Sunday, August 31, 2008

Worldview Leadership: Origins

As I've mentioned previously, I teach classes at The Brook Hill School in Bullard, Texas. This year I am teaching a class on worldviews. Without giving an extensive lesson here, let me summarize the worldview concept: worldviews are best understood as a "lens" through which we view the world and try to make sense of reality. Worldviews are built by our presuppositions, and they answer the most basic of questions: where did I come from, what went wrong, what is the solution, and where am I going. If you are interested in a thorough discussion of the concept (with special attention to its Christian applications), see David Naugle's Worldview: The History of a Concept. For a recently published brief introduction to the concept and a reflection on its implications, see (Re)Thinking Worldview by J. Mark Bertrand.

Let's spend a few weeks being a bit more philosophical about leadership. That means we need to ask some deep questions and look for some deep answers. This week I'd like to reflect on the leadership implications for how we answer the question, "Where did I come from?" Though the tongue-in-cheek answer, "a mommy and daddy who love each other very much" may be a good start, I'm talking about much bigger issues. How did humanity begin? Are we the product of random chance? Are we simply "dust in the wind"? Or, is there a greater purpose in our lives? How you answer the first worldview question has tremendous implications for your leadership. If there really is a purposeful force at work in the universe, then servant leaders must ask themselves how their leadership fits within the plan of that Divine Purpose.

The standard Christian answer to these questions is that the universe really is purposeful, in spite of its seeming randomness. Additionally, Christians can find both a great hope and a great burden in being part of that purpose. The hope: our trials are only temporary, and they serve a kingdom that will never end. The burden: our king expects us to be diligent servants.

IDEA LEADERS: (1) Do you believe the universe is purposeful or random? (2) If the universe is purposeful, what is its purpose? (3) How does your leadership responsibility fit within that larger purpose?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Faithful Presidents

So how much do you know about the faith of American presidents? Take this quiz to find out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Religion and Politics

When thinking about the Founders' opinions, it's hard not to think about issues of church and state. Yet productive conversations about such are difficult as nothing seems to bring fiery emotions into a conversation like religion and politics. Such conversations often generate more heat than light. To better understand how you believe church and state should relate, take this quiz.

America is a unique nation that allows unique opportunities for believers of various political persuasions. This is one issue that is definitely worth thinking through.

Blessings to all of us as the 2008 presidential elections begin to go into full swing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tired of negative campaigns?

Unfortunately, negative campaigns are nothing new.  The Founders knew how to sling mud too.  For the full story, click here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book Review: What Would the Founders Do?

I recently purchased a copy of Richard Brookhiser's What Would the Founders Do? is currently selling it for $5.99. For the price of lunch at Subway, you can hang out with the Founders. Not bad.

Brookhiser is knowledgeable, interesting, and readable. That sets him apart from most academic history texts, and What Would the Founders Do? is certainly intended for a popular audience. The book begins by establishing similarities and differences between the Founders' world and ours - and this section alone is fascinating. After laying that foundation, Brookhiser moves on to asking questions, addressing several hot-button issues (he begins with gun control, the death penalty, and stem cell research). The book is divided into topical chapters, which are further divided into specific questions, so readers need not work through the entire book to find answers to their particular concerns.

Some critics will say that Brookhiser is selective in his illustrations and speculative in his conclusions. Yet all history is such. The question is: does the historian select and speculate responsibly. Since I don't have a PhD in history, I'm reluctant to make a final call on that question, but based on Brookhiser's reputation, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Additionally, his conclusions will frustrate conservative and liberal readers alike, which makes me think his approach is even handed.

IDEA LEADER: Do you have any historical role models? If so, why do you look to them for guidance? If not, spend this week considering who would make a good role model for you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Meet Catherine Booth

Though I don't know a lot about the Salvation Army, I do appreciate their efforts to alleviate human suffering - both physical and spiritual. For a brief introductory article to the Army's co-founder, Catherine Booth, click here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Think Different

everal years ago Apple Computers began to use "think different" as an advertising slogan. Though grammatically awkward ("different" is being used as an adverb, and should therefore use the -ly ending), it is certainly a good motto for leaders. The phrase also describes one of George Washington's key leadership principles. Besides his concern for posterity and his ability to accept and renounce executive power at-will, George Washington exhibited the ability to "think different."

Washington's refusal to play by the standard rules of European warfare helped his rag-tag army survive and eventually overcome the threat of the British Army. However his ability to "think different" predates the Revolutionary War. His entrepreneurial spirit demonstrated itself in how he managed his Virginia plantation. At the time, Virginia planters typically relied on tobacco, which was to be sold in English markets. Washington felt that he never received a good return from England on his tobacco crops, so in 1766 he ventured into other crops. These ventures included successfully growing wheat, milling it himself, and selling it locally. He also harvested fish from the Potomac and produced clothing for his workers.

Though traditional methods may seem safe, they are not always best for you or for those you lead. Those who truly want to lead others (and themselves) to new successes must "think different." The first step in learning to "think different" is to consider the areas of your life that are bound by tradition. Tradition in itself is certainly not a bad thing, but an unreflective submission to tradition will keep individuals from discovering their full potential.

IDEA LEADER: In what ways are you bound by tradition? What are three particular ways you can "think different" this week?

Photo: Diego Medrano

Muslims, Women, and Servant Leadership

For an interesting article about a muslim woman striving to be a servant leader who empowers other women, please click here.