Top of Page ILLUMINATING AND THINKING ABOUT THE SERMON
This is a seminar on good leadership. There is often a crisis of leadership in democracies and around the world. So how does Jesus example of leadership look like when we compare it to the modern leadership which we have at present.
Jesus teaches us that good leaders do not scatter the flock so much as build and knit them into a community. In that community people are refreshed and renewed. They are fed and made to feel safe. Good shepherds make room for others in their house; they act as the cornerstone and not as the only brick in the building. Good shepherds pay attention to their flocks. Good shepherds also need rest themselves; they go to lonely places and let their hair down.
The house that God builds is human community. It is safety and justice; it is multigenerational and built over the centuries not just the years. It is also a place of rest and renewal, calm and peace. It may even be a place where we don't have to multitask! It may be a place built so well that the cornerstone needs the same attention that it gives to us. In other words, good shepherds pay good attention to their sheep _ and good sheep pay complete attention to their shepherd. In these complete attentions, the telling of the complete story, houses are built, and communities are restored.
Jesus has compassion on those of us who have lost our shepherd. He sees us as rather pathetic, as sheep without a shepherd. God's promise in Jeremiah becomes God's house in Ephesians: God enters the world to give us a shepherd. And that leader is Jesus.
We then become people capable of being alone but not lonely. A sheep that has been scattered is alone and scared. A sheep in a flock is secure. Even in the flock we need time apart and time alone. This flock-based loneliness is like having your own room in a house that loves you and responds to your love. Being in a flock is being in a community, the right kind, and the kind that gives you space and a sense of security at the same time.
Living in such a way that we rest on the cornerstone that God has provided in Jesus is easy, not hard. It is a small change, not an enormous sacrifice. It is mostly a matter of attention. Surely other shepherds and other houses will call our name, but these do not merit our attention. We do become what we pay attention to. We do become what our leaders want us to become. Here we are recommended to pay the most attention to the cornerstone of the house so that we do not collapse and do not scatter. That is a small change in focus, which yields an enormous, life-changing result.
There is a whole industry about how to be a good leader, but they often overlook that that team, the community and/or the group has a direct impact on the leader. Jesus showed us with his leadership of his disciples and the early church what that should look like to each of us. It has been shown that the team has as more impact upon each other than the leader. Learning to be part of a team, a community and a church means having a good and kind impact upon each other.
This text is about rest, renewal and nurture. It expresses Jesus' profound care for those most close to him. He looks at them with compassion, like they are sheep without a shepherd. It is a series of meditations on leadership, on the positive and negative aspects. Bad leaders scatter sheep. Good leaders take good care of the sheep and under their leadership the sheep thrive. The shepherd metaphor for Jesus weaves in and out of all three passages with the latest passage, from Ephesians, speaking about the good things that happen when a good shepherd has built a good house. We can enter these texts through many doors.
One is the kind of reporting that friends do with each other. "They told him everything they had done and taught." When we love someone, we want to show him or her all the pictures from our trip. We want to make sure they don't miss a thing — and we imagine that they want to hear every detail. We start at the beginning of our story and we don't end till we are exhausted with the telling. Clearly Jesus and the disciples had this kind of relationship. The disciples thought he wanted to know everything about them. They trusted his interest. There was excitement in the conversation because of the trust these early Christian leaders shared with the Lord. There is also a sense of completeness: we tell everything because we want to complete our story. We don't want to be interrupted. When Odysseus returns from his long journey, he tells Penelope "everything." in the same way Jesus and the disciples share a totality of experience.
Another door is slightly different. It is the fact that they are going away to rest. "To a lonely place." We go to lonely places because we are tired. We go because the very stories we love to tell have exhausted us. "Everything they had done and taught." has become too much. Life, even when it is good, requires that we rest from its very goodness. The disciples manage to become busy people — and who wouldn't when confronted with the news they were on the ground level receiving? That the Messiah had come? Of course, they were exhausted with the telling. Another door to this text is to talk about the need for rest. Rest is needed because we have too much joy to spread as well as too much work to do. Rest is something that someone who loves you offers. Jesus loves the disciples: when they are tired, they offer him rest.
