Thursday, January 27, 2011

Missing In Action

I was listening to CKNW this morning.  Joy McPhail was the guest.  Ms. McPhail is a former cabinet minister and leader of the NDP.  She was announcing her support of Adrian Dix for the position of leader of the NDP.   I've met Mr. Dix.  I think he's a good and decent man. 

During the call in portion of the program, a caller raised some concerns that he has about decisions Mr. Dix has made in the past.  He felt that those decisions were a reflection of Mr. Dix's character.  In attempting to come to his support, Ms. McPhail's response to the caller went something like this:  'Your standards are too high.  You need to relax.  If you insist on having people of impeccable character to lead you won't find anyone to serve.'

It's hard for me to define which part of her response was more disconcerting.  Her response was so adamant and shocking to me that I pulled over to make sure I was really hearing what I thought she was saying.

I passionately disagree with Ms. McPhail.  I think most British Columbians would as well. 

I believe that our province should only be led by people of impeccable character. I don't think it's an unreasonable or unrealistic expectation.  The irony of her statement is profound to me.  The Legislature is built around the premise of honourable men and women doing honourable work.  I realize that the public perception of politicians and politics is quite different, but if those who lead us are anything less than men and women of character, the future of our province is in serious jeopardy.  We deserve better than the substandard quality of leader that she is suggesting we should embrace.

Character might be missing in action in Ms. McPhail's world but I believe it is alive and well in the hearts of many British Columbians who are committed to living at a higher and more excellent standard. 

God, give us leaders of impeccable character who will cause our province to prosper!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Leadership Essentials - Part 3 - Humility

Knowing that I needed to write this article as soon as my hair appointment was done, I asked my stylist what she thought was the most important quality that a political leader should have.  She responded that the most important quality of a  leader is the ability to say they were wrong.  I think her insight is impressive.

I spend enough time at the Legislature to know that the statement 'I was wrong' or 'We made a mistake' isn't commonly heard.  That's not to say it never happens, but it probably doesn't happen often enough.  Before I go further, let me say that I believe that there's a difference between an unpopular decision and an error.  The most dangerous politician is the one who always seeks to make the popular decision.  Leadership isn't about being popular, but unpopular decisions need to be made and presented with humility as well.

In the political realm, the admission of error can be extremely hazardous to your political health.  In some cases it can cost you your job but for the most part, it's really just a matter of pride and ego.  The irony is that in most cases everyone knows a poor decision has been made but the leader carries on as though nothing happened.  The need to be right for the sake of politics and optics too often outweighs the value of  humility and the admission of error.  In the process, the leader loses the respect of those he leads and consequently loses the moral authority to lead.

The prophet Micah spoke about what God seeks in the life of the leader. Simply put, it is to walk humbly, do justly and love mercy. Humility is a stablizing force in the life of a leader.  The humble leader is ever aware that in spite of his or her best efforts, they may still make the wrong decision in the situation.  In my mind, the value of a sincere, 'I was wrong' and I'd like to hear from you about what might work instead  would do wonders to restore credibility and confidence in politicians and our political system that anything else. 

A leader who walks in pride will ultimately bring destruction on the very thing he/she is seeking to build.  A humble leader will find a way through the difficulty through interaction, consensus building, an open door and a flat pyramid.

God, give us humble leaders, who will lead us forward into all of the goodness you have prepared for us in our great province.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Leadership Essentials - Part 2 - Justice

Today is Martin Luther King Day.  America stops  to remember and honour the life of a man who successfully shifted the social and moral conscience of a nation through the power of his leadership, courage and speaking ability.  King was motivated by the conviction that all men are created equal and should be treated with dignity, respect and honour.  He was committed to obtaining justice for his people in a culture that accepted discrimination and segregation as a fact of life.  While King didn't live to see the fulfillment of his dream, his dream came to pass because of his unswerving pursuit of justice.

The prophet Micah lived 750 years before Christ. In his day the leaders of his nation made a practice of exploiting and manipulating the people for their own purposes and profit.  In working towards finding justice for his people in his day, Micah defined a timeless leadership essential when he wrote these words:

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"  Micah 4:6 (NKJV)

We live in a different day than Micah or even Martin Luther King, but the need for leaders who are committed to 'doing justly' is just as desperate because injustice is as rampant as ever.  In Micah's day, it was the population in general, in MLK's day, it was the blacks.  In our nation,  injustice is experienced by First Nations people, the poor, the weak, the widow and the orphan.  For the most part, they are people without the ability to influence or shape public policy that can effectively address their needs and concerns.  Those who lead our province and nation, must be committed to ensuring justice for those who are so often on the outside looking in.  This is not an easy task nor is it work that is ever completely accomplished, but it must be done. 

