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Love One Another

It has been said that it takes a crisis to show ones true character. So what does that say about the things we are seeing today? We’ve all witnessed the toilet paper hoarder or the person with thirty gallons of milk in their shopping carts to do God-knows what with. And yet in our same community there are those making a second trip to the store for the elderly or organizing sandwiches to be delivered to hungry families. How can such disparate characteristics exist around us simultaneously?

In his leadership fable “The Motive”, Patrick Lencioni outlines this beautifully when he describes two leadership motives: Reward-centered leadership and Responsibility-centered leadership. Here’s how he defines them:

Reward-centered leadership: the belief that being a leader is the reward for hard work; therefore, the experience of being a leader should be pleasant and enjoyable, free to choose what they work on and avoid anything mundane, unpleasant, or uncomfortable

Responsibility-centered leadership: the belief that being a leader is a responsibility; therefore, the experience of leading should be difficult and challenging (though certainly not without elements of personal gratification) [1]

For the reward definition I have a feeling you can picture what these people tend to be like. It’s the player on the team that literally shoots the ball every time they touch it. The salesperson who hits their personal target but bails on helping the rest of their team succeed. And let me be clear, I think all of us have a bit of this in us — success is more-often a greater quagmire than failure. As Jesus reminds us its easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Mark‬ ‭10:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

Yet there is something in the responsibility side that I believe deep down inspires us all. Maybe you’ve witnessed a stranger walk an old lady across the street. Or a runner stop to lift an injured opponent up and cross the finish line together. What is it about these people that makes them so different?

Oh Captain My Captain

“Fight for this alone: the man who stands at your shoulder. He is everything, and everything is contained within him.” Dienekes, Spartan soldier [1A]

In “The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership” author Sam Walker sets out to break the theory that it takes a star player (or even GOAT) to make the world’s greatest teams. Instead Walker believes “the most crucial ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness is the character of the player who leads it”.[2] According to Walker it was not the Jordan’s, Pele’s and Ruth’s that made the world’s greatest teams. Yes, they certainly served a pivotal role (this could be a whole separate discussion I’m sure), but without the “water carrier” and true captain of the team that leads by example, the greatest dynasties would not have lasted.

Carles Puyol demonstrated this. A fixture of FC Barcelona and the Spanish National team’s defense, Puyol played with such tenacity that he was well known for his close relationship with the medical staple gun that so-often closed up his wounds mid-game to avoid substitution. “I have always felt that I had to give everything. That’s how I’ve always been. It’s my way of respecting football and respecting my teammates.”[2A] Perhaps the greatest display of this was in 2004, when he passed over the known right to first lift the Champions League trophy as the team’s captain to teammate Eric Abidal who had recently returned from liver cancer treatment. As Puyol’s teammate David Villa said, “It was a gesture of comradeship not very often seen.”[2B]

Responsibility-centered leaders put respecting their teammates above themselves. Like US Women’s Soccer Captain Carla Overbeck who often carried every one of her teammates bags to their hotel after a grueling international flight. [2C] They are too busy caring for others to realize how significant their humble acts of leadership stand out. And while these are certainly impressive, the next level is doing this with your life literally on the line.

The Noblest of Virtues

“Courage is inseparable from love and leads to what may arguably be the noblest of all warrior virtues: selflessness.” Steven Pressfield, The Warrior Ethos [3]

In the 1940s German Nazi forces occupied France and through force, fear and conniving deception moved to annihilate the Jewish people living there. Yet one small city in south-central France stood faithfully against evil. The people of Le Chambon worked collectively under the leadership of Pastors Andre Trocme and Edouard Theis. Together they brought in, sheltered and cared for thousands of Jewish refugees (in most cases children) to rescue them from being sent to concentration camps.

It is estimated that they saved over five-thousand Jewish children through their efforts. In doing so they were under close watch by police and risked their own lives with the constant threat of arrest by the gestapo. And yet the people of Le Chambon, who as Huguenots (French Protestants) were certainly used to fighting against persecution, never asked for recognition. They were simply following and living out the teachings of Christ, as it is carved in stone outside of a local village church: AIMEZ-VOUS LES UNS LES AUTRES. Love One Another.[4]

It is in looking to the hearts of these people that paints the picture of the Responsibility-centered leader. Those who put their lives on the line certainly showcase this characteristic at its pinnacle. So what does it mean to be responsibility rather than rewards focused as a leader? I love how Sam Walker describes it:

“The truth is that leadership is a ceaseless burden. It’s not something people should do for the self-reflected glory, or even because they have oodles of charisma or surpassing talent. It’s something they should do because they have the humility and fortitude to set aside the credit, and their own gratification and well-being, for the team — not just in pressure-packed moments but in every minute of every day.”[2D]

Today I hope those in our community begin to treat all humanity as a team worth serving. Let us humbly live out our faith as Christ has taught us to do and as the brave people of Le Chambon showed us. There is no time like a crisis to show your true character, so why not choose to shape it out of the greatest responsibility of all: to Love One Another.

[1] “The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities”, Patrick Lencioni, pg.135

[1A] “The Warrior Ethos” Steven Pressfield pg. 40

[2] “The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership”, Sam Walker pg. xvii of Prologue; [2A] pg. 109; [2B] pg. 137; [2C] pg. 144; [2D] pg. 268

[3] “The Warrior Ethos” Steven Pressfield pg. 41


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