Another door to the text is found in the Ephesians description of Jesus as the corner stone of a house. Here we hear that we are no longer what we were; we are no longer aliens or visitors or Gentiles. Instead we are all enjoying a citizenship in God's house. We are built upon the foundations of the apostles and the prophets. Christ Jesus is the cornerstone of this house that God is building. God builds the house through the nurture of Jesus to the disciples. God builds the house through the profound relationship that existed between Jesus and his disciples. In the same way, God built the house through the work of the prophets. We stand in the house that God built with all these great people who had first hand relationships with Christ.
The cornerstone of the house is Jesus; that is how we decide whether or not we live in the house that God builds. Without a cornerstone, buildings collapse. Without Jesus in the house, we too will collapse. There is a lively metaphor at work in the Ephesians text, which "knits every structure." together so that the house becomes a holy temple. This holy temple is more an internal structure than an outside structure. It is knit together and built up from the inside up: the perfect present tense is important. "…And you too are being built up into a dwelling-place of God in the Spirit."
We can illuminate the text by the approach of profound relationships like those Jesus shared with the disciples, the kind that includes rest and renewal as well as nurture and education for discipleship. We can use these doors to enter the house that God is actively building in us, on the cornerstone of Jesus, the prophets and the apostles. We can also enter the text through the Jeremiah pericope.
In the Jeremiah prophesy, Christ is figured as a branch for David who will be king-like and will do what is just and good in the country. Because of this kind of leadership Israel will live in safe houses. Yahweh is given an interesting name in the New Jerusalem Bible: Yahweh will be our saving justice. Both the Matthew and the Ephesians interpretation understand this saving justice as more internal and spiritual. There we have a house being built by knitting together relationships and a sense of the spirit. Here we have a house being built as well but it is a house of saving justice. It is something for Israel.
The shepherd metaphor that begins the Jeremiah pericope is quite chilling. Here we get a picture of a bad shepherd, one on whom the prophet lays disaster. This shepherd does not bring rest or renewal or nurture to his disciples. This shepherd does not build a house that is invulnerable to collapse. Instead, this bad shepherd scatters the sheep and loses the sheep. This shepherd is no good. Yahweh upbraids this kind of shepherd: "You have scattered my flock and not taken care of them right. I shall take care of you for your misdeeds." Then Yahweh does the kind of nurturing that Jesus does in Matthew. Yahweh promises to take care of the remnant and to bring them back from the countries where they have been scattered. Yahweh also promises through a prophecy that there we will be new shepherds raised up. These new shepherds will keep the people from fear, terror and more. Jesus is clearly the new shepherd, the one who cares well, who builds a house and who is the cornerstone.
Leadership is one of those ephemeral things that we often talk about but never quite understand. At one moment we see true leadership and the very next it seems to be gone. We have many ways to think of people as leaders from the Great Person view of leadership to the modern-day idea of participation leadership which is seen in the life and works of Martin Luther King. There are many forms of leadership, but to lead a Christian group, community or church we need to follow the lead of Jesus, we need to become shepherds not dictators or mere role models. Leadership is more than Great Men, Modern Techniques and even the latest book on leadership. Leadership is simply learning to follow the example of Jesus.
Top of Page ILLUSTRATING THE SERMON
When sheep find their shepherd they are tamed, like the little prince tamed the fox. The Little Prince meets a fox. The fox asks the little prince to tame him. What does that mean tame? asks the little prince. The fox responds, It means to establish ties . . . . To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred other little foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in the entire world. To you, I shall be unique in the entire world . . .. If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. . . and then look: you see the grain fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the color of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat.
So, the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of the little prince’s departure drew near— Ah, said the fox, I shall cry. It is your own fault, said the little prince. I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . . Yes, that is so, said the fox. But now you are going to cry! Said the little prince. Yes, that is so, said the fox. Then it has done you no good at all! It has done me good, said the fox, because of the color of the wheat fields. (Antoine de Exupery, The Little Princes)
When sheep find their shepherd, they are often torn between the desire to save the world and the inclination to savor it, as E.B. White said.
When sheep find their shepherd and human beings find their home in good community, they enjoy a profound sense of stillness. They sleep well at night. Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness, said Meister Eckert, medieval Christian mystic.
