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Leadership

Unfit for Leadership

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Over the past few months, we've seen the rise of a particular phrase in our popular public discourse. You've probably heard it bandied about, or perhaps have even used it yourself. It's the phrase, "unfit for leadership." Both presidential candidates have been the subject of that clause, and the more I have heard it used, the more it has struck me that we may have stumbled into one of the greatest opportunities we, as Christians, have to offer a clear definition to our culture of what it means to actually be fit for leadership.

We have become desensitized as a culture to the call to virtuous leadership. Our distrust of politicians has been well-documented recently, but beyond politics the once mighty rivers of trust we had in religious, civic, and other institutional leaders have slowly evaporated into weak, trickling streams. Ours is the culture of Wikileaks, where the new expectation for leaders is that of course they all lie! The slow erosion of trust started with Watergate, was exacerbated by the Catholic Church's clergy abuse scandal, and cemented through more recent events such as doping in sports, Bill Clinton's infamous "it depends on what the definition of is is" explanation, and the now-regular release of troves of behind-the-scenes emails and other sensitive documents.

One of the most difficult tasks for Christians as we live in the world and seek to be witnesses to the kingdom of God is focusing on our main objective despite disorienting events around us. When we focus so intensely on the culture and the problems with it, we can become dizzy with the toxic fumes we're inhaling. That's why we have to have to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). To redefine the noted leadership scholar Ronald Heifetz, who called for leaders to know how to balance being on the dance floor and going to the balcony, we as Christians need to know how to be engaged with our world but also when we need to get away from the hubbub and be revived by personal time with Jesus.

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Give me your attention please

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Andrew Sullivan wrote a recent feature article for New York Magazine entitled "I Used to Be a Human Being." Since he was a pioneer of the blogging industry, people quickly clamored to retweet and share his article shortly after it was posted. They were interested to read how one of the progenitors of the industry would describe his struggle with internet overload.

If you aren't familiar with Sullivan, he began as a writer for various magazines and news outlets before moving to the blogosphere. At this point, the blogosphere was still in its nascent stages, and he quickly became one of its most important voices. All you need to know about him can be summed up in New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat's estimation that he might be the "most influential political writer of his generation." Douthat wrote a piece about him in 2013 entitled "The Influence of Andrew Sullivan" that helps elucidate his impact on a variety of our society's most prominent issues.

So when Sullivan penned this most recent piece, people were curious to see what he had to say. He retired from blogging just last year, a peculiar and exceptional act in and of itself, and had spent the intervening time unplugged and away from social media, the internet, and technology. His article traces the lines of his struggle in remarkable and candid ways. Here is one selection where he describes the stress he felt in the midst of being a distinguished and sought-after blogger:

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Why our world needs Incarnational Leadership

Credit: Creative Commons

Andrew Sullivan wrote a recent feature article for New York Magazine entitled "I Used to Be a Human Being." Since he was a pioneer of the blogging industry, people quickly clamored to retweet and share his article shortly after it was posted. They were interested to read how one of the progenitors of the industry would describe his struggle with internet overload.

If you aren't familiar with Sullivan, he began as a writer for various magazines and news outlets before moving to the blogosphere. At this point, the blogosphere was still in its nascent stages, and he quickly became one of its most important voices. All you need to know about him can be summed up in New York Times opinion columnist Ross Douthat's estimation that he might be the "most influential political writer of his generation." Douthat wrote a piece about him in 2013 entitled "The Influence of Andrew Sullivan" that helps elucidate his impact on a variety of our society's most prominent issues.

So when Sullivan penned this most recent piece, people were curious to see what he had to say. He retired from blogging just last year, a peculiar and exceptional act in and of itself, and had spent the intervening time unplugged and away from social media, the internet, and technology. His article traces the lines of his struggle in remarkable and candid ways. Here is one selection where he describes the stress he felt in the midst of being a distinguished and sought-after blogger:

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leadership in the wreckage

Credit: via Rob Cizek

It doesn’t take long in leadership to realize that most of our work takes place in the wreckage of life. We take on new ventures and exciting opportunities only to be confronted immediately with challenges, obstacles, and difficult choices. The sheen wears off quickly as the reality of the task sets in.

Samsung is dealing with the wreckage of a disastrous product flaw in its most advanced smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7. After riding a recent wave of success that saw it gaining traction against Apple’s popular iPhone line, Samsung launched the Note 7, dubbing it the most advanced smartphone on the market. When faulty batteries in the units began to explode while charging, however, all hopes Samsung had for the Note 7 disappeared.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the wreckage of illicit drug use in the American work force. Quest Diagnostics, one of the nation’s largest medical laboratories, released data that show “Detection of illicit drugs—from marijuana to heroin to methamphetamine—increased slightly both for the general workforce and the “safety-sensitive” workforce, which includes millions of truck drivers, pilots, ship captains, subway engineers, and other transportation workers.”

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Redefining Risk-Taking

Credit: Roy Luck via Flickr

A potentially game-changing discovery for the oil industry happened this week in west Texas. Apache Corporation, a large firm based out of Houston, has interests in five other countries, but their announcement this week of a new oil-field discovery is smack-dab right in the middle of one of America's most famous oil-boon areas: west Texas. The region has been famous for decades both for its high school football and its vast oil reserves, and the new field, dubbed "Alpine High," has the potential to produce anywhere from $8 to $80 billion in future revenue.

The site, spanning some 300,000+ acres, will take time to start producing the kind of results that Apache Corp. hopes will secure its future. Apache has limited infrastructure in the area, so they will have to invest heavily in equipment and personnel to begin extracting the oil. The oil industry is known for being one of the most volatile industries, and new discoveries are often hard to gauge for their future impact.

Apache has a fascinating backstory. Raymond Plank and W. Brooks Fields, Jr., World War II veterans from Yale, originally headed to Minnesota to start a new magazine that they hoped would be the Time or Atlantic Monthly of the Midwest. As they began their pursuit of this goal, however, they also set up a side-venture called APA that invested in various other business interests. The magazine never quite flowered into what they hoped it would be, because along the way they quickly realized that APA was where their real future lay.

Soon they started their first drilling operation in Cushing, Oklahoma, and have never looked back. In their 1964 Annual Report, Plank penned a statement that serves as a manifesto of sorts for how they saw themselves as a company: "The capacity of the individual is infinite. Limitations are largely of habit, convention, acceptance of things as they are, fear or lack of self confidence."

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