Weekly Thought – February 14, 2017
Fred and Mary Alice had a sweet love story. Even though they met in 7th grade, they did not date until after graduation from Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville, TN. She worked behind the candy counter at the S.S. Kress store; he would go in, buy a small bag of candy and talk to her. She often talked about what she saw in him: “He had the desire and ability to make something of himself. He was the kind of man I wanted for a husband and for the father of my children.” An interesting twist: Years later Fred was named to the Corporate Board of S.S. Kress. He gave her the first directors’ check with this note: “The second sweetest thing I ever got from Kress.”
A true leader is committed to the cause; a true leader does not become the cause.
Staying personally dedicated to the cause can become extremely difficult, particularly if the cause succeeds. A subtle change in thinking can overtake the leader of a successful operation. He or she begins “needing” certain things to carry out the work, whether business or ministry. Early on, the material necessities were minimal. With success too often comes the requirement of more. For example, I overheard a man saying, “How in the world did we ever get along without a company plane?” Success brought the redefinition of basic minimal requirements. It is good to step back and analyze the role of personal ego.
I see this in churches, as well, even though the signs are less visible. When the leader begins entertaining the thought, “What am I getting out of this?” the focus is shifting from the cause to the personal wants of the individual. The focus has become diffused. Other symptoms are professional marketing programs to “enhance the ministry,” time spent on personal visibility and recognition, denominational political progress, etc. The line between the ministry (cause) and the personality becomes blurred.
I greatly admire Mother Teresa of Calcutta. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize she decided she would not accept any further recognition. She was convinced it interfered with her work. She knew her calling and purpose was not to accept prizes and win acclaim. She was in the business of serving the poor of Calcutta. She knew what it would take to stay focused. It also kept her work untainted by political interests, who offered recognition and acclaim in exchange for being connected with her and her reputation.
Most of us leaders have an emotional block occasionally. We need to return to the vision, restate it to ourselves, and rekindle the spark. We must ask, “What is my purpose? Am I satisfying my ego through this ministry or sacrificing my ego to it?” Genuine leaders can say with Paul, “Follow me – as I follow Christ.”
This week think about: 1) What is my cause? 2) How clear am I on the purpose of my work? 3) What steps do I need to take to clarify my leadership?
Words of Wisdom: “A true leader is committed to the cause; a true leader does not become the cause.”
Wisdom from the Word: “I will give them a single-minded purpose to live in a way that always shows respect for me. They will want to do that for their own good and the good of the children who descend from them.” (Jeremiah 32:39 NET Bible)