Be Still and Know that God is God is a prayer that many use before sleeping. When we drop the last word off the line, we end up with the words, "Be Still." and then we end of with just being. Surely sheep in a secure flock have a profound sense of quietness to them. They don't even move much. Such a contrast they are to our own hectic, "I'm just so fond about Hurry." lives.
A good companion to the service when these texts are preached is the poem, the Second Coming, by William Butler Yeats:
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of spiritus mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,....
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?
We use this whole poem by William Butler Yeats as a responsive reading. There are many reminders of the desert experience of sheep in the poem.
A person lost the way in a great forest. After a while another lost the way and chanced upon the first, and, without knowing what happened, asked the way out of the woods. I don't know, said the first. But I can point out the ways that lead further into the thicket, and after that let us try to find the way together. Rabbi Hayyim of Zanz
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty." Ben Franklin
An elderly Italian man lay dying in his bed. While suffering the agonies of impending death, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite Italian anisette sprinkle cookies wafting up the stairs. The aged and withered hand trembled on its way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when it was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife.
"Put it back!" she said, "They're for the funeral."
I had dinner with a blind man and his partner who had only one hand. They were the happiest couple on the train. As we passed through gorgeous glades into higher mountains, the blind man, from memory, told me just how beautiful things would be around the next corner. This dinner said all I have learned about cancer, so far. You can live when some of your parts are
Employee Handbook Revisions: SICK DAYS We will no longer accept a doctor's statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work. We are here to provide you with a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplation, consternation, or input should be directed elsewhere.
We should be happy that God doesn't answer all our prayers.
When the synagogue next door to Father Fletcher James' St. Louis Catholic Church was vandalized, and their menorah destroyed, Father Fletcher put up a menorah in the front yard of his church.
A similar witness occurred in Bismarck, South Dakota when the newspaper printed a menorah that many citizens, Jews and Non-Jews alike, pasted in their windows. They did so after a menorah was destroyed at a local temple.
The Ephesians passage speaks of God's desire to bring about a reconciliation that will unite all believers into one body. The current state of the church, however, is quite distant from that goal. According to the Encyclopedia of American Religion, despite how huge the Roman Catholic Church is, there are 116 different Catholic denominations spread throughout the United States and Canada. In all, there are about 2,630 different religious groups scattered throughout North America. Not only is there an Episcopal Church, but there is also a Metaphysical Episcopal Church, a Free Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Mission in America. In addition to the Unitarian Universalists, there is also are also the Unitarian Universalist Pagans. Among the more creatively named denominations are the Church of God Anonymous and the Nudist Christian Church of the Blessed Virgin Jesus. Of the religious groups catalogued in the Encyclopedia are eight that include drug use in their practices, 22 that believe in UFOs, and 12 that will immediately send you credentials to be an officially authorized minister in their denomination, if you write to them and ask. The number of different religious groups has been rising in recent years. The most recent edition of the Encyclopedia lists 250 more groups than the 1999 edition did.
Not only is there is a lack of oneness between the different Christian denominations, but a recent study finds there to be a considerable gap between clergy and parishioners. Ellison Research, based in Phoenix, earlier this year issued findings that indicate that most ministers in the traditional mainline Protestant churches are more liberal on matters of doctrine and morality than their congregations. At the same time, most evangelical and fundamentalist pastors are more conservative than their church members. The same study also found there to be a gap between local pastors and their church hierarchies. About 40% of clergy say their beliefs differ from at least some of the official denominational positions. When it comes to theological matters, 19% say their positions are more liberal while 23% say they are more conservative. On subjects of political concern, 16% of pastors indicate they are more liberal and 27% say they are more conservative. United Methodist pastors were the most likely to disagree with their denomination's positions on various matters, with only 33% saying that their theological positions matched the church hierarchy.
Sometimes we might wonder what it takes these days to get people to want to spend some time inside God's house. Michigan State University is undertaking some major renovations to some of its dorm facilities in order to make that housing more enticing to students. The school is spending millions of dollars to spruce up one of its older dorms by installing new wiring, furniture, TV sets in the bathrooms, and hot tubs. The remodeling efforts paid off. All 840 rooms in the building were filled to capacity for the past school year, and there was a waiting list of nearly 200.
