Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 3

Global Trends Affecting Leadership

Global trends affecting leadership

Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 3
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Global Trends Affecting Leadership

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This is a summary version of the Christ-Centered Leadership class in the Certificates section that includes a study guide and additional resources.

Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Global Trends Affecting Leadership
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:02] Well, we need the encouragement of Hebrews Chapter 13 and the memory of the leaders in our past, because leadership has become increasingly difficult in the 21st century due to several global trends that are unprecedented in modern history. These trends increasingly increase, particularly among youth and with urbanization and globalization. In other words, young people in Belarus tend to have more in common with young people in Baltimore than they do with folks in their own neighborhood in today's world. So these global trends are deeply impacting leadership and our capacity to lead, and it's making leadership a much more difficult, difficult challenge than it has been in the past. And the first the first global trend is what we refer to as rising cynicism. This rising cynicism is not just among young people, but everybody is growing more cynical. A barometer that reflects this current social attitude that is particularly apropos for this year is the bumper sticker that reads Don't vote. It will only encourage them. And I've seen I don't know if you've seen that people are pessimistic about the future and they're pessimistic about leaders in almost every aspect of life, whether it's business or, you know, education, the church, what have you. It it's difficult to lead when people have a high level of cynicism that exists today. The second the second global trend is shifting power. I've been told that there is more computing power in this little device than existed on Earth in 1950, and that that means that that that those with technology have more power today than those with titles. And so the old way of leading simply doesn't work. IBM once referred to their mainframes as masters and the terminals that sat on our desks as slaves. Some of you may not be old enough even to remember that kind of language.

[00:02:33] But in the computing world today, of course, the new relations ship is client server relationship. Power has gone to the people, it's gone to the clients, it's gone to the people with that access to information with with access to information at our fingertips. What does that mean? It means that power has shifted away from those in the corner office to those that have this computing power, that have this access to information, wherever they may be. Thomas Friedman wrote The World is Flat. He also wrote the Lexus and the Olive Tree, but in the world is flat. He contends that this power shift is responsible for the flattening of hierarchies and the movement of the center of gravity, from the powerful boss to the empowered people. Today, a younger person from the lower caste in India, we work in India, Tim and I a lot, and and a person from a lower caste in India can be connected literally to the whole world sitting there in their village. This shift is threatening India's caste system for the first time in in hundreds, if not thousands of years in today's client server world, yesterday's master slave, that power and authority motif just doesn't work anymore. And and to stand up in front of a group of people and say, I have authority because I am the boss is not even a relevant conversation in today's society. I remember several years ago I was asked to give a lecture. It was a three hour lectures seem like a marathon to a group of PhD students at Regent University on leadership development. I had done my research in the field of leadership development and they'd asked me to do this this lecture for the incoming PhD students. And so there were 75 students, incoming brand new students, and they were sitting in this huge lecture hall and it Regent University.

[00:04:32] These lecture halls are are the most modern thing you can imagine. You know, it's kind of this these theater seat type things with the with the long tables and they're all wired and all this stuff. And so they're they're all sitting there with their computers. Every single one of the 75 has his or her computer. And I start to talk and I'm I go on for about an hour and a half, and there's this one young man. He's sitting down in the front row about three people in and I notice him over here. He never looks up. He never looks at me the entire hour and a half. He's just staring at his computer screen. Well, I have no idea what he's doing, but I just keep on going. And and and so we kind of the break time and it break time, he makes a beeline to me. And and he introduces himself. He actually was a 27 year old guy that inherited millions of dollars. And he's now running a foundation. And why he's taking this doctoral program, I really don't know. But he was taking the doctoral program. And as we he introduced himself and I started to tell him a little bit about me and he stopped me. He says, oh, he says, Already know all about you. I said, How do you know all about me? I had not really told them much about me. He said, I've been Googling you for the last hour and a half and and not only have been Googling you, but I've been Googling every reference that you mentioned. When when when you shared something from a book or or from some quote, I looked it up and he said, you know, you're legit.

