Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Monday Morning Meditation #36: The Difficulties Leaders Have in Following God

After reading about all the kings who either did good but allowed the worship of Baal or did evil in the sight of the Lord, I began to wonder whether it is possible for royalty to be good/godly. While that may be a discussion for another place and time, with someone possessing greater knowledge of the topic than I, the failure after failure, especially with individuals who started out successfully, resonated with me. And so, I stopped my reading this week at the end of II Kings.

Reading: II Kings 7-25

Meditation: On a daily basis, I attempt to develop the leadership skills of a couple dozen middle and senior-level managers, using concepts associated with servant leadership. While one aspect of developing good leaders involves teaching them how to care about their people, understand those who work for them, and follow and apply organizational rules and regulations, there is another part that is rarely, if ever, discussed widely: God's role in our work.

Personally, I am fortunate. All the senior managers who report to me are believers and willing to discuss issues in spiritual terms, as well as pragmatic and legalistic ones.

The senior managers are not so fortunate. They must provide direction to a range of junior managers, some of whom are committed to personal ambitions that lead to self-centered/self-promoting decisions. Reaching down to these new managers, to help them understand that any decision that does not put God at its center is not likely to be the best possible decision in the long run, is difficult. First, organizational policies do not permit these kinds of discussions, the closest we can get being a discussion of servant leadership, which reflects principles from all three Abrahamic religions. Second, some junior managers, particularly those without any spiritual beliefs, do not want this kind of discussion; they do not want to think about what role God should play in their/our work. Separation of church and state can make leading godly lives as managers and leaders very difficult.

And then, admittedly, there are those times when I really do not want to listen. I know what God is telling me, but just for the moment, I really want to have my anger over some event, some person's failure to perform, or some behavior that has irritated me. And so I turn a deaf ear -- after which, of course, I feel horribly guilty and penitent. But that moment did take place, and there is no way to return to it and make it not take place. One can apologize, take actions to remediate/alleviate and otherwise try to mitigate the damage, pray, go to confession, and otherwise be willing to set things right with God and any individuals involved, but the fact that these moments occur (and probably will continue to occur) point out just how fallible one can become in a leadership position -- and I am far, far, far below the level of king. So, I find it easy to understand how the kings of the Old Testament failed and how the kings of today (whether royalty or just business/political leaders) fail.

There are also those times that the God-directed decision is not the popular decision or even the accepted decision by the uppermost level of management. Surprisingly, those are the easiest situations for me although they have not always been so. With the passage of time and the following of God's direction where I have been able to discern it, I have found that "selling" the "right" decision is possible. Moreover, God rewards us when we follow Him. I have often told subordinate leaders that sometimes to be a good leader one must be willing to lose one's job for making the right, rather than the popular or required, decision. I know whereof I speak. I have lost a job in that manner -- and God found me a better one. Since then, I have had complete trust in God when it comes to work. I don't have to watch out for me because God watches out for me.

And that is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I must retire to prayer to ask God to intervene when I want to keep my anger or otherwise react in a non-servant, un-godly manner at work (or at home), to thank Him for his daily guidance, to praise Him for the wonderful ways in which He has been present for me and for the leaders in my organization on an every-minute basis, and to repent for those times that I have ignored His presence through inattention or desire to "do my own thing." After that, I will spend as much time as I can in contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.

I will now leave you to your prayer and contemplation, but first, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I hope you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts.

For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs that follow the enumeration of Monday Morning Meditations on the sidebar of this blog and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.

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