Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Making of a Leader

I just started reading John MacArthur’s book Twelve Ordinary Men, which is a character study on the twelve apostles. When I started the book I wasn’t entirely sure what it would be like.

The first person that MacArthur outlines is Simon Peter, whom he calls “the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth.” We know quite a bit about Simon Peter. He is spoken of and quoted more than any of the other apostles in the gospels. MacArthur takes you a bit further, though. He talks about Peter’s leadership qualities. What qualities was he born with that made him a natural leader? What qualities did Jesus have to mold within him to make him a better leader? How did Jesus do this? And then he shows examples from the books of Scripture that Peter himself wrote that show that he learned well the lessons Jesus taught him.

One example of a characteristic that was naturally woven into Peter’s personality was inquisitiveness. MacArthur has this to say about that characteristic:

When you’re looking for a leader, you want someone who asks a lot of questions. People who are not inquisitive simply don’t make good leaders. Curiosity is crucial to leadership. People who are content with what they don’t know, happy to remain ignorant about what they don’t understand, complacent about what they haven’t analyzed, and comfortable living with problems they haven’t solved – such people cannot lead. Leaders need to have an insatiable curiosity. They need to be people who are hungry to find answers. Knowledge is power. Whoever has the information has the lead. If you want to find a leader, look for someone who is asking the
right questions and genuinely looking for answers.

This sort of inquisitiveness normally manifests itself in early childhood. Most of us have encountered children who ask question after question – wearying their parents and other adults with a nonstop barrage of petty puzzlers. That is part of the fabric of leadership.

In the Gospel accounts, Peter asks more questions than all the other apostles combined. It was usually Peter who asked the Lord to explain His difficult sayings (Matt. 15:15; Luke 12:41). It was Peter who asked how often he needed to forgive (Matt. 18:21). It was Peter who asked what reward the disciples would get for having left everything to follow Jesus (Matt. 19:27). It was Peter who asked about the withered fig tree (Mark 11:21). It was Peter who asked questions of the risen Christ (John 21:20-22). He always wanted to know more, to understand better. And that sort of inquisitiveness is a foundational element of a true leader.

This was such an encouragement to me as a parent! I tend to get annoyed with a barrage of questions, but this has challenged me to look at inquisitiveness as a natural gift that can be used to make the child a great leader someday. There are other character qualities that Simon Peter was not naturally born with but that Jesus had to teach him (submission, restraint, humility, compassion, and courage). Seeing how Jesus taught these traits by modeling them was a great encouragement, but also very convicting.

I know this isn’t really a parenting book, but I can see already that it will be a help to me in my parenting as I look for these God-given character traits and learn to appreciate them and as I look for ways to teach the desirable traits that don’t come naturally.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Hi Jennifer. This looks like a great book. I can see how it would be inspirational. I am always a better mom when I spend some time on books like this.

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