Monday, October 09, 2006

The Invisible Grind

This summer, the US fielded a basketball team to compete against other countries in the World Championships. I pulled for Team World. Not out of political protest. Not out of disdain for overpayed, anti-team NBA athletes. Not because I just like to root for the underdog.

I pulled against America because Coach Krzyzewski coached the team.

For all of my non-North Carolina readers out there, Coach K coaches Duke University's basketball team, the arch-rival of my beloved UNC Tar Heels. I couldn't bring myself to pull for the US because, if they won, a large part of the credit would be bestowed upon the coach, K. The media would have lauded him for succeeding where others failed, for ingeniously being relational with NBA players, and for being the greatest coach of all time. For all my love of country, I just wouldn't have been able to stomach all of this K Love.

So it goes with leaders. At the front, getting lots of face time, being loud, making "great decisions," they usually stand to receive great praise for good things that happen. This is one of the reasons why I like leading. The spotlight gets shined on me, and I get all sorts of credit and lovin' when things go well.

Unfortunately, this is a faulty view of leadership, one that I prescribe to all too often. Leaders are foremost servants. In fact, leaders cannot lead if they do not serve. And the problem with servanthood is that it must be done beyond the eyes of an admiring mass. Far from being a loud, visible, glorious role, leading requires, above all else, invisible grind.

Jesus, arguably one of the greatest leaders of all time, corrects my worldly thinking that leadership places a person staunchly and consistently in the glorious spotlight. When the disciples (among whom were some proud, thunderous personalities) asked him who was to be considered the greatest, Jesus replied that it would be the one who rules like the one who serves.

Now this is not an argument for passivity. Being a leader requires courage, vision, loudness, assertiveness, and other active qualities usually associated with the term. But perhaps servanthood requires the most strength, the most action out of them all. The strength to pray when no one is looking. The strength to invest time without compensation - either in money or in compliments. The strength to serve when the desire just isn't there. Whether of a family, a church, a nation, or any other group, true leadership does not occur in the glorious glow but in the invisible grind.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

This is completely unrelated to this post, but you should read this...