Finding Leaders in a Celebrity Culture, pt 1

October 10, 2008 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

     We’ve come a long way, as a culture, with the idea that all men were created equal.  When Thomas Jefferson penned that phrase, it was beautiful language that unfortunately didn’t apply to the slave.  In the past several centuries, minorities and especially African-Americans have made great strides in this equal thing.  And yet, there remains a group of people who will never be at our level: Celebrities.

      We worship them, we abuse them, and sometimes we do both.  They are way beyond the sphere of the average American.  And this status can apply to political leaders, too – basically anyone in the spotlight, which they certainly are.  With the star-power being generated in this presidential campaign by Barack Obama (and, to a lesser degree, Sarah Palin), the lines between leadership and celebrity status are a bit blurred.  How do we go about finding true leaders in a culture that focuses only on how great they are at being celebrities?  I think it’s time to take a step back and figure out what a leader really is.  

      Leadership is not something to be taken lightly.  It holds great power and great ability to make mistakes; it’s a high-stakes game where the results don’t just affect the leader.

      The most important aspect of a real leader is one who is a servant.  I can think of no greater authority on this subject than Jesus, the ultimate servant leader.  He told his disciples, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.” 

      This should be a measuring stick for leaders regardless of their religions; they need to be servants and not lords.  A lord does not lead effectually; the only thing he does is bring disaster.  He will neutralize his effectiveness by being impressed with his own superiority.  A servant leader is one who can use his talents for the benefit of those around him, a man who is both strong and humble.  One definition of humility is “self-knowledge”.  They are realistic about their strengths and weaknesses, and know when they can’t do a job.  They’re not afraid to look stupid by seeking counsel. 

      A leader like this is more focused on the goal than himself.  To tie this back into the 2008 presidential race, an example of this would be years ago when McCain kept pushing for a surge in Iraq, which was an extremely unpopular stand.  “I’d rather lose the election [and his political career] than the war,” he said, which I think is honorable.  In this instance, he was more focused on serving the people than he was his own political gain. 

 part 2 coming tomorrow…

 

 

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Bits & Pieces Leaders in a Celebrity Culture, part 2

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