[00:06:07] And, you know, I breathed a sigh of relief. But those kinds of examples give us the the it's a reality check in our lives that we live in a world where those with computing power really hold a different sort of sway. And so in in today's world, that power and authority motif simply isn't isn't effective. And so there has to be a different way to to lead in today's world. The the final global trend that I want to mention there probably more but is is is changing contracts. Permanent jobs are becoming scarcer while the temporary workforce is on the rise. More people are self-employed than they were 25 years ago. Many not by their own choice Project teams are formed to provide a service. And when the project is over in a year or two year or two, the team is disbanded and the person is looking for a job. Again, this spurs the organization's loyalty to people, and people's loyalty to the organization is becoming a relic of the past. And the new contract promises employment only in exchange for a commitment to excellence. There is a little cartoon that that is is kind of cute, but it's sad as well. These are our motivational posters. They are resumes of people who can replace us. It's no surprise that in such a climate, employers are hiring themselves out to the highest bidder. I was working in a for a I was consulting with a Christian organization recently, and this is an older organization and some of the people have been in the organization for 35 or more years and they've been missionaries in this organization. And and as they began to share with me when when they first came into the organization 35 years ago, they were simply asked the question, are you called and committed to this ministry for life? And they actually had to sign and sign a statement that they were committed and called to this organization and this Ministry for Life.

[00:08:15] And and but over the last 5 to 10 years, the organization has shifted and they said, we're no longer committed to you. If you don't keep up your skills, you're going to be out of a job. So the the the the the land underneath the employees has radically shifted. And so employees commitment shifts as well. People sense no loyalty from the organization. And so they're hiring themselves out. IBM, a number of years ago moved from what they call lifetime employment to now lifetime employability. That's a huge shift in the thinking. And so it's difficult to inspire commitment in that kind of a world. What do you think about these trends? Have you seen these trends? How do you react to those? What do you think about about these three rising cynicism, shifting power and changing contract? Have you experienced those yourself? Have you seen that in the emerging generations? What are you seeing? What do you think? I'm really interested in your input, your feedback. I've mentioned rising cynicism. Do you sense a rising cynicism in our world? I would certainly say rising distrust, which is part of cynicism. And any time you can go global with the thought, a picture, an image which the computers allow us to do, the Internet allows us to do. You have a whole sense of power and that with that power comes a distrust, I think. And so there is a rising distrust, which I would have to say would be a part of cynicism. Now, you had we come over the centuries from the haves and the have nots to a whole different definition of the haves and the have nots and the haves. How you get to have to be a have from my have not.

[00:10:33] Is is a less clean. I mean, you didn't used to be able to do that. Now you can't. So I mean there's a whole lot of dynamics that I think would feed to a cynicism, But I don't know if hopelessness is just way far away from cynicism. But certainly with the third world terrorist countries now, the hopeless nurse and the behavior that leads to that, I mean, that's I guess that really is rising for us in the United States. Who. Our poverty and hardships is nothing compared to. Environment that has led to the hopeless attitudes of these Palestinians and Middle Easterners. I think part of the rising cynicism, at least in my way of thinking, is due to the access to information. Back when John Kennedy was president, he was a rascal and in some of his doings. But the the press and the media were not on top of it. And even going back to FDR, Franklin Roosevelt, we know about his charades as well. But the press and the media and the access to information wasn't nearly what it was. And so we we held these leaders in much higher esteem. Whereas today, the access to information that we have through the media and through the Internet and so forth brings these these people in the living color in our in our family rooms each night. And so there isn't much at least we don't perceive that there's much secret anymore. And so it's brought them down to size. So we've we've sort of it done it to ourselves. We've we've we've made caricatures out of our leaders because of the access to information. So I think those two can play hand in hand perhaps. Other comments. I see somebody over here want to say something? Well, I just can say that I'm probably part of the Sydney generation just in terms of or the sitting problem or whatever, just because it I mean, people my age and younger grew up where every Christian leader that I mean, not everything, it's obviously not every Christian leader, but you could at least say five or you keep counting that would profess one thing but then do something very contrary.

[00:13:11] And so it makes you think what is real and not fall into that. And it sort of breeds a cynicism in our culture, I think is super cynical about people who want to aspire to a Christ. And I think we've kind of confused it some where we are saying we are the good people, we feel like us and we're not pointing to Christ in that. And so for so many generations they see that in what is then portrayed as the Christian culture or whatever is being very false. And I think that that just in terms of that cynicism, that wonderful that the word that you pick for the person who believe in you was authentic. Yeah. Yeah, that is. Well, thank you for the input. I'm sure that there are other trends that are going on, but these trends make it make it very important for us to reassess what is leadership all about. And I want to submit to you that as we talk about Christ centered leadership, I believe that Christ in our leadership effectively deals with all three of these issues in a very powerful way. And we'll get to that. We're going to I'm going to ask you to take a look at a little survey and and just ask yourself some questions. This is just for you. Nobody else is going to be. Looking with you at the answers. So please be honest. And when you're finished, those will take a little break. But when you are done with those and I just suggest that you'd you'd stick those somewhere because we'll refer to the you know what you how you reflect on those questions a little bit later in the course. But this is just to get us started.

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