Monday, April 11, 2011

Hitler Vs. Jesus.....What Makes a Good Leader?


What makes a good leader? Is it the choices they make? Their vision? Charisma? The loyalty of their followers? The success of whatever they are leading? Last night at bible study the lesson was on the story of the Good Shepard and the first topic we discussed was leadership.

The guy leading the lesson asked us if we had ever lead and how we felt about it. I answered first (What can I say? I hate awkward silences when I'm leading, so if no one else pipes up, I open my big mouth and speak like I always want someone to do when I've just asked a question!) And said that while I didn't feel like a good leader I was always being put in the roll of a leader because I could get things done, but unfortunately, I get them done all by myself because I am sorely lacking in the ability to get others to listen to/follow me no matter how awesome my vision is!

I don't ask for leadership, but it is a position I am getting more comfortable with, just because I have had to do it more and more. So, while I do get the task done, I don't feel I'm  good leader because the term leader implies followers, not a one man show!

We talked around the subject for awhile and the question of what makes a good leader was brought up. Jesus was of course a good leader, but then again, so was Hitler. What made them good leaders? Can you even compare the two? I say yes, they both had visions of new kingdoms and inspired many, many followers with their visions. So, is Hitler a good leader? I thought of course, he was an excellent leader! There seemed to be some disagreement about this. As the conversation continued to flow, I was left feeling confused!(shocker, right?) What kind of good were we talking about here?

We went around the room all taking turns telling what we thought made a good leader and I saw the disconnect that had been confusing me. Most were defining a good leader as a good person, with biblical goals. Jesus was the example. So the definitions were of humility, a servants heart and compassionate, not things that could be said about Hitler!

In thinking about it, I'm pretty sure that by this point was I was the only person seeing things the other way still (meaning good as in successful and not necessarily having good goals or being a good person!). Maybe rather then calling Hitler a good leader, I should call him a successful one?

My definition of a good leader was the ability to inspire followers to see and believe in your vision. Then identity their talents and use them to further said vision. The use of the word use in light of what most of others were saying might not have been the best choice of word, (it caused a request of clarification) but I would say that Jesus used his followers, especially the disciples! Maybe I should have said put to work, instead of using use, which can leave a bad taste in your mouth! 

In my mind Hitler was a good (aka successful) leader! But, that doesn't mean a Godly leader. Jesus inspired followers and was also humble, loving, compassionate and had a servants heart. While Hitlers regime ended with his death, Jesus is still inspiring and gathering followers today! While Hitler may have been a successful leader, he was lacking the the qualities that made Jesus the leader he was and still is today! So, maybe the real question was not what makes a good leader, but what makes a leader good!

The rest of the chapter was very good as well. Lilias Trotter explained the four dangers we face as Sheeple (Sheep+people=Sheeple.....yes, I was a taker, unfortunately the only's just so funny!) The stranger, the thief, the hireling and the wolf. We read those things and don't really try to apply what those people might look like in our lives.

The stranger can be someone close to you or a new person who introduces you to new ideas that draw you away from The Good Shepard. 

The thief is something, like job loss or sickness that steals away your joy and strength in Jesus. It slowly creeps up on you, you just don't decide one day to be depressed, it sneaks up and slowly chips away at your strength and joy.

The hireling can be the joy and peace found in world or a fair weather friend, they stick around as long as times are good but as soon as things get a little challenging they check out and dessert you!

The wolf can be one dressed as a sheep but then he/she does something that reveals their true nature and the sheep scatter. Like when a well respected Pastor or other leader is revealed to be adulterous or false in some other way and those who have put the up on a pedestal lose heart and leave the church.

I really liked the illustrations, I don't always connect the parables with my life and what I'm going though. Bad I know, but if I was perfect I would be dead and already with Jesus! =)

What kind of leader are you? Do you like to lead? Or are you more like me and put in leadership positions unwillingly?