Monday, September 20, 2010

How Is Leadership Different From Manipulation?

In class today, we listed qualities a leader should have. After the list was compiled, I asked, "How is this list different from qualities we want in a good person?" I was told the list looks similar because we want a good leader to be a good person.

The answer is novel, but not sufficient.

Thinking of our list, I can only roll my eyes. Of course a group of self-proclaimed church leaders will create a list of the loftiest requirements for a leader. I scoffed a little when I learned Cicero did the same thing as he delineated what a good orator must be. Removed from Cicero in time and space, it was easy for me to scoff at his list, especially since he completely disregarded a woman's ability to be an orator.

Scoffing turned to disgust when I read Samuel Johnson's prose about what separates a poet from the rest of the human world. Like Cicero before him and my class of church leaders today, Johnson compiled a list of qualities making poets seem like the most special people in the world.

I want to know what really makes a person a leader and not an ordained manipulator. Isn't a leader someone by whom a group of people want to be manipulated, told what to do, where to go, how to think, etc? How are church leaders more than people congregations assume are sent by God to manipulate?

I am not trying to be cynical. I really don't know the answer. What do you think? What separates a leader from other person? What separates a good leader from a good person?


  1. I think a very thin line separates good leaders from manipulators. It depends on how the person uses their gifts of leadership. Are they leading in a way to satisfy themselves or to further their own agenda (as "right" or "good" as it may be), or are they committed to equipping and serving the congregation so that it can become its best self.

    For example, a person who is able to influence people can use that gift to influence them to his/her own point of view, or can influence them to do the hard work of honestly weighing the alternatives and selecting the best one.

    Good thoughts, Trevar.

  2. I'm chewing on this stuff, Randall. Thanks for the comment.