Revolutionary Leadership

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Revolutionary Leadership

Friends,

On one day a year millions around the world exalt a tale of Insanely Revolutionary Leadership.  Every three or four years, I reprise it in RFL.  And if we tell and hear the story right, everyone is invited to practice revolutionary everyday leadership.

Imagine the greatest leaders of our time: Obama, Putin, Gorbachev, Mandela, Reagan, Hilary and Bill Clinton.  Throw in prophets. As with Michigan strawberries, you pick ‘em:  Dennis Kucinich? Ralph Nader? Sean Hannity? The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., Thomas Friedman? (A list inclusive of at least one person sure to drive nearly everyone nuts :-)).  Toss in business leaders: Sergei and Larry and Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.  Pick your fave.

Now imagine the one you consider most powerful – in a meeting with their team, their closest advisors, their board or inner circle of friends.  Things are good.  Spirits are high.  There’s momentum and huge possibilities in the air. And imagine after dinner, the most powerful leader grabbing a towel and . . . . washing the feet of his or her friends. Later the same night, imagine they’re still together when someone with a gun comes up to kidnap the leader, and when one of his friends intervenes (with a gun, or threats of a lawsuit), the leader says, “Stop. Put away the guns.”  Remotely plausible?  Straining the imagination?

Finally imagine that person is then tried quickly and put to a painful death, all the while choosing not to marshal resources for a counter offensive.  Christians recognize in this the last three days of Jesus’ life and the spirit of his entire time of leadership.  The man or Man totally chose love over fear, and service over self.

What would it be like to have that kind of boss? What would it be like for children to have that kind of mom and dad, or that kind of teacher?  Before you get to the impossibility and impracticality of it all, imagine just for a second the kind of trust you would feel if you were served in that way by your leaders. What if they had no fear – or put it aside completely for love? What if they saw goodness in you beyond what you could possibly see in yourself?

One day a year we ought to fully embrace love and service in our leadership journey. We ought to risk the insane and believe that love will win, no matter the appearances of loss or setback, no matter the monstrous lump of fear in our throats. One day believe and invoke forces of love and service, in magnificent moments to

Lead with our best Self

21 responses to “Revolutionary Leadership

    1. I always respect other’s opinions, and here is mine, have you ever went to church with President Obama? or met him, sat and had dinner with him? I think with all of the intolerance and hate that is obvious, one should clearly see who the anti-christ are.I do not think Christains blasphemy others.

    2. Mark: If you’re trying to influence people, I don’t believe that calling anyone the anti-Christ is the best way to do that. In addition to being mean-spirited (yes, calling Bush the anti-Christ would have been wrong, too), it’s really contrary to what Jesus was trying to say, including the commandment about bearing false witness.

      1. Nope, not trying to influence others, only speaking my peace. However, I have invoked some thought induced commentary with regard to my perception. That is good. We can agree to disagree. I practice love, unconditionally, and without judgment, 365 days a year. I also walk, and speak, my truth. I see through the eyes of Christ. If I recall correctly (I do), He overturned the tables in the temple where individuals had set up business, evoking anger in a peacable (God)man. Greed and collusion still remain to be the foundation of “business as usual”. The buck stops at the top. Don’t disillusion yourself, instead, look closely at Revelation.

        1. Mark,

          An opinion is a subjective statement or thought about an issue or topic, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. You do not have anything to prove when you state your opinion, therefore your last comment looks like a statement of guilt, this is my opinion.

          Thomas K. Burke – Mentor

        2. Statement of guilt. That evoked a good chuckle. I remain objective, even to your subjective insults. I need not prove anything, the proof is in the truth….of which I speak.

  1. Good morning Dan,

    There was a comment I remember reading made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and it goes something like this, “You cannot defeat hate with hate, but you can defeat hate with love”. I am astonished to see this peice on love. We are so consumed with always hearing about the jobless rate, the homeless rate, the war with Iraq, Tiger Woods, and the 100’s of other daily repeated news headline disasters, that we have become complacent with focusing on our norms and values. I was raised being taught that Jesus loves us all. I will honored to be a part of a day to observe love.

    Thomas K. Burke – Mentor

  2. Dan –

    Thanks for another inspiring note with which to start my week. As a leader of my team and a community member who hopes to inspire others, I would hope to achieve a small amount of the inspirational leadership you describe. Thanks for reminding me of the possibilities we all possess.

    Rich

  3. For those who liked this snippet, and I did, I would suggest the book “Jesus CEO – Using Ancient Wisdow for Visionary Leadership”. I read it first about 15 years ago and have since used it again.

    Dan – thanks for reminding us the greatest leader knows first how to serve, and then how to lead.

    1. Thanks for the reference Dave. THE MAXWELL LEADERSHIP BIBLE is another source. Just think what our country would be like if our leaders decided to use the leadership style of Jesus.

  4. Yes, Dan, we need to recognize that “servant leadership” is mastery performance.

    “The three greatest leaders of the 20th Century were Hitler, Stalin, and Mao. If that’s leadership, I want no part of it,” said Peter Drucker, who died on November 11, 2005 at the age of 95.

