Friday, August 11, 2017

Being a Brave and Hopeful Leader

Ever attended a Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit?  If not you are missing out on a whole lot of really good stuff.   I am here for I believe the fifth time .... started in 2013 ... and I walk away blessed and challenged.

The day started with song that is nowhere to be found on the internet, which is tragic because I loved it!   Hopefully eventually it will be available to the world.  ((If you can find it, let me know!).   I'm not going to try to sing it, for which you should be grateful :-), but the chorus went something like this, 
We call on the rebels, the fighters, the champions of change... come be leaders, unites, we call on the brave.
The song has not stopped going through my mind ... it was powerful.

In the afternoon, we heard a presentation called "Being a Brave and Hopeful Leader. It was articulately delivered by Brian Stevenson, who Wikipedia will tell you is " an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law.   He wrote a book called, "Just Mercy" that I have already ordered.   He made four main points which I will explain from my context and my own filters.

1)  Leadership involves proximity.   You can't be effective from a distance.  You have to know the people you are serving because problems can't be solved from a  distance.  There is power in proximity. 
Leading from a distance can often result in leading by fear or anger, and that will lead to dangerous places.

2)  We have to understand and change the narratives we believe and when we do that we can be liberated.   Questions like "what are the narratives that I believe about myself... about the poor ... about a particular race ... about the place I work ...." are significant.  

3)  Leaders can never give up hope.  You've heard me say this in this blog countless times, but it is really the key to leadership.  Leaders hold out hope.   Hopelessness is the enemy of justice, the enemy of leadership.  

4)  Leadership means willing to do uncomfortable things.  Walking into situations and and embracing  those who are broken and surrounded by brokenness is the only way to lead.   The first step to this is recognize our own brokenness.

The work that Brian Stevenson does leads him to death row.  It has him defending the mentally ill, children who are tried as adults when they shouldn't be, people who have been wrongly accused. So when he talks about the four principles above, he lives them out every day. 

So I'm starting my day with these words running through my head -- I hope they will run through yours as well:

We call on the rebels, the fighters, the champions of change... come be leaders, unites, we call on the brave. 

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