When working with my brother Dr. Rev. on his book Canoeing the Mountains, we talked a lot about its focus. I lobbied that he expand the leadership message for a broader audience. Leaders across sectors need to hear this core idea about the necessity of adaptability in leadership.
But, Tod kept his target market in mind: leaders in the Christian church. He also stayed true to his authentic passion. The latter part of his exceptional career is focused on trying to help pastors struggling to adapt to post-Christian society. He knew the importance of helping those who dedicate their lives to a spiritual calling needed to find new ways to engage the changing spiritual landscape.
Tod was right. His book topped #1 on Amazon’s chart for Christian leadership–nudging aside Pope Francis– and thrives in large part because of that focus he insisted on. He thought first of people, not sales, and his book is the better for it.
And his message for leaders? Change. Without it, you can’t lead. He uses the story of Lewis and Clark’s expedition to capture perfectly this compelling idea. He tells is better than I ever could, so take a listen:
Imagine if our political leadership could admit they are trying to canoe over mountains? Imagine if they would adapt to the sweeping change in the 21st-century economy and give up old party divisions and broken political methods that have handicapped our country? Image if the ability to be humble, to learn, to adapt and to learn new skills were prized, not mocked?
Maybe we’d be watching presidential debates with serious leaders talking in civil tones instead of the reality TV spectrum of buffoonery we see replayed each new debate now.
We need leadership more than ever, but capable leaders, humble leaders, yes, adaptable leaders. We don’t need more hubris. We don’t need more hate. There is nothing courageous about the xenophobic, divisive mockery of leadership that seems “popular” today.
So even now, knowing my brother was right to keep his book targeted and focused on “Christian” leadership instead of leadership, in general, I still wish he hadn’t. I wish leaders everywhere would consider this message of change. More importantly, I wish we would all demand this from our leaders and reward those who proven themselves capable. Far too often today leadership seems capable only of stirring up ratings to amuse the audiences watching and building on hatreds and divisions that could soon leave us in the mountains with no clue how to cross them.
Take action: This holiday season, I’d love it if you could offer some support for genuine leadership advocated by a leader I respect, my brother, Rev. Dr. Tod E. Bolsinger of Fuller Seminary. Supporting authors