I consider myself a student of human interaction and psychology. This is not to be confused with a psychologist of sociologist, for I am neither of those. I also consider myself a student of modern media. I find it interesting how people both react and interact when there is a camera around. I also find it interesting that we as a society have since developed the ability to actually create a media empire unto ourselves. For example, the development and implementation of mobile devices with cameras, and the ability to instantly upload content to various media outlets has given rise to a society that has embraced voyeurism. We like to live our life vicariously through others, especially if they have some sort of celebrity attached to them, and if they are on TMZ and headed for a crash and/or burn, then we are even more interested (more on this in a moment). For some time now, the phrase celebrity has morphed into a character trait. Before you had to have a special skill to become a celebrity (premier athlete, actor, businessman, etc…). Celebrity actually meant you brought something of value to the table. Now, celebrity itself is on its own merit special, and no special skill is required.
Recently on “Meet the Press” the governor of Ohio lamented the fact that there was not leadership in the political discourse (specifically talking about the debt ceiling debacle debate). Which got me to thinking, could we even recognize leadership if it was presented given the current climate of media saturation?
What we are presented as leaders in the news, paper, and sometimes even the pulpit are on par with carnival barkers. Leadership in the mold of Jesus, as far as servant leadership is hard to come by, because of the fact that servant leadership isn’t controversial, sexy, nor does it make a good lead story. And if servant leadership does get any press, then it is one of the last stories on a Friday local news station sandwiched in between the weather and high school football scores. But if someone stands up during the State of the Union and says “You Lie”, or says that a certain caucus in a political party is a terrorist group, or is in anyway instigates any sort of controversy, then the 24 hour perpetual emotion machine that is cable news will dispatch Chopper 4 to circle their house. In other words, leadership doesn’t get press anymore, controversy does. Thus the “leaders” that are trotted out for us to follow are nothing more than the people that can throw the most fastballs at the supposed other side while still having the ability to sleep at night. In essence, we are forced to choose between two mercenaries who are nothing more than hired talking point gun slingers.
Here is the thing, I don’t have the answers on the leadership void in Washington, but I do know one thing, the leadership void in our communities starts with the local church. It starts with backing up our proclamation that “Jesus is Lord” with the actions of servant leadership that were taken by Jesus himself to those who were deemed unworthy or too calloused to be brought into the fold of the religious establishment. I think sometimes we focus on the proclamation through Sunday morning sermons and forget that Jesus spent just as much time serving as he did teaching and preaching, and by combining the two, His ministry saw success. By taking a hard look at the people we come into contact everyday (waiters, grocery store employees, cell phone company representatives, waiters, garbage truck workers, did I mention waiters?), and take a critical look on how we treat them, and decide whether or not our actions are indicative on how Christ would treat them. Furthermore, by taking a hard look at our community and seeing some of those needs, I think we will find that there are needs that need to be addressed that cover a myriad of different issues. Personally, I am of the mindset that if the church building is only being used for Sundays, Wednesdays, for weddings, and for funerals that this is a drastic misappropriation of resources, but that may be just me. It may be time that we start taking a look at the community around us to see if we can’t fill the leadership void and bring the church back from the brink of irrelevance. I guess, what I am blabbering about is that it may be time for leaders to begin leading in a way that Jesus did.