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Leadership in crisis, educator tells peers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A leadership crisis in America has resulted in a society that is “over-managed and under-led,” a Christian schools educator told his peers during a seminar on “Building Schools of Influence.”
About 50 Christian school administrators, school board members and pastors attended the June 21-24 conference sponsored by Christian school resources of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Mickey Bowden, superintendent of Westminster Christian Academy, Opelousas, La., said, “Managers are concerned about doing things right, while leaders are concerned about doing the right thing.”
He said six societal reasons contribute to the leadership crisis:
— A lack of trust, because so many leaders, including religious leaders, have fallen.
— A crisis of confidence, resulting from broken trust.
— A “me” generation mentality in which emerging leaders have a self-centered focus.
— Celebrity syndrome, in which popular personalities replace heroes who stand for right.
— Rapid change, creating a constantly altered context in which to work.
— A premium on knowledge instead of on character, and in the sports world, higher value on physical abilities than on character.
Bowden said organizational issues also affect leadership in schools. Among those are tradition, a need for conformity, lack of innovation, crippling criticism that inhibits action on new ideas and boards of directors who do not invest in leadership.
Individuals, he said, also hamper leadership themselves when they do not have vision, values, a passion for their work, courage, faith, discernment, discipline, soul, skill and dependence on God.
“So many people are caught up in today, they don’t think about the future,” he said of leaders without vision. “Theirs is reactive management.”
Others “are more concerned with pleasing others than pleasing God. So few leaders lead by faith, willing to trust God for resources, wisdom and strength,” he observed. Some try to lead out of their personal power rather than depending on God.
Successful leaders, he continued, “always have a positive view of the future. They are driven by the pursuit of the ideal, closing the gap between the real and the ideal. They are results-oriented.”
Those leaders with vision can also communicate. “Those kinds of leaders empower others.”
And persistence, Bowden said, is characteristic of successful leaders who “don’t even think about retreat. There is no turning back.”
Successful leaders, “once they understand God is the one who is in control, realize they will never accomplish anything alone,” he said. They have a healthy self-respect, resulting in respect for others. They engage in “contagious encouragement” and respond to failure by learning from it. “They don’t live a life of defeat,” he said. “They bounce back.”
In other sessions during the seminar in Nashville, Tenn., Glen Schultz, manager of LifeWay’s Christian school resources, said, “God calls leaders to lead his people in doing his will.”
Describing “kingdom leadership” as “a willingness to rise to the bottom,” Schultz said “true leadership is a serving role. The higher in leadership you go, the more people you have to support.”
The result of education, he said, is that every child leaves the educational experience with a philosophy of life and a worldview. One’s worldview — the underlying belief system held by an individual — will determine attitudes and actions in life, he observed.
Worldview includes a person’s views of the nature of God, the nature of man, knowledge, right and wrong and the future.
Schultz said a school’s beliefs about truth and reality affect educational outcomes.
“What one considers to be true determine his beliefs; what one believes determines his values; and one’s values determine one’s actions.”
But he said there are limits to leadership.
“You can lead people to where you have never been, but you cannot lead them to where you are unwilling to go.”
A kingdom leader, he concluded, “can see what God wants to accomplish, inspire others to want to accomplish the vision and is determined to set a personal example for others to emulate.”

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  • Charles Willis