The superabundance of different Christian denominations in the United States indicates that we have not yet attained the complete and total unity that God desires for the church. Robert Capon comments, "The church in the United States has always been `the churches.' For all practical purposes, from the Constitution to the present day, it has been little more than a clowder of sectarian cats competing over religion." (Robert Farrar Capon, The Astonished Heart (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996) p. 75)
Ever since ancient times, there has been a recognition that the family unit presents a major obstacle to unity in the church or in any assembly of people. From the time of Plato, it has been acknowledged that people tend to love their families and relatives out of proportion to their objective worth. Thus, when there is a conflict between fulfilling an obligation to a family member and fulfilling an obligation to another group, the family almost always comes first. Socrates suggested that in order to create a perfectly just city, children should not be identified as belonging to a specific set of parents. In that way, Socrates thought, adults would not tend to favor particular children, but all of the society would work together as one.
Benjamin Franklin spent a great deal of energy encouraging the colonies to stand together as one body against the British if they wanted to succeed in a move toward independence. To emphasize his point, he used a drawing, which is sometimes considered to be the first American political cartoon. The drawing depicted a snake cut into segments, with each segment bearing the name of a colony. Underneath a motto read: "Join or Die."
Although we know that we should live together as one reconciled humanity, the vestiges of division still persist. A study by professors at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed that resumes with white-sounding names received 50% more responses than ones bearing black-sounding names. The professors sent around 5,000 resumes in response to want ads in The Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune. The white-sounding resumes received a response for every 10 that were sent. In contrast, only about one out of every 15 black-sounding resumes received a response. The "white." names that were used included Neil, Brett, Greg, Emily, Anne, and Jill. Some of the "black." names were Tamika, Ebony, Aisha, Rasheed, Kareem, and Tyrone. Even companies that claimed to be equal opportunity employers were no more likely to respond to black resumes than other employers.
Although the writer of Ephesians looks forward to the day when we will no longer live as strangers to one another, strangers definitely are not welcome in a coastal area of western Ireland. Local authorities in that region have proposed to put a ban on home building by people who do not speak Irish. The proposed regulation would affect a sixty mile strip from Barna to Carna. The ban apparently derives from a centuries-old effort by Irish speakers to preserve their native language, which the English severely discouraged during their colonial rule of the land.
When it comes to the households that people live in, a lot has changed in the past century. In 1900, 40% of all households lived in cities, while 80% live in urban areas in 2000. A hundred years ago, only 1% of all households consisted of one person living alone, whereas today the number is 10%. In contrast, in 1900, 50% of households had six or more people in them, and today that percentage is only 10%. A century ago a mere 2% of households had electricity, but today 99% do. Back then just 10% of all households had flush toilets, while today 98% are equipped with indoor plumbing.
While God invites us to live in a spirit of goodwill toward others, many people hesitate to be so closely associated with those who seem to be different from themselves. Some people might be guided by H. L. Mencken's comment, "Believing the worst about another person may be a sin, but it is seldom a mistake."
By being built into the household of God, we experience the unity we share despite our apparent diversity. Research into the human genome has found that people can be easily sorted into five basic groups based on ancestry. Mary-Claire King, an expert in the field of human genetics at the University of Washington in Seattle claims, "Everybody is the same; everybody is different. That is the paradox." With the use of a sophisticated computer program, the researchers could accurately identify the ancestral continent of origin of almost every individual they studied, based solely on the person's DNA. Their theory suggests that all human life originated in Africa, with a portion of humanity remaining there, while others migrated to Eurasia, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.
Race certainly continues to be a distinction that tends to cause us to live as strangers to one another. A recent study, though, conducted at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the distinction between the races may not be as clear cut as many people might think. As the agency examined the birth and death certificates for 120,000 babies who died in the early 1980s, they found that many had been identified as being of one race at birth and another race at death. While we assume that we are able to clearly distinguish what separates us, perhaps there is an even greater
commonality that we share.
