"As I mused, the fire burned"

Reflection on life as a person of faith.

What is your choice? Life or death?

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My brother priest preached a startling sermon today out of James 4:1-12, contrasting the world’s way of death with Christ’s way of life. He didn’t utter those words, but that was my abstraction that came through clearly in his preaching.

I’ve been reflecting in this direction since starting my preparation to preach on remembrance Sunday last week.  Today’s sermon served to highlight that direction even further, and left me with a realization: every choice we make in life, large or small, significant or middling, ultimately comes back to one fundamental dichotomy…are we choosing a path of life, or a path of death?

Heavy on my heart these past weeks have been some leadership challenges, and those too come back to that same question.  I generally operate in the realm of participatory, democratic leadership, because I mostly work with highly trained professionals.  That leadership style generally works very well.  However, if you have someone who constantly makes choices that move to death rather than life, that approach needs to be shifted quickly into something more directive.

Those sorts of choices seem far less significant that I’m making them out to be, but it is amazing how disproportionate the impact of those insignificant things can be in the midst of a community.  One person who consistently chooses death over life, can reduce an otherwise high-functioning place into a sea of distrust and frustration.

What sort of choices am I speaking of?  Well, every minute of every day a leader is called to make value judgments about things that they encounter.  How you present those value judgments back to the external world is where you have to think about choosing life or death.  So, someone asks a question in a meeting that you think improper — do you choose life (by redirecting the conversation in the meeting to a different direction and then following up with the person later) or do you choose death (by openly chastising them in the meeting)?

You can recognize these two types of leaders easily by the way they treat their followers, their peers and their bosses.  The ones that choose life take adversity with a positive response…sure this is not what I wanted, but how can I use this moment to build up by followers, my peers and my bosses.  The ones that choose death instead turn inwards and ask, why are these negative things happening to me?  Why are all these people against me?

The ones that choose life use mistakes by those around them as an opportunity to learn and grow even, and particularly when, those mistakes are committed by bosses.  A leader choosing life means accepting responsibility for things that you have no control over, because that responsibility allows you to re-characterize the adverse situation into one that benefits everyone.  A leader choosing death instead externalizes the mistake, disavows any involvement, and seeks to blame others (“I’ve told him about this many times and he keeps doing it!”  Maybe it’s time to stop telling, and to start building relationship).

This applies in all aspects of our lives, as ultimately each choice we make is either a choice to bring life, or to bring death.


Written by sameo416

November 15, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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