Our times are turbulent. Technology has given us a “think globally, act locally” public square that brings the world to our doorstep. It’s a time that desperately needs leaders.
“Postmodernity” is the ten dollar word scholars use to describe our times. It’s a term referencing the global culture that emerged in the late Twentieth Century and continues today. Actually, postmodernity is both a period of time and a belief system, both of which are characterized by “moral relativism” (meaning people believe that truth cannot be defined or known, so neither can “right” or “wrong” be identified). It’s also a time characterized by extroverted sensuality, consumer choice among an infinite variety of options—including spirituality—and a sense of “living in the now.”
Postmodern men and women are able to do what’s right in their own eyes. And “what’s right” can literally be a construct of our own imagination. So one person’s determination of “What’s right” means nothing to the rest of us. We live in the now.
This sounds attractive, in part, because we’re all “closet libertarians.” We want to do what we want to do without interference. We want to follow our own self-generated rules for living. We sing along with Frank Sinatra, “I’ll do it my way."
But this free wheeling emotional, social, economic, and political landscape is the very thing that causes people to feel uncertain, confused, anxious, and afraid. It’s the cultural condition that creates people’s hunger for leaders who can make sense of it all.
Religion doesn’t seem to help much. Either religion has sold out to consumerism, offering schlock products rather than faith and wisdom principles for real life. Or religion is imploding on its own lack of confidence, no longer sure of its foundations or its vision for a better tomorrow. Of course if there is no truth, who cares what religion says anyway?
But therein is the problem. The idea that truth doesn’t exist is a satanic lie. If we’re deluded by this idea than maybe we’ll forget that God is, that he is sovereign over world affairs, and that He has a plan for us.
The “problem of our times” is also the “opportunity of our times” as leaders. The more volatile the times, the more leaders can more quickly make a difference. Like Theodore Roosevelt, who chose to address and alter the problems of his day, great leaders step up.
Postmodern times need leaders like Jesus, who—“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Our turbulent times need what might be called “shepherd leaders.”
Shepherd leaders know all their sheep—their abilities, their needs, their unique challenges. Shepherd leaders know their environment and the threats within it. They know where they’re going and why, and they know what their sheep need to do to be productive and successful.
Perhaps this analogy tends to break down, for not all followers are like sheep, nor are followers simply passive and leaders the absolute masters of their flocks. But there are still principles to glean.
Our postmodern times have deeply unsettled our culture, our country, and our colleagues, friends, and neighbors. Leaders with genuine Christian faith and hope, leaders who genuinely care about others, and leaders who genuinely give of themselves can bless their organizations and their communities with moral imagination, courage, and clarity. These leaders do not depend upon religion but upon a relationship with Christ. These leaders are compassionate, visionary, energetic, and true. They know that their confidence and their competence come from the Lord. These leaders trust Christ and are therefore able to be trustworthy. They believe in truth, so they speak truthfully. These leaders step up to the challenges and opportunities of turbulent times.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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