Leadership in a Culture of Cowardice (part twenty one)

35 religionWhere and when did the role of Pastor become so closely associated with the characteristics of terrible leadership: anemic, people-pleasing, comfort-oriented, weakness-honoring, safety-bound, consensus-collecting, approval-seeking, distress-abating caretaking?

How did we get from the decisive, principle-inspired boldness of Jesus with the money-changers [Mt 21], Paul and the riot in Ephesus [Ac 19], and Peter on the first Pentecost [Ac 2] to this?

How did we move from the frightening judgment of Ananias and Sapphira [Ac 5], the power of God resting on Stephen at his stoning [Ac 6], and the early church leaders arrested for “turning the world upside down” [Ac 17:6] to a religious experience so predictable, routinized, and boring that men of any age, and people under the age of 40 stay away in droves?

Maybe you remember the Flo TV ad that debuted a few Super Bowls ago.

35 spinelessSports announcer Jim Nance voice-overs the sad spectacle of a young man being led around the lingerie department by his girlfriend. Nance says: “Hello, friends. We have an injury report on Jason Glasby. As you can see, his girlfriend has removed his spine, rendering him incapable of watching the game.”

I’m wondering about the injury report on the Church in North America. Who has removed our spine?

Over the last twenty installments in this Leadership Courage series, five principles have been offered for pastors who find themselves leading amidst a culture of cowardice.

One: Courageous leadership is not about skill, technique, or knowledge.  It is, most of all, about the presence of the leader as he or she moves through life.

Two: Take full responsibility for your own emotional being and destiny.

Three: Promote healthy differentiation within the church or system you lead.

Four: Stand, as an exemplar, in the sabotage and backlash that must come.

Five: Don’t “push on the rope”: the unmotivated are invulnerable to insight.

To this, we add a sixth:

Re-introduce yourself to the adventurous life.

Edwin Friedman, in A Failure of Nerve, observes: “What our civilization needs most is leaders with a bold sense of adventure… Our nation’s obsession with safety ignores the fact that every American alive today benefits from centuries of risk-taking by previous generations…every modern benefit from health to enjoyment to production has come about because Americans in previous generations put adventure before safety.”

What about you?