Leadership — Learning from Others

A preacher must be a student of leadership.  Not only does he have a calling to lead people to faith in God and to serve God, but the New Testament also designates the pastor as the “overseer” of the church.  Thus, he must lead his church not only in spiritual matters – but such diverse areas as motivating volunteers, as well as staff members, and guiding finances and construction of buildings (even in churches with multi-million dollar budgets).

The Bible has much to say about leadership – such as Nehemiah’s leadership in the Old Testament and the obvious leadership of Christ in the New Testament.

I try to study leadership – not only in the Bible, but also in military, business, politics, etc.  I am fascinated at how successful men can be with different styles of leadership.

General Douglas MacArthur was a tremendously successful leader with a decisive, bold and strong style.  When he took over in the Philippines, his adjutant general proudly presented him with a bound volume of all the previous decisions made by his predecessors.  MacArthur immediately told the adjutant to burn all copies of the volume – that he would not be bound by precedents and would make all decisions henceforth.

The equally successful General Dwight Eisenhower, on the other hand, was gregarious.  He mixed easily with staff and discussed all decisions with subordinates.  He waited for general agreement among his staff.

Likewise, Admiral “Bull” Halsey was gregarious and well-liked, often dispensing with formal protocol on a first-name basis.  Halsey “had a knack of involving everybody in discussion,” according to one of his subordinate officers.  Halsey was genuinely interested and recognized merit in good ideas coming from junior officers.

Halsey and MacArthur had great respect for one another.  MacArthur said of Halsey, “I liked him from the moment we met.”  He admired Halsey’s “blunt, outspoken, dynamic” demeanor.  Halsey said that his respect for MacArthur also grew steadily from the time they met.  Halsey said, “I have seldom seen a man who makes a quicker, stronger, more favorable impression.”  He saw in MacArthur “masterly administration” and found that whenever they disagreed that they could discuss a matter until one of them changed his mind.

Eisenhower copied MacArthur in mastering the details of an issue and then stubbornly sticking to his argument with logic and facts.  Eisenhower sought to use facts and not be ruled by emotion.

We can learn from these great men who so ably led our nation.  Probably in church leadership we need to pattern ourselves more after Eisenhower, although from time to time we need a little bit of MacArthur in us, too!

Pastor Jim


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