Democracy And Servant Leadership

I woke up this morning thinking about a new event in my life. I was just appointed Department Chair for Business at Warner Pacific College. I am apprehensive but excited about the challenges of this position. Whenever, I get up this early I want to write, and this morning was no different. I read my Bible, newspapers, the Economist, and the three books I have going at this time. Nothing grabbed me until I read two quotes that hit me right between the eyes.

Jim Wallis is one of my favorite authors, and in chapter 13 of his book “On God’s Side” he quotes Reinhold Neibuhr and C.S Lewis. These two quotes displayed to me the connection between a fallen race and the need for democratic processes.

Neibuhr said, “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.” As I pondered this I reflected on a conversation I heard on NPR, and yes I listen to NPR. The two sides within the Egyptian conflict were represented on a radio program the other day. One person being interviewed was a secularist and the other representing the Muslim Brotherhood position. These two individuals could not talk to each other in a civil manner so the commentator had to shut down the discussion. One of the people walked out of the room and because the other person would not stop arguing the moderator had to turn off their microphone. Absolutely no progress was made to create dialogue.

C.S. Lewis’s quote builds on the poignancy of Neibuhr. “I am a democrat [proponent of democracy] because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. . . The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. . .I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.”

I believe that mankind is fallen. Therefore, because of my propensity to sin, I don’t trust myself to always make the best decisions. Therefore, I try to create mechanisms of accountability. I think our founding fathers attempted the same thing with the balance of roles within our government. However, for this accountability to work I have to be open to critical words that someone may say about my actions. I need to be teachable. This is a critical element of any democratic system.

Another critical element involves leadership.  Leadership is multifaceted, but there are a couple of elements that seem to be especially important to a successful organizational system. First, the role of a leader is to insure that the system supports dialogue; dialogue that can be both positive and confrontational. Second, the leader must be a  servant.

As I embark on this new role I mentioned above, I intend to create an environment of dialogue. I think it is very important to get the right people at the table to discuss actions that need to occur. I also think it is critical for me as a leader to serve those at the table to ensure they feel supported and empowered to make positive change. Why, because we are a fallen race, and must work together to make a difference?

And that is my thought for the day!



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