Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Leadership and the Covenants

There is a series of books by a man named C.S. Forester about a Navy man who begins at the bottom and works his way up. I just finished "Hornblower and the Hotspur" and was again impressed by the character and leadership of the man. He cares deeply about his duty, far over personal gain. He believes in mercy, and forgives a man at the risk of his own life. He is cunning, and on several occasions defeats a more powerful ship with creative tactics (the naval details of which were completely lost on me as I don't know the difference between a tops'l and a jib except that they were both important in one of his clever moves). He is extremely self disciplined and is terribly harsh on himself for even the slightest lapse in judgement. He demonstrates many of the qualities of a leader that I have learned myself through experience.

The one area that I disagree is that he allows his men to believe him perfect. He even encourages a higher view of himself in places than would be justified. Even though he does the opposite when it comes to the rest of the world, in downplaying his accomplishments, he wants his men to have complete confidence in him and so exaggerates his actions before them.

I think the key difference is in the type of leadership. He, and most military people, are in absolute power and must rule as such. The alternative style that I attempt to engage in is a more team-based leadership; I desperately want those under me to themselves lead. I want to guide and direct, but I want those who are closer to the ground to be thinking as hard as they can about decisions they can see more clearly than I could. This way, I have a whole team of brains, not just one central with a collection of fragments.

In my mind, these are the two types of leadership for two kinds of teams: he Partnership vs. the Platoon. In the first, nothing is sacred; everything can be questioned for the best approach. In the second, thinking is only encouraged within the bounds of the command. Both have their place. The Platoon style leadership is much more important for people not to question orders in military situations. There is really only one way to obey the order "Charge!"; having the men think about it will only get more of them killed. On the other hand, in an academic environment, free-exchange of ideas is a powerful way to make progress. Other places like business, both can be effective.

As I pursued these thoughts, it wasn't long before I made it to the Bible.

Bible Connection
So kings in the Old Testament clearly were of the Platoon-style leadership. Their subjects didn't think unless they were commanded to. The king was perfect and his command could not be questioned. This was a model for God as He related to the people in those days, as a master to slaves. God indulges this metaphor by His frequent refers to purchasing Israel from Egypt. People did not have to think about what was right or what to do; God gave them 613 specific things they had to do.

In the New Covenant, we have been adopted out of slavery and are now sons: Gal 4:7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. So then, it seems that God has transitioned leadership styles. Now that we are mature, He wants us to think about everything. We have principles now: Love God, love your neighbor, make disciples of all nations... etc. But how? That is left up to us.

Do we eat meat or abstain (1Cr 8:8)? Do we quote the Bible (Act 18:28) or do we translate the Gospel into the pagan vernacular (Act 17)? Do we preach or do we teach? What is God's will for my life? It's up to us. We no longer have the convenience of direct orders.

I The great command is what? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matt 22:37) Right? What about "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." (Deu 6:5)?

My speculation is this. The word for "heart" in the Hebrew ("lebab") is very vague and could also be interpreted mind. Perhaps Christ is re-interpreting or re-translating this in light of the New Covenant, with a greater focus on the Mind and on glorifying God with our thoughts and mental effort than there had been in the past, where strength or might was the focus.

I've started looking at the original texts in this, so it may simply be a translational issue (hence why this is speculative). However, it seems on the first glance at the LXX that Jesus does actually say something different even than what was said in Deuteronomy. The word "dianoa" (thoughts, mind, thinking) is not present in the LXX text (at least in the one hosted by, though may be a perfectly legitimate translation of the word "lebab."

No comments:

Post a Comment