In last week's blog post, I began to examine my motivations for being a leader. Three motivations stood out to me, obligation, pride, and calling. This week, I'm going to take a step back, and find out what other leaders in the past and present have said should be a leader's motivation. Jesus, in the book of Matthew, warned his disciples against what he called "false prophets". He warned them with the example of a tree, saying that "every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit". (Mat 7:17) I think the same applies to leaders. "Good trees", that is, good foundations, will produce "good fruit", or good leadership. The same is true with bad foundations. So, lets first look at the foundations, and judge them based on what fruit they produce.
My first motivation that I examined was obligation. Oddly enough, there is not much material on leading because of obligation. Perhaps it is because obligation doesn't have the fire to sustain anyone in the long-term. Likewise, it does not instill a passion or love for the work you are doing. An episode of "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" illustrates this well. The main character, Ned, had a hard time saying 'no', and ended up taking responsibility for many different projects around the school. Eventually, he upset everyone, and burned himself out. Although it was only a kid's show, it understood what obligation does to leaders. Eventually, leading solely on obligation will lead to burn out.
The third motivation last week was calling. Calling seems to be a word thrown around in Christian circles a great deal. Most pastors will say they were "called" to the ministry. Calling to most people means a emotional excitement or passion for a topic. This was similar to my experience with a "calling". Yet, when I take a look at how great church leaders were called, it was a command, not a emotional experience. An example of this would be the call of the apostle Peter. Jesus commanded him to be a pastor, and then explained the horrible things that would happen to him, and then says "Follow Me" (John 21:15-19). Quite an radical way to recruit someone to leadership! There are then, two callings. An emotional calling, and a command calling.
Which calling is a good tree, and which is a bad one? An emotional calling is by all appearances, a good tree. Emotionally called people love what they do. Their vision, commitment, and passion are likely to fuel successful leadership. However, much like young love, passion is fleeting. The command calling is more like a marriage, a commitment to "follow" through the good and bad. The command call is a "good tree". It takes work, commitment, and is tougher than the emotional call. Nevertheless, this call produces good leadership.
My personal application this week is to take an inventory of my current motivations for the various things I lead, and see if I have 'good trees', or 'bad trees'.
(1) Collins, Jim. "How the Mighty Fall." N.p., May 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.
(2) Merriam-Webster. "Hubris" Merriam-Webster, 2013. Web. 30 Jan. 2013.