Leading a Healthy Church Culture - Lesson 11

Machine vs. Garden

Machine vs. Garden

Rick Sessoms
Leading a Healthy Church Culture
Lesson 11
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Machine vs. Garden

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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
Machine vs. Garden
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] I think the point is that the role of the gardener, the role of the leader, if you will, is where we want to focus. And the role of the leader in a machine model is production is to is to oversee and ensure production. In the garden model, the role of the leader is cultivation. And production is God's work. Uh, you can't scream at a seed. Make it grow. You can't tighten down on a seed and cause it to flourish. There's a cultivation to use a more feminine term and nourishing a nerve, a nurturing that is, uh, is critical and a gardening motif that that's, that's so very important. And again, I've said this two times before, but, but it's not that these guys aren't concerned about the rice production. They're concerned that the rice that it produces rice, but it's about what they perceive their role to be in this and is to care for the rice. It's to care for the, the, the, the living, uh, entity, um, and to do everything they can to ensure its growth, but ultimately that it's God's responsibility to bring the produce to bring the the the result. You're looking at a verse of scripture there back in Genesis, we go right back to the beginning. He said, God formed the man from the dust, the ground and breathe in nostrils, breath of life, and a man became a living being. So we're talking about gardens and growing life in living beings. And he said, The Lord took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. The King James just attended. So that process of if the church is a garden. Our job is to work it and to take care.

[00:02:03] So if that's true, let's compare, uh, just a moment between the assumptions of a machine approach to leadership, how a machine approach tend tends to view the collective called the church, and how the garden approach tends to view the church or the collective, the machine. Now, this comes from a guy named James MacGregor, who taught the X theory and the Y theory of organizational life. And it's basically a way of seeing. And what were you? And using the word machine and garden as as mental matter, mental images or metaphors. But the first is that people don't like work and try to avoid it. That's the machine mentality, the approach and the garden people view work as a natural part of their lives. People are not motivated. A machine. A machine is not motivated. It constantly takes something from the outside to get it going. In the garden approach, people are internally motivated to reach objectives to which they're committed. Thirdly, people have to be coerced, threatened to get them to reach objectives. People will pursue common goals when they're encouraged. Fourthly, people avoid responsibility in the machine way of looking at things. People will seek and accept responsibility under favorable conditions. People lack energy to solve problems. People have the capacity to be innovative in solving problems. People are dependent on the intelligence of the leader. It's a big one. People are bright and will excel when trusted to do so. Why is this important? It again comes back to how we view people is what we tend to believe about them. And what we tend to believe about them is how we tend to treat them. That is the assumptions that yields to values, that yields to practice. And there's one other issue here.

[00:04:19] How we treat people is how they'll tend to act. So there's a self-fulfilling prophecy in this. If you treat people as a machine, they will tend to function as a machine. If you if you treat people as a garden in a garden motif, they will tend to function on the right side left. Now, these are a bit of, you know, force categories. There is a continuum, of course, between these. And I don't mean to say that if you treat everybody as a garden, they're going to excel there. You know, we we are fallen creatures and we we we do tend to lean toward the dynamic nature. But the reality is, is that as leaders, if we see people from that garden motif and view this as a living thing, that that is is made in the image of God, these these people that have been entrusted to us, then it deeply impacts what we believe about them and it impacts how we behave and how we function as leaders with them. What do you think about that? I'm interested in your thoughts. Just. You started. I see this. I think some of this philosophy is. Creeping back even into the business world. And, you know, my job. I mean, the CEO happens to be a Christian and but a big thing he talks a lot about is his meaningful work and and trying to eliminate meaningless work in people's lives or daily or their work days. And and so that because believing that, you know, given the proper conditions, you know, people will work hard and and their jobs are it's like they have some meaning to what they're doing. They don't need to be, you know, to crack down on those people. It's interesting that the secular world in sometimes in some ways is ahead of the of the Christian world.

[00:06:41] We've done some writing about Starbucks, for example, Starbucks leader Howard Schultz says we don't sell coffee, we sell a culture. And it's really about these kinds of issues that are important to him. I don't know whether he confesses to be a Christian. I have no idea. But some of his the way he works, quite frankly, looks more Christian than some of our churches. The guy that runs Zappos, I can't remember his name now, but, uh. But there's a deep humility in him. And he works with geniuses. But there's a there's a humility and and a just a a rising to a different level because of the way he treats the people within the company. Um, fascinating study. But so there are. There are entities out there like that that sometimes there are lessons for us. Um, now their motive often is different. But nonetheless, their way of going about doing what they do looks pretty good at times. Other thoughts. I was just thinking through in my mind and some of the different metaphors that Scripture uses for the church, because you're using this garden, which I think is very powerful when you think of it in that same way of the garden metaphor, like Jesus the Great on the vine or the branches. You know, I proved that mind and hindsight gods can make our time and we can't produce fruit unless we stay connected. And certainly part of that karma for the gym mentioned the body metaphor. Mm hmm. You know, the different parts of the body. Yeah. And then I think of the marriage metaphor of the church. Christ as the bride and every bridegroom and the church as the bride. And then the good Shepherd metaphor with Jesus being the good shepherd or the sheep and not another one who is, oh, the temple or living stones, Jesus, Livingstone's temple.

