Leadership and managing

I was recently speaking to a good friend of mine regarding what is needed to make change. She is a young leader of a fairly typical health institution. Health institutions, like corporations, and churches develop their own character, flavor, and culture. These cultures are often helpful initially, but unless they change with the culture and needs around them, they often become their own enemy.

The church is no different. The culture that led our parent's to successfully establish a church will not engage today's highly changing culture. In 1950, the average community was fairly homogeneous and had been that way for over 35 years. That means that culturally, ethinically, religiously, and socioeconomically, communities were the same for generations with change being slow and predictable. Today's culture is completely different with major changes in the average community coming about every 7 years. This means that a church that wants to effectively engage its community must be ready for nearly constant change. The message is constant, but the medium and its message must change according to the culture it seeks to penetrate.

This gets me back to my friend's question. Leadership is about effecting change. Leadership is leading people to where they need to be. Leadership is about motivating people to join something that is greater than themselves. Leadership is unfortunately, rare today. We see plenty of managing instead. Managing is taking available resources and doing what is asked. It is not visionary, but often it is tasks controlled by a budgetary vision. Management is trained to keep the status quo, while leadership is always about change. The greater the degree of change, the greater the need for leadership.

Seth Godin in his book "Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us" states that "Leadership isn't difficult, but you have been trained for years to avoid it". We avoid leadership because managing seems safer and more secure. The reality is that slow death follows management, while leadership and growth work hand and hand. Tradition is wonderful. It allows us a window into the stories of those who came before us. However, if our entire goal is upholding traditions, instead of writing new narratives, stories, and traditions to shape and engage in our current world, then we have become historians without a language inwhich to speak to the current and upcoming generations.

The answer to the question at the health center, at the steel mill, at the neighborhood, and particularly in my favorite place, the church, is leadership is required to make an impact. People who are willing to motivate others to realize the passions that are already being stirred by God almighty.

God is looking for leaders today. People in all walks of life who understand that things are "not the way they are supposed to be", and are willing to take a stand to motivate and unite others to join them in making things right.

May God bless you as you contemplate your leadership.

Pastor M Traylor