Gospel Remedy: Dealing With The Outcomes Of Leadership

By Felipe Assis | President of City to City Miami   

  One would wish that the only outcome of their leadership would be success, the success of their team and of their strategies. However, unfortunately, failure is also a realistic outcome to leadership because not only are we imperfect leaders but there are many factors that are always beyond our control. Sometimes you cultivate a healthy culture and do all the right things and you still don’t get the outcome you’ve expected. I’m sure you can think of many examples of what I’m talking about.

  How one deals with success and failure determines the long-term health of their leadership outcomes. Here I would like to suggest that the gospel is the best approach to handle the outcomes of leadership.

  Dealing with success. Many leaders have short-ended their successful trajectories because they have allowed success to go to their heads. Once success comes, they are tempted to believe the lie that they were the single factor responsible for the positive outcome. The gospel deals with success appropriately because it always reminds the successful that all is grace. Yes, there may be gifts and talents, and yes there may have been hard work and good decision-making but ultimately, as James points out: “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” There are people in the world that may have worked just as hard, have made all the right decisions, and have not been successful because they could not control where they were born, when they were born, the family they were born into or, the gender they were born with. The gospel of grace humbles those that are tempted to be prideful.

  Dealing with failure. The experience of failure can often be a paralyzing one. Many leaders have never recovered from failure because they have failed to apply the gospel to their experiences of failure. The gospel doesn’t minimize failure, especially if it’s one’s responsibility, nor hides it. The gospel says to the leader that has failed that it’s okay to mourn and to lament, even to repent. However, because one’s identity rests in what God thinks of them because of what Jesus has accomplished for them, they are no longer hostages of their performance and the opinions of others. They are defined neither by success nor failure. As a result, they are able to learn from their experiences and to recover faster from failure. 

  As Tim Keller says: “Leaders need the gospel because unless you have the gospel, success goes to your head and failure to your heart.”

  How have you dealt in the past with the outcomes of leadership?

The Byproduct of a Gospel-Centered Leadership Culture

By Felipe Assis | President of City to City Miami  

  If we continue to use the idea that culture is like soil, the gospel-centered culture that is informed by grace will promote healthy growth and good fruit, while any other culture that is informed by power will inevitably produce unhealthy growth and bad fruit. 

  Paul once wrote to the Galatian church (now Turkey) with the intent to preserve a gospel-centered culture amongst them. The Galatian Christians had once flourished under a healthy gospel soil but that was no longer the case. The soil had now been corrupted by bad gardeners that were not informed by grace but by power (Galatians 3:1).  As a result, the bad fruit had sprouted and its bitterness could now be tasted by all. In Galatians 5, Paul lists several characteristics of this bad fruit. Among the characteristics are things like enmity, envy, strife, anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and a number of addictions (Gal 5:20-21).

  Leadership cultures that are not informed by the gospel generate this type of bad fruit. So many of you have unfortunately tasted over and over the bitterness of such fruit in your organization. A place where people compete against one another, where they are only looking after their own good, where conflicts are constantly mishandled, where there's little tolerance for mistakes made, where there’s no transparency, and where people’s lives, as a result, are falling apart because of all the stress, anxiety, and overwork.

  In contrast to the bad fruit that a culture devoid of grace produces, the gospel-centered leadership culture, which is informed by grace, produces good fruit. Some of the characteristics of this fruit are; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (loyalty), gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)

  A leadership culture that is informed by grace helps people to become better at what they do because they have the support they need from the rest of the team to reach their maximum potential. Everyone involved is seeking to serve the team versus trying to get ahead of the rest of the team. Team members are using the resources they possess for the sake of others instead of using other people’s resources for their own sakes. 

  What is more visible within your team? The characteristics of the bad fruit or of the good fruit? Can you track these markers back to the operating principle of your organization? In my next post, I will talk about practical ways to start cultivating a gospel leadership culture in your organization.

Next post available on 2.14.2017: "Gospel Remedy: Dealing with the Outcomes of LeadershipBy Felipe Assis

What sets a Gospel-Centered Leadership Culture apart from all other leadership cultures?

By Felipe Assis | President of City to City Miami  

  Just as every computer has an operating system, every culture has an operating principle. And when it come to cultural operating principles, there are only two options. One is informed by power, the other one by grace. The gospel-centered leadership culture is informed by grace while all other cultures are informed by power. 

  The latter part was Michel Foucault’s theory, a theory he learned from Frederich Nietzsche.  The French Postmodern philosopher believed that all leadership cultures flowed from an innate desire present in all hearts (and consequently in all institutions) to exercise power over others. Foucalt wrote…

“The strategic adversary is fascism... the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us.”

  There’s an interesting case study about this in the Gospel of Mark. In Mark 10:35-45 Jesus finds his disciples contending for power. They inquired, “who should be at the places of honor once Jesus establishes his kingdom on Earth?” Disgusted by the operating principle of that discussion, Jesus kindly rebukes them: 

“You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around,” he said, “and when people get a little power how quickly it 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. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage.” (MSG)

  In other words, what Jesus is trying to explain to the disciples is that there is a stark contrast between his leadership culture, which was the culture he had come to establish, and the other cultures present in the world. His culture’s central operating principle was grace. He was the Son of Man and it was not required that he serve, but he had voluntarily taken upon himself the posture not of a lord but of a servant. That’s grace.

  In Jesus’ universe the central operating principle is love. In fact, before there was any thing, before power was manifested in the work of creation, there was love. The Father has always existed with the Son and the Spirit in a community where its culture is informed by love.

  The disciples were trying to bring the world’s culture into The Kingdom and Jesus warns them, “it’s not going to be that way with you.”

  Is it “that way” with you? Is it “that way” with your organization? What has informed your culture? Grace or power?

  In my next post, I will discuss what each cultural operating principle produces. These can be taken as visible markers to help you diagnose the central operating principle of your leadership culture.