Friday, May 19, 2006

Prove it!

“Are you really an Extreme Leader? Prove it. Prove it through the alignment between your words and your actions. Prove it by standing up for what’s right. Prove it through measurable, tangible signs of progress. Prove it through your own experience. Prove it through your phenomenal successes. Prove it through your glorious failures. And prove it all on these three levels: (1) Prove it to others. (2) Prove it to yourself. (3) Prove to others that you’re proving it to yourself.”

-Steve Farber, “The Radical Leap,” page 174.

Have you ever played the game called HORSE? I played it when I was younger. It involved a basketball, two or more players, skill and some luck. The way we played it, if a person missed a shot that gave them the letter “E,” then the person who made the original shot had to “prove it” by making the shot again. Was the person who originally made the shot skillful enough to make it again?

Not everyone is an Extreme Leader. Many proclaim to be leaders. Some are… some aren’t. True leaders prove it over and over again. The business world has its Extreme Leader—they are in high demand. Does the Church have Extreme Leaders? I can name a few. Does the PCUSA have any Extreme Leaders? I am having trouble naming even one! I can think of lots of “good” people who are in leadership positions. I can think of people who have given their lives to the church. Good people! But what about Extreme Leaders?

The PCUSA has had several decades of a leadership void. The denomination keeps doing the same old things and we keep losing 40,000+ people per year. The problem is not just the denomination. The leadership problem runs through most of our churches.

Can I “prove” that I am an Extreme Leader? The next few months will tell. Our church is facing several major challenges. Will I be willing to stand up for what is right even if it costs me my job? Can I prove through measurable progress? Can I prove it through my successes and failures?

Farber says that we need to prove it to others, to ourselves and to others that you are proving it ourselves. In the church, I think we need to modify this a bit. First, we God to prove it to us. Second, we need to prove it to ourselves. Third, we need to prove it to others. And finally, we need to prove it to others that we are proving it to ourselves.

In the PCUSA, our “Book of Order” (our rule book), makes it difficult for the pastor to be an Extreme Leader. The Session (church speak for our church leadership board) officially calls the shots. The pastor can be an Extreme Leader but it is difficult within our structure. That is part of the reason that we have so few leaders at the national level.

Our local churches (and our denomination) need Extreme Leaders who are willing to prove it. Without these leaders our denomination will fade into irrelevance.

Am I willing to be one of those Extreme Leaders who are willing to prove it? To be honest, for my church—YES! I am willing to put it all on the line for those people I love, respect, care for, laugh with and cry with. These are the people that God has called me to pastor/shepherd. I am willing to prove it to them over and over again. I will lead with word and deed. I will lead with love and energy. God is holding me accountable for Evergreen Presbyterian Church.

Am I willing to be one of those Extreme Leaders who are willing to prove it to the PCUSA? To be honest, probably not. I have tried at the Presbytery level. I am confident that a small cheer went up when I went off of General Council. I refused to be a “yes” person. I finally gave up. The PCUSA bureaucracy kills Extreme Leaders. The PCUSA has drifted very far from its biblical roots. The national church is out of touch with the local church. If I saw even a small hint that there was hope for the PCUSA then I might be willing to step up to the plate. But until then…

Are you willing to prove that you are an extreme leader for your church? For the PCUSA?


At 10:06 PM , Anonymous tonyc said...

Extreme leaders in the PCUSA? Here are 3 that come to mind immediately:
John Fife
Marj Carpenter
Bill Thompson (recently deceased)

I'll just put those out there and see if it generates some comment. Although I'm late enough on this that your readers may not notice!

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