Friday, November 5, 2010

Leadership in a Time of Fear

Two years ago our nation went to the polls and voted for change. On Tuesday, November 2nd, we seemingly did the same thing in reverse. Two years ago, we said to a group of folks, "have a go at it." Tuesday we said that we were going to let others have a try.

I actually think that people of all political persuasions should be deeply concerned about this fickle, and I would add, fearful electorate. Two years, 24 months, 104 weeks, 730 day is not enough time to make a judgment about the quality of leadership. Indeed, suggesting that it is causes leaders to settle for band aids and quick fixes rather than long-term transformational changes.

I sense the same thing happening in our churches. I will often be with a congregation that is highly anxious about their future. In many cases, the people are dealing with significant problems that developed over a long period of time, sometimes decades—just like our elected leaders. These anxious congregants or vestry members want the problem fixed quickly. Often, their perceived quick fix is the new priest. I find myself offering a bit of wisdom that I inherited. If it took some many years to get into this mess, then feel free to take the same amount of time fixing it.

It is my conviction that we are addicted to the quick fix in our political life, our social life, and our religious life. Fearful, we adulate emerging leaders, blame them, and then attack them. In both our civic life and our church life, we have serious problems to solve. When Britain faced the Nazi menace, the king called on Churchill to form a government. It was, however, a coalition government. I wonder if we treated these times of great economic travail as a similar time and committed to coalition, we might actually solve problems.

What if the president had a cabinet that truly looked like America, including Republican, Democrat, and neither? What if we had coalitions of theological diversity actually come together to plan a missional future? We actually may move our social order and religious order to a completely new level. Maybe this is how to lead in a time of fear.

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