Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A little point on leadership

If you want to "up" you blog views, including a word like "leadership" in the title is not a bad start. Leadership is a very popular topic at the moment - you can read books on it, do degrees in it, go to training courses to make you a better one...etc.

I have no intention on writing a full manifesto on leadership at this point! All I'm doing is making one, isolated observation.

In my personal Bible reading time at the moment I'm reading through Exodus and Proverbs. Kind-of a strange combination, but that's what my system produced for me. Today I was reading Exodus 18 and Proverbs 12.

In Exodus 18 Jethro (Moses's father-in-law) comes to visit the newly liberated Israel under the leadership of Moses. And, he sees that Moses is, well, snowed under. It seems that everyone who has a dispute comes to Moses for him to sort it out.

Jethro's advice is to get a bit of help - delegate this task of 'judging'. But what caught my eye in the context of leadership was the qualifications of these delegates. Jethro says "look for able men from all people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe." (Ex 18:21)

What was interesting for me was that yes, they were to be able (we are not told what their abilities should be, but maybe it was something to do with understanding the legal system), but just as, or even more important is their character. They are to be god-fearers, trustworthy, honourable.

That sounds very Proverbs-ish don't you think?

"The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful." (Pr 12:5)
"Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit." (Pr 12:17)
"One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbour, but the way of the wicked leaders them astray."(Pr 12:26)

When we are looking for leaders, critiquing leaders, choosing new leaders, I wonder how we manage the balance of character and competence? I think the world pretty quickly sense - competency is king and character is a distant second - as long as character doesn't impinge on your ability to do the job.

But I think this little snippet from Exodus and Proverbs maybe says we can't separate the two. Perhaps character is more important, or even defines your competency?

If this is true, it is of course a great challenge for those of us who have positions of leadership. I don't know about you, but I have moments when the writer of Proverbs could well use me as his anti-example (if you know what I mean).

Exodus 18 and Provers 12 was a good reminder for me to keep on shaping my character according the scriptures.

No comments: