Irresistable leadership?

My textbook, “Level Three Leadership”, defines leadership like this: “Leadership is the ability and willingness to influence others so that they respond voluntarily.”

I thought that was really interesting. Interesting, but unclear. I immediately thought of a “leader” who is willing to influence others, and had the necessary training to influence others, but is alone one a desert island. Then I realized that they might be using “ability” in not to mean “skill”, but “capability”. Perhaps better would be to simply say “Leadership is influencing others so that they respond voluntarily.” The author goes to some length to explain that his use of “voluntarily” excludes manipulation, and the breaks down manipulation into deception and coercion.

I think the word “respond” is also ambiguous, since a “leader” could easily, by being rude towards someone over whom he holds no authority, influence the other person to respond by taking an action for no other reason than to spite the “leader”. Of course, the word “leader” implies a follower, and the definition would benefit from simply explicitly stating that “Leadership is influencing others so that they follow voluntarily.”

Anyhow, none of this is what struck me as interesting. : )

What struck me as interesting is how well the definition, despite it’s weaknesses, seems to be describing irresistible grace.

Leadership clip

I need to take to class (in six days) a 2-7 minute video clip that demonstrates leadership. The leadership can be good or bad. In class we watched an episode of “The Office”, which was full of great examples of bad leadership. I can use VHS, DVD, or a computer (even youtube) file. Any suggestions?

Principles of Leadership

That’s the class I started yesterday. I think it will be a good class. It’s encouraging so far. Later I’ll post a quote from one of the books. Here are the books for the class:

Clawson, J. G. (2006). Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface, 3rd Ed.

Kouzes, J. M. & Posner, B. Z. (2003). Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI): Participant’s Workbook and Observer Instruments

The Worldview Paper

What I was supposed to write:

Worldview Paper. Write a 4 page essay describing your own worldview. Take special care to establish what you believe, why you believe it, and why you believe it is true. Address the major issue that was raised in this course and how it has contributed to strengthening, challenging, broadening, or focusing your worldview. Your essay should integrate all aspects of the course including reading assignments, discussions, and experiences.

What I wrote:

My worldview can probably be described as the Reformed tradition. It is dominated by the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, and these convince me of the truth of the five points of Calvinism. I believe this because I experience it to be true, and it is logically consistent with my meditations on the Word. My major challenge from OL306 has been the acceptance of others as fellow heirs of God. My tendency is to judge everything by logic, and declare the illogical to be invalid. However, I believe that there are at least two valid reasons why a person’s profession of faith may not seem consistent with their words or actions: weakness, and sin.

Paul writes that the thoughts of all mankind have been made futile (Romans 1:21), but that the minds of the called are being renewed (Romans 12:2). This renewing of the debased mind means that the utterances of the saints are imperfect. Their understanding should exhibit an ever-increasing conformity to Christ-likeness, but their thoughts will contain error until the time that we are fully united with Christ.

Suppose a person affirms that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scriptures alone, to the glory of God alone. If they believe that the saved are such because they “choose” to accept forgiveness and the unsaved are such because they “do not choose” to accept forgiveness, this, to me, is logically inconsistent with the affirmation of the five solas.

First, this violates “faith alone”, because as Paul writes in Romans 3:27, faith excludes boasting. If I can say that I am saved because I made a good choice then I have grounds for boasting. Second, this violates “glory to God alone” because if I have any part in my salvation, then I get a piece of the glory. Again in Romans, Paul states clearly that if Abraham had been justified by making a good choice (what else is works, but good choices?) he still would have had no grounds for boasting before God. Therefore, to me, Arminianism is salvation by works, and those who hold to it cannot truly be saved (since one cannot be saved by works).

While I do believe that my analysis of the theology is sound, I now have a better understanding that my analysis of the soul is not. People are often illogical, often confused, and often deceived. While some are certain to be offended by my conclusion that they suffer from a suboptimal articulation of their hearts, I believe it if far more offensive (and infinitely less gracious) for me to conclude that they suffer the wrath of God. Some might ask if I need to analyze the theology at all. I believe I do.

Luke commends the Bereans for examining “the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). Paul warns Timothy “some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars” (1 Timothy 1:1-2), and in his letter to the Galatians, Paul calls for an anathema on those who would pervert the gospel. Jude enjoins believers to contend for the faith. I must do so.

Does this mean that I should rebuke everyone whose theology I dispute? No, of course not. I myself am often in error, and the subject at hand is how a class discussion and textbook challenged my beliefs. I was unavoidably subjected to an Arminian explanation of atonement in class. I normally avoid Aminianism because I find it maddening. But God broadened my understanding of His love and man’s depravity. I’ve been aware of certain discrepancies here between my views and the views of teachers I respect, but I hadn’t adequately pursued reconciliation of this incongruity.

Every person is imperfect, every person has been blessed with strengths and weaknesses, and every person is inclined to understand some things more easily than others. I have a great weakness in the affections of my heart, and am woefully lacking in compassion. I have no doubt that this creates areas of profound blindness in my life, and I am grateful for the body of believers that helps me understand and appreciate that which I do not see.