  5. Great thoughts! Hard to understand sometimes how great His effect. Hard to understand sometimes how little we let Him effect us. What a blessing, to be able to have the love of God and share it.

  6. Dan, you’ve shown us the essential synergy between spirituality, religious imagery, and leadership. How good that you that this spring time to repeat this fundamental message of hope.

  7. I was in Boston last week with a group of high school-age kids from our church, doing a religious “pilgrimage” of sorts. While we were there (and dodging millions of raindrops) we visited Walden Pond, from where Henry David Thoreau wrote about living a simpler life, and about civil disobedience. Thoreau’s works about such civil disobedience captured much that was taught by Jesus, and Thoreau in turn became another spiritual example for Rev. King, Mohandas Gandhi and others.

    While at a bookstore in Boston, I bought an annotated version of Thoreau’s book “Walden.” One expert says that while our population in general has become more interested in Thoreau’s works over the years, we actually follow his principles of simplicity and peaceful existence less today than ever. I believe that overall, the same can be said for following the words of Jesus. While he’s perhaps quoted more than ever, many people use Jesus as an excuse for setting one group against another … us against them.

  8. Dan,
    Bravo for providing us with your thougths about the greatest leader. The questions you pose are something we all need to pay attention to. I know I will. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    Dave Q – appreciate the suggested reading, “Jesus CEO. . .”

  9. Great thoughts! Great analogy!

    …and yet my critical thinking mind thinks that it’s sometimes a burden for others when we see some good in them that no one else sees, that maybe they themselves are not prepared to see. The pressure! The tension! How to please the teacher / leader? Sometimes, it’s easier to give up than try to live up to such a high standard… Think of Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus certainly must have seen good in, as Jesus sees the good in all of us. Was Jesus’ belief in him too much for him to bear? He must have known his own limitations, right?

    How do we find the balance between believing in others but not overburdening them, not pressuring them overmuch? I suppose it’s different in every case…

    Thanks for another thought-provoking topic, Dan!

    1. Activeadvocate,
      I wonder how often we “overbelieve” in people. I suspect it’s not often at all. Sometimes people (especially parents, or other “fans”) don’t so much overbelieve, as ask they want to be what they are not. When, for example, as a parent I need my kids to succeed, because I have not come to terms with my own apparent lack of success, that’s really not belief in them. Instead it’s a reflection of my lack of faith and acceptance in myself. I suspect my dad felt this way towards me, and I sometimes notice the same instinct in the way I look to my children. That’s different than the unconditional love which Jesus brought.

      Was it too much for Judas? That’s a wonderful question. It’s not hard to imagine that Judas despaired – of himself, of Jesus’ movement and teachings. I suppose the worst thing is that Judas sold out on his “best self.”

      In the end, I think the Christian story is an invitation to NOT rely on (or despair of) ourselves, but to rely instead on faith and love. Then the victory may not come. It may not come in the terms we seek. It may – in Judas’ self-fulfilling actions – end in disappointment and defeat. And yet the invitation is to act in faith and service, and trust that this is enough. I suppose the saddest thing in all is when we people give up on themselves and in their best self. Judas is surely the best image of that.

      Hope this makes sense. Your comments are, as always, provocative.

      Dan

    2. Activeadvocate,
      I wonder how often we “overbelieve” in people. I suspect it’s not often at all. Sometimes people (especially parents, or other “fans”) don’t so much overbelieve, as ask us to be what they want to be yet are not. When, for example, as a parent I NEED my kids to succeed, because I have not come to terms with my own apparent lack of success, that’s really not belief in them. Instead it’s a reflection of my lack of faith and acceptance in myself. I suspect my dad felt this way towards me at times, and I sometimes notice the same instinct in the way I look to my children. That’s different than the unconditional love which Jesus brought. So, I think this is our challenge to come close to “overbelieving” in our staffs, children, co-workers.

      Was it too much for Judas? That’s a wonderful question. It’s not hard to imagine that Judas despaired – of himself, of Jesus’ movement and teachings. I suppose the worst thing is that Judas sold out on his “best self.”

      In the end, I think the Christian story is an invitation to NOT rely on (or despair of) ourselves, but to rely instead on faith and love. Then the victory may not come. Or, it may not come in the terms we seek. It may – in Judas’ self-fulfilling actions – end in disappointment and defeat. And yet the invitation is to act in faith and service, and trust that this is enough. I suppose the saddest thing in all is when people give up on themselves and in their best self. Judas is surely the best image of that.

      Hope this makes sense. Your comments are, as always, provocative.

      Dan

  10. I can image Romans soldiers thinking Jesus was a failure, a loser. The Romans must of thought Jesus was of no importance other than an minor irritant to be relieved of, since the Romans did not immediately go after Jesus’ followers. Some thought Jesus was insane. If these observations were true, His followers would have disbanded. The substance of what held them together and made them pursue a common goal is what Jesus left to them. If you try to lead like Jesus be prepared for all of the above.

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