2012 Is About Leadership


Leadership is always central, but never more so than during times of transition, Parham observes.
Leadership is the pole to which many issues are tethered in 2012.

As the Arab Spring unfolds in a new year, the struggle is over leadership.

American electoral politics is about leadership. Clashing Republicans seek to find a standard-bearer to challenge President Obama.

At the state and local levels, both Republicans and Democrats seek their best arm wrestlers to defeat arm wrestlers from the other party.

Leadership will determine if the nation pursues social justice or retreats to economic inequity, scientific reactivity and xenophobic negativity.

Leadership is at the heart of what happens to the National Council of Churches and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Facing revenue challenges, both bodies are searching for new leaders.

Leadership is high on the agenda of significant goodwill Baptist churches. Smoke Rise Baptist Church, First Baptist Church of Wilmington, First Baptist Church of Greensboro, First Baptist Church of Greenville and First Baptist Church of Tallahassee are seeking senior pastors.

Having created wreckage over two decades, the Southern Baptist Convention seeks to redress leadership failures.

Some think the solution is to rebrand the denomination with a new name. But renaming is less important than who leads the denomination.

The death of Steve Jobs leaves shareholders and consumers wondering if the new leaders at Apple will keep the company at the cutting edge of technological innovation.

Leadership is always central, but never more so than during times of transition.

For people of faith, the biblical witness provides the best record of the upside and downside of leadership in transition.

One of those valuable sources of insight appears in the realistic stories found in 1 and 2 Kings.

Looking at Leadership is a 13-week study on Kings, which we are now using in my Sunday school class and which was produced by EthicsDaily.com.

Between the announcement that "King David was old" (1 Kings 1:1) and "the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon" (1 Kings 2:46), we find a story of rebellion, manipulation, jealousy, broken promises, revenge and assassinations.

David might have been a man after God's own heart, but he was still a man, a flawed one.

His flawed natured appeared as he drew his last breaths.

In one breath, he urged his son, Solomon, to walk in God's way, keeping God's statutes and commandments. In the next breath, he told his son to eliminate Joab, the general, and Shimei, the critic.

Solomon, too, was ruthless and pious. Once he had removed his internal opposition, he fortified his external alliances. He married Pharaoh's daughter, hardly an example of walking in God's commandments, one of which prohibited marriage to foreigners (Deuteronomy 7:1-6).

And then Solomon had a dream encounter with God at Gibeon, in which Solomon asked God for the gift of wisdom, disclosing both humility and a desire to be moral, to be good.

Solomon asked for what may be the most important quality of leadership.

"Courage is an important leadership ingredient; but courage without wisdom may lead to brave folly," reads the lesson. "Integrity is an important leadership ingredient; but integrity without common sense may lead to impractical Puritanism. Creativity is an important leadership ingredient; but creativity without discernment may lead to unworkable solutions. Wisdom is the most important quality of leadership."

If you want to think biblically about leadership, then I commend to you an EthicsDaily.com curriculum unit on leadership.

These stories will help people of faith to think realistically and morally about leadership.

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1.

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