Happy New Year from Jessup Leadership!
This week, people across the world commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Certainly, King influenced significant change in the civil rights climate in the United States. Before his death, he prayed this simple, yet profound prayer:
King relentlessly pursued this greater purpose, holding to an unwavering belief in its merit, yet without certainty he would see it fulfilled. Leadership author Jim Collins calls this Level 5 Leadership.
In his book Good to Great, Collins says that it’s not enough for leaders to be highly capable, contribute to teams, manage competently, and lead effectively toward a compelling vision. Top-notch leaders embody a fifth component of leadership: they build enduring greatness through commitment to a vision far greater than themselves.
Further, Collins suggests that leaders accomplish this final step through the paradoxical combination of personal humility, coupled with steadfast resolve to pursue this greater good.
Truly great leaders forge ahead toward larger-than-life goals, without certainty they will see them come to full fruition. This reminds me of the biblical account of the men and women of faith in Hebrews 11.
In the middle of highlighting the impressive resumes of people like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, and David, the writer of Hebrews says something especially troubling for leaders:
“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance…”
Abraham never saw his descendants number the stars in the sky. David never saw the Messiah who would rise from his lineage. Dr. King’s life was stolen long before he saw racial equality.
This raises these questions: Are you and I willing to exemplify this kind of leadership humility, pursuing goals far greater than us, even if we never see them fully accomplished? What is one big-picture goal that is worthy of your pursuit today?
Daniel Gluck serves as Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies at Jessup, and Lead Faculty for the B.A. in Christian Leadership program.