While it may be obvious that sin will cause believers to live in ways that are not in accordance with their status as children of God, it hadn’t really occurred to me that it would cause believers to think in ways contrary to the gospel. I’ve not really pondered this much, but it seems logical that what we do has an effect on how we think, and that some sins will prevent us from thinking in certain ways.

If an individual makes an idol of politics, he probably will be disinclined to think in ways that are inconsistent with the functional theology that describes the salvation that he expects from his idol of politics. As Paul writes in Romans 7:22-23, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.”

I find myself most excited with the prospects of overcoming the mental blindness caused by sin. This renewal will happen inevitably, but not automatically. As I increase in the reflection of, and the delight in, the glory of Christ, I will be able to better see His glory. And the better I see His glory, the less I am blinded by sin, which leads to a better view of His glory. A glorious cycle, indeed!

But I will continue to sin, and continue to be limited by the weakness of my fallen body. I’ll need to “work out [my] salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in [me] to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phillipians 2:12-13). I’ll fail many times, but as Anne Lamott wrote about God in Plan B, “I don’t think much surprises him: this is how we make important changes–barely, poorly, slowly. And still, he raises his fist in triumph.”

The Jesus Paper

My latest homework assignment:

The Jesus Paper. In a 700 to 750 word essay, respond to the questions Jesus asks his disciples in Mark 8:27-29, “Who do people say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?” (Another account of this incident is recorded in Luke 9:18-26.) The questions require you first to discuss who Jesus is from the perspective of others. Then, provide your response to the question of who Jesus is and provide support for your answer… Does your response solicit more than an intellectual response? Explain.

I had planned on saying more, but ran out of space. Personally, I think that what I did come up with, while certainly an incomplete picture of Jesus, is as complete a picture that I could draw from the text I was told to use and the space I was given. I don’t quite meet the exact letter of the assignment, but I think I exceeded the expectations for it. I briefly thought about expanding it to cover everything I’d intended, but alas, I have another paper due in five days. I am, of course, indebted to others for their thoughts, both written and oral. In the completion of this assignment I had in mind various bits from John Piper, Mark Driscoll, and Mike Shea. All passages are from the NIV.

Who is Jesus? Matthew, Mark, and Luke each contain an account commonly known as “Peter’s Confession of Christ”. Each writer records Peter’s belief that Jesus was the Messiah and the belief of the crowds that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. The response of Jesus to each tells us a lot about his call to the lost.

After Peter’s confession, Jesus replied, “Blessed are you… for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). Peter knew the secret identity of Jesus because it was revealed to him by God the Father, not through human efforts. The other people did not know because they only possessed the wisdom of man. Lacking God’s revelation, they had no choice but to rely on man.

Their ignorance wasn’t caused solely by their reliance on the wisdom of man, it was also a consequence of the Father’s concealment of Himself (see Romans 1:28). Luke 10:21-24 tells us that “Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure… No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’ Wow! Jesus reveled in the fact that the Father would elect to reveal Himself to some, and hide Himself from others. Paul confirms that it is God’s good pleasure to destroy wisdom and frustrate intelligence (1 Corinthians 1:19).

This is good news to me on many levels. It provokes my soul to praise God that I have been made an object of mercy. It promotes humility because despite the esteem given to intellectuals, my best efforts aren’t good enough. It also provides comfort in my frustrations. Even since childhood I have been vexed by people who say things that are, in my understanding, untrue. I find solace in knowing that God hides truth. I find myself dismayed and angered (and undoubtedly in sin) when encountering those who diminish the glory of God. I am saddened when fellow believers profess a puny God. My God is an awesome God, and his words bring the universe into existence. He does not call us to himself with a plaintive “Here kitty, kitty”. He calls out “Lazarus, come out!” with all power and authority to not only reveal the truth, but to raise the dead, because it pleases Him “that you may believe” (John 11:43, 15).

While Luke 10:21-24 does an amazing job of speaking to Peter’s answer to the question, Matthew contains a parallel passage that speaks to the answer of the crowds. After Jesus delighted in the Father’s revelation to “little children”, He invited the crowds to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

The response of Jesus highlights the need to deliver the invitation. As Paul writes in Romans 10:14, “how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Paul didn’t preach using words that his audience didn’t understand. He became “all things to all men so that by all possible means [he] might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Like Paul, I need to understand my audience. I need to contextualize it to the culture. If I’m in a culture that contains no concept of an afterlife, I need to be sufficiently literate to relate the Gospel in the concepts that they have. If I’m in a culture that denies absolute truth, I need to communicate how the Gospel is relevant even while seeking to show them that their denial of absolute truth is an absolute lie.

It is interesting to note that Jesus didn’t comment on the beliefs of the unbelieving. He praised the Father’s sovereign will and then presented an invitation that was meaningful to His hearers. This affirms my conviction that it is not profitable to dwell on untruths. I need to do little more than to proclaim the gospel in a sensible way and trust Jesus to reveal the Father to those He has called to understanding.