Summary: The New Normal is a reality, and we keep hearing about it often. How about leadership in the new Normal? What will it look like?
Biblical Imperatives for Leadership in the New Normal
After hearing the topic, some you might be thinking, what does leadership got to do with me? But before you switch off and start doing something else, give me a minute. Leadership as I use it never about position or title or designation. “Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less”, says leadership Guru John Maxwell, and I agree whole heartedly. This will become evident when you think hard about any leader, Good bad or ugly, it doesn’t matter, think about the whole spectrum from Mahatma Gandhi to Hitler, Osama Bin laden to Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela to Saddam Hussain, Donald Trump to Narendra Modi. You think about any leader, and ask the basic question, what do they do as leaders? The answer is evident. They influence the thoughts and actions of their followers. How they do it might be very different, (and that is the topic of today’s message). But the fact that Leadership is influence cannot be argued against. So if we first agree on that definition, all of us watching/ listening to this message are leaders. It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourselves a “mere house-wife”, or a student, or a teacher, or an individual contributor in your workplace. As long as you have an opportunity to influence someone, even one person around you, you are a leader. And hence this message applies to all of us irrespective of whether we hold a title or a position or even a job.
Hope that encourages you to stay on a little bit more.
New Normal is a term that we hear a lot these days. There are arguments and counter arguments as to whether the new normal has already come or are we still waiting for the new normal to settle in. Will church congregations be the same again? Will offices be the same ever again? Will the old normal ever return? Will we ever return to the hugs and handshakes and high fives and holding hands? We don’t have answers to those questions now. We don’t know when we will have any answers if at all. But one thing is for sure, the way we influence in the new normal will be and is different from how we influenced in the old normal.
My studies reveal four tenets of Leadership for the New Normal. What I will try and do is to establish the parallel Biblical Imperatives against those four tenets of leadership for the new Normal. Let us jump into it right away.
Tenet no 1 is about Power. As all of us are aware, Leadership and Power has always been married. Leadership has always been associated with power. However human history shows that Power has often been misused than used for the benefit of others. So that is the Tenet no 1 for the New normal. “The New Normal will transform the way power is used by Leaders”. The followers are not going to accept the Power Elite concept where power is concentrated in a few people. People will look for power to be used for “with them” rather than “over them”. Socialised power, power that is used for society’s benefit will be the ask as against individualized power where power is used for selfish motives. In corporates employees will start looking for higher purpose than just profit. Power that is used to generate profits at any cost will not be tolerated. The desire for goodness will increase as will the forces against greed. This is the corporate trend that we see for the New Normal.
So what about us Christians? The good news is that Bible has already warned us against the misuse of power. To understand this, let us look at God’s Leadership Sketch. In a way, Genesis 1:28 could be treated as the very first definition of the Leadership. If you read Genesis 1:28, you realize that the command is about subduing and have dominion over all living things on earth. This definition sounds incorrect and inappropriate in the current context. So did God make a mistake? We know the answer. This question might sound rhetorical. But to appreciate this command we must look at the timeline when this definition was given. You will quickly realise that this command was give before the fall. You see, before the fall, the understanding of “subdue and have dominion over” would have been very different from what we understand in the fallen world. So let us see what happened after the fall. After the fall, God understood the tendency of human beings to misuse the freedom and wisdom given by him and that is why the laws were given. Along with several laws that were given to mankind post-fall, there is a law given about leaders too. The first post-fall definition of leadership is seen in Deuteronomy 17: 14-20. Interestingly this definition is more about what the leader should not do, who the leader should not be etc. This was in a way the prediction of how the fallen leaders will misuse the “Subdue and have dominion over” command given in Genesis 1:28. And we see this further explained and highlighted in 1 Samuel Chapter 8, where the Israelites come and demand that they be given a King. And the reasons are simple. All other nations around them have kings and they felt embarrassed that they didn’t have a King in comparison. So Samuel gets angry, but the Lord tells him that He can give them a King if that is what they want. But the Lord asks Samuel to warn the people about what the king will do. The 8 verses from 1 Samuel 8:11-18 read like a contemporary leadership picture. Samuel effectively tells them that once they have a king , the king is going to take their money, their land, their livestock, their sons and daughters and use it for his own pleasure. But the people were adamant and insisted on having a King.