R. Scott Rodin’s latest is The Steward Leader: Transforming People, Organizations and Communities (Intervarsity, 2010). Already I know the book demands a careful, deep reading (or, more accurately, like Scripture itself, the book demands a deep reading of the reader!). I want to mention by way of quotation Rodin’s take on honesty and humility in leadership; these are suitable, pithy statements from his first chapter.
. . . when God uses any of us to lead effectively, it is nothing short of a miracle. When we place the complex and demanding role of a godly leader next to an honest self-awareness of our sinfulness and incompetence, we are thrown wholly on the grace of God and his faithfulness if we are ever to lead anyone anywhere. (20)
. . . great, godly leaders have always worked at that miraculous intersection where humility and faith meet the awesome presence and power of God’s Spirit–and the miracle of leadership happens. (21)
Lest anyone mistake his drift, godly leaders are first servants, always.
To read the Christian classics old or new is to wander eventually into the thought-realms of Augustine or Aquinas–that’s what happens regularly–and I suppose it was Merton, decades ago, with stronger doses of Lewis, that fed my appetite. Presently A. G. Sertillanges (The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods, trans. Mary Ryan from the French) is asking the hard questions and giving seasoned direction, though among others Aquinas stands invisible though perceptible with his hand on Sertillanges’ shoulder. What about my work, your work? Consider:
Everyone in life has his work; he must apply himself to it courageously and leave to others what Providence has reserved for others. We must keep from specialization as long as our aim is to become cultivated men, and, as far as concerns those to whom these pages are addressed, superior men; but we must specialize anew when we aim at being men with a function, and producing something useful. In other words, we must understand everything, but in order to succeed in doing some one thing. (120)
Sertillanges assumed the role of the liberal arts for general, foundational preparation, but he recognized the role for each person to work toward aptitudes, to excel in special vocation, and to so excel by a “probing of the depths” that all of knowledge and understanding is enhanced. (119-120)
This hews closely to life in community and in the church: one may not be all things to all the people, but one certainly may strive to be the epitome, the best, in serving out of giftedness. One’s singular service makes all the difference in the particular and in the whole.