[00:09:03] And God dwells in and waiting stones and Christ or stone. Just so many metaphors. And they're all I call them all living things. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for that. That's very good. Very helpful. Sure. Number one is adoption to family and family. I think, to what they have to say about that example and why things turned out where they were about a sense of working together and unity and common goals were encouraged. And when they're made clear to, I guess, you know, you've been through this, that is the right purpose, the central purpose, the value. And that that's clear. There's not just this one leader going down this route without really clarifying what that goal is. I was looking to see if you had that on their sense of the clear goal. Yeah, well, communicate. So. I have. Basically submitted to you that the garden motif and the word garden is not that important. The fact that it's a living thing and the role of the gardener or the person responsible to lead in these context is is is cultivation or nurture and and God is responsible for the fruit or the production as opposed to the leader being responsible for production. And then the the people or whatever it is that get the job done, become cogs in the wheel. And those are two very, very different models. And the machine model did dominate so much of our thinking in both the secular world as well as the church in the latter part of the 20th century. And that is changing and is changing somewhat because there's a pressure on the church to think very differently, to think more organically about its role in the world. But there there are some issues that we still face along this line.

[00:11:36] Well, if this is the case and if this motif of garden is acceptable, then let's move up a notch. And once we've got this mental image in place, then what kind of beliefs and values core beliefs will arise out of that, That set of assumptions. And I want to submit two thoughts to you that may seem very simple on the surface, but I'd like for us to talk about these. One is that Jesus taught that effective leadership has more to do with learning to follow him than learning to command or supervise. And that doesn't mean that commanding and supervising is an important. It simply means that when we're following Christ, then we will tend to lead well, and there's lots of implications there. And then secondly, the effective leadership depends more on right attitudes than on mastery of certain skills. Let's talk about those two statements. Do you buy those two statements? What do you think? We talk. You mentioned the word posture, which is, I think, a real important word. For a leader. And I feel like, you know, usually you can detect a little bit about a leader. As far as their motivation, you know, this idea of being able to follow him not because of his ability to. Or mastery instead. Their posture. Just back towards their goal that they have because others. The sense of God being one that they're also. I am convinced that. You know, leading a successful organization, if it's if you're sort of lead if you're like you're if you're a leader in tried and true that you're like the smartest person in the room and like you're in control, then you're probably going to have a pretty lousy organization because you can. And the best the most successful people are the people who find a way to surround themselves with effective people and allowing them to do what they do best.

[00:14:05] And so that whole posture thing, if you're if you're just kind of keep the people that are staying in control of keeping everybody in line, then then they're not going to flourish as people and you're not going to see that what they're capable of. And so one of the biggest things is getting out of the way and and letting people run and see what they can do. And that and those are the people that have been successful leaders, I think. Well, nurturing them, too, right? Yeah. Giving them the skills they need. I'm thinking both of these statements reflect what we the the two vital sections that we started last week on. One is the one in Hebrews 13. The effective leadership has more to do with learning to follow him than learning to command. And they were talking in 37 about remember your leaders consider the outcome of the way of their life and imitate their faith of Jesus Christ. The same yesterday and today and forever. If a person, if you're a leader, is clearly founded and they're living that that faith. That's a whole lot better person to follow than someone that says, do what I do sort of thing. So I think that reflects it. The John 13 about washing the feed. The effect of leadership depends more on the right attitudes. Here's one who's a servant leader. That's the attitude, not the mastery of some skill. Wash your feet. Didn't take him to go to college for four years to learn how to wash your feet. Right. Took a humility before his God. That's excellent. Good synthesis. Well, I'd like to suggest that we do an exercise. Could we have from gym over this group and from Brant over this group for you? I like you guys to meet for about 6 minutes, and I'd like you to come up with with the answer to this question, and I'd like it to be three points.

[00:16:13] Just three points. How would the church in America be different? If our leaders truly embraced these two statements. How would the church in America be different? Good or bad? I mean, if if the issue is that we will be worse off than, say, that. But how would the church in America be different? If we as leaders, the leaders of the church, were to embrace. These two principles. Spend 6 minutes together and then see if you can agree on three bullet points. And I'd like to hear your bullet points when we're done. Okay. 6 minutes.


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