Our faith teaches us that our true identity is that we are members of the household of God. Often, however, we live as though we are confused about that identity. When the United States government instituted the Social Security system back in the 1930s, one major issue was creating a method of correctly identifying each participant in the program. Realizing that many people in the country share the same name, the government created the Social Security number system. But even that did not manage to be foolproof. In 1938, the Woolworth department stores and some other retailers sold a certain brand of wallets that had a sample Social Security card inserted in it. The number on the card, however, 078-05-1120, was not a sample number. It was the actual Social Security number of a fellow who worked in the factory where the wallets were made. Over the years, more than 40,000 people have looked in their wallets and used that number to identify themselves. Even as late as 1977, there were still twelve people who were using that number.
In a sense, the Ephesians passage is encouraging Christians to look upon the church as a huge melting pot as we are formed together into a community of faith. One of the challenges to accomplishing that unity is the way that we find it difficult at times to communicate and relate to one another. You might say that at times it is as though we spoke different languages. Within the United States, the speaking of different languages is an increasing reality. There are now more than 47 million people in the United States who speak a language other than English at home, up from 32 million ten years ago.
"Houses are built to live in and not to look on; therefore let use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had." (Francis Bacon)
"Home is where the heart is." (Proverb)
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." (Robert Frost)
Alan Paton's great novel, as well as its two film versions, set in apartheid South Africa, shows "the dividing wall of hostility." coming down between two grieving fathers, one black and the other white. The son of Pastor Stephen Kumalo has accidentally killed the son of landowner Arthur Jarvis during a burglary in far off Johannesburg. Although the son's colleagues lie their way out of any charges, the son amidst his guilt and receives the verdict of death by hanging. The pastor had gone to the city in search of his son, visited him in his cell, and returned heartbroken to the village with the boy's common-law wife and son. He also encounters Arthur Jarvis, who unlike his liberal son, had believed in the separation of the races. However, when he reads what his son had written, and then his own wife argues that they help the impoverished church and its people, the man begins to examine his beliefs. Mrs. Jarvis succumbs to her weak heart, and Mr. Jarvis is touched by the flowers and the sympathy card that Kumalo and his people send for her funeral. A good many thinks happen upon Kumalo's return to his village, all of which change the mind of Kumalo's bishop, who had intended to transfer him because of his fear that neighboring Arthur Jarvis would hold a grudge against the old man. The night before the execution the black father climbs a hill outside the village for a night long vigil. On his way he sees a figure on a horse. It is Arthur Jarvis, who tells him that he is going to Johannesburg to live with his daughter-in-law and grandson. He assures the old man that the promised innovations that will ease the burden of the people will be carried forward. Kumalo thanks him, and Jarvis declares that he was "in darkness." until Kumalo found him. They part friends, and the old man continues up the hill to confess his own sins and pray for the soul of his son who will die at sunrise.
In the film Final Solution Alan Paton's novel plays a significant role, along with the Bible and a black pastor and a female student committed to racial reconciliation in South Africa. Law student Gerrit Wolfaardt is descended from a Boer who was executed by the British for his guerilla warfare against their rule. As a boy Gerrit not only cherished the stories of that execution, but he also adopted Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf as his bible. He even organized his own version of the Hitler Youth, which sought out solitary black and beat them up. While still a law student he is drawn to the attractive Celeste and accompanies her to her literature class. The professor is lecturing on Cry, the Beloved Country, and Gerrit dismisses it as "Communist rubbish." Celeste challenges him to read it, but Gerrit asserts that he doesn't have to in order to know what its like. Not to be shaken off, Celeste holds out her copy of the book and practically orders him to read it before rejecting it. She then takes him along to a visit to a black church whose pastor, the Rev. Peter Lekota, is working to build bridges between blacks and whites. Gerrit discourteously refuses to shake the black man's hand, but the pastor refuses to be put off by this and other ill-mannered remarks. When the pastor quotes from Acts that "God has made of one blood all nations, "the student spouts some racist remarks about the Bible teaching that blacks have no souls, and thus cannot go to heaven. The pastor holds up his Bible and challenges Gerrit to find that passage. The boy cannot, of course, neither then, nor in the university library when he learns how to use a concordance. He begins to read the novel, and slowly is drawn into it by the utter beauty of its language. He also comes across Bible passages that directly counter the racist doctrines he has learned in his Afrikaner church. Further association with the minister and Celeste draws him back at the very last minute from going down a road of no return. Gerrit had been recruited by a rogue S. A. security officer and a politician to assassinate an anti-apartheidactivist. Even when he learns that his target is the Rev. Peter Lekota, he accepts the mission. Only when he has the pastor sighted in the scope of his rifle does his conscience finally win the struggle raging within him, and he relaxes his tense trigger finger and puts aside the rifle. All this we see in flashbacks, Garrit and his wife telling their story to a group of angry blacks bent on lynching a white member of a death squad whom they have chased into Peter Lekota's church. The pastor and the two whites hope to convince the vengeance-bent listeners that if Gerrit should change, then so might the fugitive, if given the opportunity.
