Thursday, October 25, 2007

Leaders As Losers

Nothing like a catchy title to grab one’s attention. Dr. Ian Payne’s topic at chapel was entitled, “Leaders That Look Like Losers.” He then proceeded to show us several sections of the Bangalore Times and the frequency of photos of Shah Rukh Khan. Sometimes called "King Khan," SRK is the hottest film star in Bollywood. In today’s paper SRK is pictured in an expensive suit, casual wear and even shirtless to show off his six-pack abs for his latest movie. SRK is the image of success, cool, the example of what every man should be and every woman desires. And so it is with today’s image of success. Silk ties, sleek body, cool cars and flashy accessories are the symbolic indicators of one who is ahead of the pack. Winners are leaders.

Losers are, well, losers. Losers are those who go to the seminars of winners, buy the books written by leaders and try the best they can to look like success, even if they are not. The reason diet, leadership, investment, management and success books sell well is because of the vast population of losers wanting to be winners. To be a winner one must feel, act, imitate and smell like it. Leadership is having followers and if you don’t have anyone following you then you’re not leading, you’re just taking a walk…or at least that’s what we are told.

And then along comes someone like Micaiah who spent most of his life in prison. He could have been known as a leader; after all, he often spoke before the King (Ahab). His peers certainly tapped into the keys to success and they were paid high dollar for their consulting work. But Micaiah just couldn’t quite turn the corner of success and his lodging was always a cell instead of a suite.

And what shall we say about a cobbler named Carey, an obscure vinedresser named Amos, a army chaplain known as Chambers or, a jungle pilot with a name of Saint?
By any standard they none of these guys were seen, while alive, as winners. (William) Carey’s wife went mad, Amos was a dirt farmer, (Oswald) Chambers died of appendicitis in North Africa and (Nate) Saint was speared to death on a sand dune in jungles of Ecuador.

While no one is suggesting that being lazy, unkept, unfit, inefficient is a model to follow; it’s worth mentioning, again, that the essence of a winner in this world seldom follows God’s definition of a leader. The televangelist with his white suit and shiny buttons; the multiplex compound of the mega-church with a jumbo screen to make sure every member is up close and personal to those on stage; the worldwide ministry that spans the globe in thirty different languages may have their place in the Kingdom, or it may be an allusion of success.

Two thousand years ago no doubt the crowd on a barren hill just shook their heads and thought, “What a loser.” His following scattered, their expectations of what He would accomplish was shattered that day they crucified Him on a cross. But they got it wrong two millenniums ago and people are still getting it wrong today. Sometimes the best leaders look like losers.