COMMUNITY — THE FIFTH “C”

I love an old African proverb that says,

“If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”

I love the invitation embedded in that proverb, but if I am honest, I have to admit that my native wiring is to go fast and furious. In fact, I think that for most of my life my practiced approach to community was to find others that wanted to run fast and furious with me. However, living in community is far more than that.

High capacity leaders in the 21st century are those that live and lead in community. It is one result of a tectonic shift in culture.  For example, it used to be that the notion of a leader as Lone Ranger was a good thing. Riding in on a white horse to save the day single-handedly is the way great leaders carried themselves. That day is over. Today, leaders that operate today as autocratic individualists are suspect.

Here’s the catch, for all the potential of leading in community, moving into community comes at a high front end cost. To develop community requires vulnerability, sacrifice, substantial time, and one of the toughest challenges for leaders — the subordination of personal opinions to the collective discernment of the community.

Leaders that live and lead in community pay attention to healthy process and cultivating safe environments. They transform basic conversation into relationally based journeys of discernment. They submit their personal agendas to the group and allow collective wisdom to shape priorities and decisions. They champion the contribution and giftedness of others in the community. They make themselves dispensable.

Even though leaders are surrounded by the people they lead, the reality is that most live in an ongoing state of isolation. So, even if you as a leader are the only one at risk, it is time to seek out, form, choose, and live in interdependence with others.

So, what lives deep in you? The desire to simply go fast? Or the conviction that you long to go far?

[If you would like a .pdf version of a reproducible article describing the “5 C’s of a High Capacity Leader” send me an email request and I will forward it to you. Send to admin@noredcapes.com]

The Value of Sacrifice

Twice during my recent trip to Romania I had the same fascinating conversation. However, it happened two different times with two different ministry leaders. While asking about the changes that have taken place since the revolution in 1989, everyone I spoke with described the dizzying speed and substance of change that has taken place throughout Romania. However, two of the pastors I was with described a downside of these changes you won’t hear much of in America.

One of them, Valentin, told me about growing up in extreme poverty. There were many times he and his family had no food to eat at all. He and his brother shared the very same set of clothes and thus could only go out in public one at a time. Then Valentin told me about his concern for his own children these days. He said, “my children have no idea what it means to go without food. Sometimes they complain when we didn’t serve bread during a meal. I look at them and worry, they have no idea what it is to have no food at all.”

Another one of these leaders expressed it this way, “my children and their generation have it so good, they have no idea what it is to suffer. I am worried that because they haven’t suffered they don’t how to sacrifice. They don’t know about the privilege and power and life-shaping impact of sacrifice. I worry we might have a generation of leaders in the church that doesn’t know how to make sacrifices.”

They speak of a life and a value system that sounds foreign to a western ear. We are busy worrying about how to provide everything our children need. They are worried about the downside of having all your needs met. We worry about how to keep our children and families safe and comfortable. They are concerned that without knowing how to sacrifice your soul is somehow short-changed.

Sacrifice is not the pathway to less, it is the way to fulfillment, meaning, impact and more. In many situations, the path to healing and wholeness runs right through the valley of sacrifice. These leaders have lived there and they see in the eyes of their children the downsides of the very comfort we seek.

Maybe the path to healing of our culturally reinforced addiction to acquisition, to a life of meaning and mission, travels through the very suffering and sacrifice we typically avoid.