I experienced the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative this week. This training experience serves 50 urban faith based youth leaders from across the country with leadership development events and coaching. It helps them find sanity, refocus on trusting God, and create development plans that not only help them lead better but empower followers and those they serve to do their own leading.
I went to learn what they do as a way to improve our Department of Leadership development programs at Andrews University.
In reality, my biggest take away was how messed up my own leadership is. I kinda knew that going there but it was reinforced in that truth but oddly found a solace in that reality.
The last 18 months have been very difficult for me. I took on a role I have resisted for decades: I became department chair. I have resisted this for several simple reasons: I love teaching and writing/research. I loath and flee conflict. I have an unsystematic way of being an academic that got me promoted but is horrible way to do leadership. Plus, 15 years ago I was baptized with the reality of my severe limits as a thinking person. I just can’t trust my own thinking! ever again!!!
While it is hard enough to live life without trusting my own mind, it is nearly impossible to create a convincing vision that others feel confidence in, especially when I can never really have confidence in it. I just can’t trust flesh—especially my own! How do you get people to follow a vision when you know your mind (and theirs) are debilitated by self-deception?
Basically, DeVos reinforced just how bad it is: went spent most of the week on self-deption.
I was encouraged to learn that I wasn’t alone. And from the ashes we could find a shared community of grace where the broken pieces of our thinking can be knit together by the Holy Spirit to create a better vision.
Our bad leadership is deeply messed up….way down past bad behaviors to deeply estranged from God and reality.
So we all had a lot of catharsis and I have a list of people to contact and work through my discovery that my self-deception is even worse than I thought.
I guess that is helpful. Kind of just more of the same.
Self-deceived followers lead by self-deceived leaders into self-deceived visions.
Yes, leadership development that starts in a very depressing place.
Kind of the same place Joshua started his leadership journey.
We see his calling and his sprawling in Joshua 1.
“Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise…”
My biggest insight was….so what. So what if I am overwhelmed. So what if I am inadequate. So what I am totally incapable of leading like an eagle or running like a pro. I have to get used to crawling. Sprawling is a great place to start a new race type of leadership race….the race of crawling along with Jesus.
But who follows a crawling leader?