Dean Kuest – Glendale Campus Pastor
You are a Leader!
Leadership is influence and somebody is watching you and taking their cues from you. That somebody may be at work, your kids at home, someone at church, or a friend, family member or neighbor. If nothing else, we are all leading ourselves. It is impossible for me to know you personally from across the blogosphere, but I know this…you are a leader! The question for all of us is, “Are we becoming better leaders?” That is why I hope that you were one of over two thousand people who attend the Leadership Summit at one of our campuses this past week.
A conviction that God is stirring in my heart through my time at the Summit is that there are far too many people, Christians included, who see others only in the light of a means to help accomplish their end. Those that are assist their agenda and are helpful to their goals and purposes are acknowledged and those who are not helpful are ignored or treated as an annoyance.
It was the religious leaders of Jesus’ time who stood as the model for this negative aspect of leadership so well. It was the priest and teacher of the law who walked on the other side of the road when they encountered a man beaten and left for dead (Luke 10:25-37). It was the Pharisee who prayed in the temple, thanking God that he was not like this pathetic sinner next to him (Luke 18:9-14). It was the leaders who brought a woman caught in adultery, asking Jesus to put her on trial, not caring about the shame they heaped upon her and all the while ignoring the responsibility of the man caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Over and over again, the religious leaders used people to leverage their ideas and purposes, not caring about how it affected those people.
Jesus; however, lifted up the example of the Good Samaritan (the guy who had “religion” all wrong) as the one who pleased God. Why? Because he understood that how you treat a person; any person, is a reflection of your belief in God. Jesus honored the sinner praying in the temple who, in his shame, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, saying that it was this man’s prayers that God heard rather than those of the pious Pharisee. Jesus saw a woman with hurts and fears being used, used as a trap to accomplish the purposes of religious bigots. Jesus saw people as having inherent value simply because they were children of His Father. His leadership was about the benefit of those around Him, not pursuing His own benefit.
These examples we find in Scripture are BIG! All of us denounce them as horrific and something that none of us would ever take part in. But let’s break it down to its least common denominator. Do we see the people around us? Do we look them in the eye? Do we recognize their story, their hurts, their struggles? Do we dismiss people so that we can get our job done and get on with the day?
My sixteen year old son, who attended the Leadership Summit with me, was captured by a story told by Horst Schulze, the founding President and former COO of Carton-Ritz Hotel Group. He specializes in raising the bar of customer service but warned each leader at the Summit not to focus only on delivering a perfect product, but on recognizing the worth and value of every person that you serve.
He shared about a time that he walked into a bank simply to make change of a $50 bill. He waited in the maze whose exit leads you to the desk of the tellers. “NEXT” was his first greeting as his turn came to be served. As he walked up to the teller, she was looking down at the paperwork from her previous customer and without even glancing up said, “Yes?” Aware that she was now waiting for him to make his needs known, he handed her the $50 dollar bill and asked for change, with $10 in coins. Again, not looking up, she counted out the bills and the change and before he could even gather it into his wallet, the shout rang out, “NEXT!”
Horst shared that he had received a perfect product. He got exactly what he wanted…and yet, that was not the experience that he remembered in his trip to the bank. He remembered that he felt like the bank teller ignored him. In fact, he walked away feeling like she hated him. I’m sure that was not the teller’s intention, but it is the difference between “seeing” someone and simply passing over people to get to the next item on our agenda.
Replay that bank scenario now with a teller that desires to see each person she serves as having the distinct value of being a Child of God. How would that have changed that story? How would it change the story of the people that you interact with this week if you looked into their eyes, saw their humanity and treated them as Jesus would treat them?
No matter who you are…you are a leader and you leadership has the ability to communicate value to people who don’t even understand that value themselves!