God, give us leaders who are committed to ensuring that the least of those who live in our province, nation and cities are treated justly, fairly and with respect.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And God Said...

Someone asked me this morning how things are going in the political realm.  My usual answer involves a careful, non-partisan response that hopefully satisfies their curiosity.  This morning was different... I paused for a second and said 'and the earth was without form and void'. (Gen 1:2)

It's a strange time in BC politics.  Three parties are looking for leaders. (LIB's, NDP, BC CONSERVATIVES), there are at least 2 recall initiatives underway.  One is approaching what is being reported to be a likely unsuccessful outcome.  The other began last night in Kamloops with promises of remaking democracy. Promises, promises, promises....

There were two interesting news moments today.  The first was that BC is expected to do better than expected in terms of economic growth in 2011.  That's good news.  Immediately following that story, I heard an MLA on the radio who was doing his best to make it sound like the sky is falling over BC.  (It's not...)Suggested reading for the member in question:  'The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf''.  (Just putting it out there....)

I love the fact that when we don't know what the future holds, the God who said 'let there be light' into the darkness and 'let there be order' into the chaos is still RULER and LORD over all.  While the resignation of two leaders within weeks took us by surprise, He knew that it was going to happen and He knows who will replace them.  It's going to be a lot of fun watching Him work it out, even in the lives of those who don't acknowledge Him. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Leadership Essentials - Integrity

When most of us hear the word 'Integrity',  we think of adherence to a moral code and ethical principles.  We expect (and for good reason...) that those who lead will be people whose integrity is impeccable.  Simply put, it's not in our best interest at any level to be led by someone who can't be trusted to hold to their stated morals and ethics.  In this context, we need leaders whose 'yes' means yes and whose no means 'no'.

Integrity has a much broader meaning.  In it's purest sense, it's a technical term that speaks of wholeness, soundness and stability.  You don't want to cross a bridge or live in a house that lacks structural integrity.  At some point there will be a catastrophic failure and the impact will be significant.  Effective leadership requires more than idealism and passion.  Leading at a high level is a demanding and unforgiving task.  It's not unlike running a marathon that never ends.  This underscores the importance of integrity in the life of the leader because without it, the leader will inevitably and needlessly fail.  Soundness, wholeness and stability are key components in the life of any leader.

Jesus told a story about two men building two houses.  The first man built his house on sand.  It was completed quickly and looked great until it encountered it's first major storm.  Then it collapsed with a loud crash.  The second man started out by digging out a foundation.  One translation says he dug down deep into the rock.  His house went up slower but when the rain and winds came, the house stood strong.  Jesus was making a point about integrity and the need for a solid foundation.  He said that the man who builds his life on the solid bedrock of His words and teaching is like the wise man who builds his house on a rock. The strength of the foundation gives integrity (strength and wholeness)  to the entire structure and enables it to  withstand the stress and pressures of both life and leadership.

We need leaders (and in the context of this post a leader) whose life is firmly rooted in the words and teaching of Jesus.  It's not a leadership panacea by any means but it's a crucial piece of what's necessary to lead well.  Be a leader with integrity.  Build your life is built on the unchanging and unfailing words of the eternal Jesus.  Those who follow you will be blessed and you will have the strength to stand in the midst of the storm.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Leadership Essentials

It's an interesting time in BC politics.  For the first time in a very long time, both the NDP and the Liberals are seeking new leaders at the same time. The BC Conservatives aren't looking for a leader yet, but they will be shortly. This situation may never happen again and presents a unique opportunity for me. 

I don't usually write about leadership issues on this blog because I don't want to be seen as either endorsing or criticizing a particular leader, party or policy.  However, since both sides of the house are currently seeking new leaders it presents a unique opportunity to address an area that is crucial for the future of our province.

There's no shortage of promises, policies, vision and ideology as to what might make our province a better place to live, work and raise a family.  While those things are certainly important, they are secondary to the fundamental issue of leadership essentials. Leadership is far more than charisma, vision and the ability to build and keep a team together.  Leaders need foundations in their lives upon which their leadership is built and based.

Starting on Jan 10, I'm going to be publishing a weekly article on 'Leadership Essentials' that will conclude on Feb 21.  After that time, we will return to 'regular broadcasting'.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

And So We Begin....

Happy New Year!  Every new year begins with a sense of hope, promise and opportunity.  I've spent part of the last week setting goals, making plans and preparing for 2011.  The New Year is waiting to be mined, farmed, and tapped for all of the fullness, goodness and blessing that God has put into it. My prayer for you is that you will reap what God has prepared for you in 2011 in ALL of it's fullness and abundance.

Have a blessed 2011!!