Fred Kaan's hymn "Help Us Accept Each Other, "written in 1975, would be a good hymn to sing or for the preacher to quote on this Sunday. The hymn is a prayer asking that worshippers accept each other "as Christ has accepted us." Then Christ is evoked as teacher so that we can learn in our daily lives lessons of hope, faith, and caring. The third verse is a prayer that we will be changed inwardly so that in each situation we will "know by heart." what we should do. In the last stanza we pray for "new eyes for seeing." those in need, and for renewal by Christ's Spirit that will bring freedom and unity.
When people immigrate to this country intending to stay, they receive a card that is commonly called a "green card." which allows them to work, get a social security card, etc. The actual name of this card that appears on the front is the "Alien Registration Card." The use of "alien." here clearly does not refer to extraterrestrials, and yet the common usage of the term defines an alien as a potentially threatening, unwelcome presence. Paul notes that in Christ we are not to be to one another as aliens or strangers, and his attitude is much more in line with Emma Goldman's poem on the Statue of Liberty where those who come to our country are celebrated as those "yearning to breathe free."
As we try to learn to balance between letting those in need into our country with protecting our own vulnerable citizens what is the final answer. We need good leadership and great insight into how we come to a good conclusion. Less name calling and more understanding might be the way.
What makes a great leader seems to have changed again and again over the last few years. The Great Man theory evolved around the mid-19th century. Even though no one was able to identify with any scientific certainty, which human characteristic or combination of, were responsible for identifying great leaders. Everyone recognized that just as the name suggests; only a man could have the characteristic (s) of a great leader.
The Great Man theory assumes that the traits of leadership are intrinsic. That simply means that great leaders are born...they are not made. This theory sees great leaders as those who are destined by birth to become a leader. Furthermore, the belief was that great leaders will rise when confronted with the appropriate situation. The theory was popularized by Thomas Carlyle, a writer and teacher. Just like him, the Great Man theory was inspired by the study of influential heroes. In his book "On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History", he compared a wide array of heroes.
In 1860, Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher disputed the great man theory by affirming that these heroes are simply the product of their times and their actions the results of social conditions.
After the Great Man theory came the Trait Theory (1930's - 1940's). The trait leadership theory believes that people are either born or are made with certain qualities that will make them excel in leadership roles. That is, certain qualities such as intelligence, sense of responsibility, creativity and other values puts anyone in the shoes of a good leader. In fact, Gordon Allport, an American psychologist,"...identified almost 18,000 English personality-relevant terms" (Matthews, Deary & Whiteman, 2003, p. 3).
The trait theory of leadership focused on analyzing mental, physical and social characteristic in order to gain more understanding of what is the characteristic or the combination of characteristics that are common among leaders.
There were many shortfalls with the trait leadership theory. However, from a psychology of personalities approach, Gordon Allport's studies are among the first ones and have brought, for the study of leadership, the behavioral approach. In the 1930s the field of Psychometrics was in its early years. Personality traits measurement weren't reliable across studies. Study samples were of low level managers Explanations weren't offered as to the relation between each characteristic and its impact on leadership. The context of the leader wasn't considered.
Many studies have analyzed the traits among existing leaders in the hope of uncovering those responsible for one’s leadership abilities! In vain, the only characteristics that were identified among these individuals were those that were slightly taller and slightly more intelligent!
