When Lord Tennyson wrote his epic poem about the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War, he neglected to report one vital thing: as the 600 riders rode fearlessly towards the enemy with their captains at the front leading the charge with their swords drawn, they soon came into range of the enemy canons. At this moment the bugler sounded “Officers to the rear! Officers to the rear!” and as the leaders reigned in their horses the common rank and file surged past to take the hits. That was not leadership. That was chickenship. The buglers in the Army of God only ever sound “Officers to the fore! Officers to the fore!” That’s because we take our leadership cue from The Leader of Leaders, Jesus Christ, who didn’t dodge any bullets but rather led the charge himself up the rocky path of Golgotha.
Teddy Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself on a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have neither known victory nor defeat.
But don’t feel that you have to read every book in great depth. Francis Bacon summed it up well saying, “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed,
and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.” But John Piper adds credence to the latter part of this quote saying, “If a book is easy and fits nicely into all your language conventions and thought forms, then you probably will not grow much from reading it. It may be entertaining, but not enlarging to your understanding. It’s the hard books that count. Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves. Digging is hard, but you might find diamonds. He goes on to quote Mortimer Adler: “Books must make demands on you. They must seem to you to be beyond your capacity”
Paul described Timothy’s leadership wattage as a flame (2 Tim 1:6). Wattage or ‘flame’ refers
to a leader’s quotient of character, gifting, skill and calling that together determine the size
of his leadership gift. Wattage is determined both by God-factors and Man-factors.
The God-factor: How much grace gifting God has given the man? Is he a two, five or ten
talent leader (Mt 25:14)? You can’t put in what God has left out.
The Man-factor: How diligently does he ‘fan to flame’ (2 Tim 1:6) the measure that God gave
him? Does he bury or deploy his God-given talents (Mt 25:14)?
It is hard to lead people much beyond the point that you yourself have gone; so raising leaders
rapidly depends on keeping growing yourself, on diligently fanning your flame.
Saul feared giants. His followers feared giants. (1 Sam 17:11)
David killed giants. His followers killed giants. (1 Chr 20:4-8)
If you are strong in faith, so will your followers be. If you are strong in the Word and Spirit then
so will they be, and so on.
The ‘wattage’ of the leader is usually proportional to the quality and quantity of his following. I
am not saying the primary leader needs to be ahead of those that he leads in every area, as
that would negate the theology of The Body and the concept of Team. But reality is that bright
bulbs tend to gather more moths than dull bulbs. So, increase your wattage. Fan that flame.
Building team, great management, and building consensus are all valid aspects of leadership, but overstate these and you are left with a generation of Ers instead of Lead-ers. And true to their name they wander around saying ‘er, um, er’ instead of giving a bold and rousing lead.