Well, let me warn you. This is long.
Chapter 1: The Power of Voice
“The church has it all wrong. It is trying to train leaders. Instead, it ought to train everyone to listen and to develop their own soundtrack. Only when you find your voice will you harness the God-given power to truly lead.” (35)
What I love about the idea that leadership is more about the ears than the eyes is that it takes time to listen. You have to stop to really do it. You have to turn down the CD player to listen to the birds. You have to turn off the heater to hear the creak in your stairs. Being who we are called to be takes time and is not sudden. You must stop to hear your soundtrack and then live in tune with that. What a mess life is when you are trying to live to another person’s beat.
Sweet suggests that in order to hear your own “soundtrack” you should be committed to four things.
The first is a commitment to truth. Truth about today, truth about what tomorrow can be. In naming the truth as it is and can be, we participate in making beauty out of ashes. This means being honest about ourselves. Sweet even says, “A good leader is different than a leader that looks good.” (36)
The second is a commitment to social justice and spiritual vibrancy. He goes on to say that leaders should be committed more to values which work themselves out through virtues than the shiftiness of self-interest. “What matters is not the products you make, but the virtues that make you.” (38) If it’s about results, then Hitler was great.
Being committed to values is probably a lot like being committed to truth. Values are truth statements. Virtues are truths lived out.
The third is a commitment to originality. I loved this section, because Sweet didn’t push for innovation, but for going back to the what has already been said. “True originality is homecoming.” (39) Again, it’s back to truth. Truth is the most original. Sweet points out that “the striking thing about Jesus is not his originality. It’s his derivativeness.” (41) It’s not about being new. It’s about being in tune with what God’s doing.
The fourth is a commitment to experiencing the breadth of what life offers. This allows a person to really find truth in all it’s various forms…
“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
Than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.”
e. e. cummings
It’s about teaching others how to sing, not how not to do something. It’s about positive motion, not negative reinforcement. We are showing other people that they have a voice. It sounds like a Barnabas thing if you ask me. It’s about coming beside people and hearing their voice and pulling it out.
So this looks like what? Paying attention to our friends. Commenting on the strengths we see in others. This takes way more commitment than I think we realize. Is anybody able to see the gifts of others? I find it’s easier to see the gifts that I have in other people. Or if I have a good friend who has a particular gift, I see that gift in others too.
The continued story of Ernest Shackleton is inspiring to say the least. It makes me want to get on a boat and push myself out to see with some friends just to get lost and experience life at sea. But then I think to myself…that’s stupid.
Anyway, Shackleton’s survival story makes Survivor look like a cruise. But what it took to get through the ordeal was optimism, integrity, idealism and endurance. We must take note that not one person died on his journey. Even though their boat wrecked and they floated aimlessly for hundreds of miles and were in the depths of freezing weather for months.
My complaint is this. If this is an anti-leadership book, why does sweet use the word leader so much?