Then came the whole Behavioral Theories (1940's - 1950's) movement. In reaction to the trait leadership theory, the behavioral theories are offering a new perspective, one that focuses on the behaviors of the leaders as opposed to their mental, physical or social characteristics. Thus, with the evolutions in psychometrics, notably the factor analysis, researchers were able to measure the cause an effects relationship of specific human behaviors from leaders. From this point forward, anyone with the right conditioning could have access to the once before elite club of naturally gifted leaders. In other words, leaders are made not born.
The behavioral theories first divided leaders in two categories. Those that were concerned with the tasks and those concerned with the people. Throughout the literature these are referred to as different names, but the essence are identical.
Then came The Managerial Grid Model / Leadership Grid not to mention the whole concept of the Role Theory and the Contingency Theories (1960's)
The Contingency Leadership theory argues that there is no single way of leading and that every leadership style should be based on certain situations, which signifies that there are certain people who perform at the maximum level in certain places; but at minimal performance when taken out of their element.
To a certain extent contingency leadership theory are an extension of the trait theory, in the sense that human traits are related to the situation in which the leaders exercise their leadership. It is generally accepted within the contingency theories that leader are more likely to express their leadership when they feel that their followers will be responsive.
Then in the 1970’s we find Transactional theories coming on the scene. Transactional theories, also known as exchange theories of leadership, are characterized by a transaction made between the leader and the followers. In fact, the theory values a positive and mutually beneficial relationship. For the transactional theories to be effective and as a result have motivational value, the leader must find a means to align to adequately reward (or punish) his follower, for performing leader-assigned task. In other words, transactional leaders are most efficient when they develop a mutual reinforcing environment, for which the individual and the organizational goals are in sync. The transactional theorists state that humans in general are seeking to maximize pleasurable experiences and to diminish un-pleasurable experiences. Thus, we are more likely to associate ourselves with individuals that add to our strengths.
Finally, there is Transformational Leadership Theories. The Transformational Leadership theory states that this process is by which a person interacts with others and is able to create a solid relationship that results in a high percentage of trust, that will later result in an increase of motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, in both leaders and followers.
The essence of transformational theories is that leaders transform their followers through their inspirational nature and charismatic personalities. Rules and regulations are flexible, guided by group norms. These attributes provide a sense of belonging for the followers as they can easily identify with the leader and its purpose. (http://www.leadership-central.com/leadership-theories.html#axzz5KnWIpwNT)
Leadership theories relating to participative theories are based on the notion a great leader, is an individual who takes the input of others into consideration. This type of leadership encourages participation and contribution of its followers which in turn engages and commits. A good example of this is Martin Luther King Jr, who encouraged and lead his fellow African Americans in a time of great sorrow, through protest, and non-violence. (https://psych2go.net/modern-theories-on-leadership-just-what-makes-a-leader/)
Top of Page prayers (WorshipAid)
Leader: The Lord is my Shepherd
People: I shall not want.
Leader: God makes me lie down in green pastures;
People: God leads me in right paths for the sake of God's name.
Leader: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
People: And I shall dwell in God's house forever.
O God, we confess a restless nature, in which we have enshrined work and achievement in your place. Forgive us when we focus our efforts on everything but loving you. Grant us mercy when we are blind to our neighbor's need, because we are so frenetic and busy. Grant us restful rhythms in our lives, and the wisdom to glorify you through renewal and nurture of our faith, in Christ's name, Amen.
O God, you have given us everything we need. In gratitude we return these gifts to your use, so that others, too, may know and glorify You. Help us to so value your blessings to us that we prize each day as a gift and savor each moment in your presence. Amen
Loving and nurturing God, thanks to you we have a Shepherd who cares for us, who knows and understands our needs, who has invited us into your household. As we face the challenges of the week ahead, may we rest in the knowledge of your constant care. As we plan each day, may we include time for rest and reflection, for prayer and time with You. Help us in our efforts toward reconciliation, so that we may contribute to a world that is more just, and more reflective of your caring.
Remind us of our need for solitude as well as action. Give our lives a balance, so that we may have the reserve of strength to respond in time of need. May we pattern our lives after Christ, who was at home both in crowds and alone. Nurture in us a depth of peace, and renew our souls, that we may joyfully serve you and love one another, in Christ, Amen.