So, here's today's words:
My favorite camp, Gilmont, is hosting a retreat next weekend to build leadership skills in our youth. Most of our kids are used to going to church retreats that have a dab of bible study along with lots of fun and games but this is the only one to specifically develop leadership skills. I have a hunch it’s also a good time for the camp to scope out possibly summer camp counselors. I love the idea so much I went to the church and got special funding for us to pay to send three kids. The first three among our youth to express an interest would get the scholarships. I was a bit surprised that the kids I expected to want to go were non-committal about it.
So I tried another tactic. I picked a couple of kids I really wanted to develop and urged them to go. Maybe urge is not the right word. I gave them the paperwork and told them they were going.
About an hour later one of the kids came up to me holding out the still blank paperwork. He had a kind of panicked look in his eyes. “I don’t think this is for me. I’m not a leader.”
Not a leader?! I disagreed immediately then realized he was thinking of a different kind of leadership than I was. He was thinking of the one fueled by a society that values glitter and volume. I realized I needed to come up with a better definition if I wanted this kid to go develop his talents.
The best kind of leadership is when you use it to serve others. It’s called Servant Leadership. Jesus talked about it a lot.
I married the perfect example of Servant Leadership. Beaven is one of those people who would hesitate at the title of Leader but takes pride in being a great Follower. And I think this is the best kind of leader. A follower will always do a better job of leading than someone who doesn’t understand how to follow.
Beaven started out working for WFAA-TV in 1967. He got paid $100 a week. If you do the math that’s less than $3 an hour. He had no experience in television maintenance beyond building his own TV with a Heathkit. But broadcast maintenance is such a small niche you really can’t go to school to learn it. So they were happy to train him on the job. He retired 33 years later as the Director of Engineering.
That title makes him sound like a leader. And, in fact, he was. He went to high level staff meetings with people who had graduated from Ivy League colleges. He managed a multi-million dollar budget. He had control over large projects that included re-modeling the building. He was in charge of building a new transmitter tower when an airplane flew into it. He was in charge of converting Channel 8 to Hi-definition broadcasting.
He was in charge of a lot of things.
But he did it with a servant’s heart. When it came time for the station to sign on in High Definition they were the first TV station in Dallas to do it and it was a major coup for WFAA. They planned the event to be broadcast live and with much ceremony. And most people assumed Beaven would be the one to throw the switch. But he insisted another guy do it. Wayne was the one who had worked the most on the project and Beaven felt like he deserved the honor.
Did I also mention that Beaven is a huge introvert? Introverts make great leaders. They tend to stay quiet and in the background. Their introversion makes them attentive to a lot of details extroverts miss while we’re running our mouths. Introverts usually know, for example, who possesses the exact talent you need at any given moment. They are more than happy to delegate not only responsibility but glory.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately on the idea that introverts make great leaders. Susan Cain wrote a book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” Forbes magazine carried an article on the subject: here's the link to that article
You don’t have to stand in front of a microphone or camera and tell everyone what to do in order to be a leader. You don’t have to be the one leading the charge up the hill. A leader is the one who knows how to assess the hill and can identify the best people to be in front of the charge, what weapons they should carry and who should stay behind and why. A leader will be the one willing to cook for the soldiers and bandage their wounds and sharpen their swords.
Pastors and such call this Servant Leadership. And in John 13 Jesus showed us how it’s done when He washed the disciples’ feet. I hope my friend will think again about whether he’s a leader or not. The worlds needs a lot more leaders like Jesus.