Saturday, May 24, 2008

Decisions and Leadership

One day I had a decision to make and I didn't want to make that decision. Grandpa saw my dilemma and smiled but wouldn't help me in making that decision. All he said was,

Boy, as you grow up you will learn one thing whether you like it or not. That one thing is the idea of making decisions whether it is for yourself or for others. Some decisions may appear hard to make. There will be decisions that you will not like to make. There will be decisions that you will not want to make. Nevertheless, they will have to be made and you will have to make them, right or wrong.

The making of decisions is probably the one of the things that we have to do in life and do without choice in the matter. Now, that may seem like an oxymoronic statement yet it is true. What makes decision making hard is not the idea of making a good decision but the idea of making the correct decision.

A good decision may not always be the correct decision and I call this a mistaken decision. These decisions are correctable. A bad decision definitely is not a correct decision but it is not correctable and they are decisions we must live with. Once a bad decision has been made, the only thing that can be done is to make the end a good end to make that decision appear to have been a good decision.

Leaders are called leaders because the decisions they make have an effect on those who follow them. Those who follow a leader have a very important role. They have the role of being the support that a leader needs in regards to the decisions he makes. The problem here is the fact that not every decision a leader makes will have a positive effect on each and every one of his followers.

When a leader makes a decision that has a negative effect on his followers, he will lose their support. Whether or not he deserves the loss of support is another question to be answered. The loss of support is rarely justified. Just because a decision may have a negative effect on a follower does not necessarily justify not supporting a leader. Even the best of decisions that a leader may make will have a negative effect on some of his followers.

A leader may make a bad decision but he is not the only one that can make bad decisions. His followers can and will make bad decisions in regards to their support. It is when a leader makes a bad decision that he needs the support of his followers the most. For it is then that with the support of his followers that a leader can pursue a good ending.

Only the strongest of leaders is capable of pursuing that good ending without the support of his followers for he must pursue it without their help. In fact, they will even try to hinder that pursuit. Once hindered the end is prolonged unnecessarily and can end in a way that is not desired or hoped for.

Leadership is a quality that is possessed by few men in a society. Some will say that it is a quality given by God. Others will say that it is learned. Either way, the acceptance of the role of a leader is not one to be looked upon lightly. For it is a role only the thick-skinned can endure if he hopes to be a good leader. And we, who are called followers, should take a good look in the mirror and think twice before declaring a loss of support for our leaders.

So, boy, grow up to be a leader but know also there will be times you will stand alone.”

I just nodded and then thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to be a leader of men if they lead those who are so fickle in their loyalty?”


Lista said...

The first thing that I felt like doing in response to this was to try and summarize your definitions in relation to good and bad decisions.

Good - Mistaken decision; Not correct, but correctable.
Bad - Not correctable. Decisions that we must live with. We should try and make the end a good end.

I agree with you, Griper, that "the loss of support is rarely justified, just because a" (meaning only one) "decision may have a negative effect on a follower.", yet there are leaders who will make multiple decisions repetitively that have a negative effect on the same follower or the same group of followers over and over again. The loss of support in these cases is justified and should be expected.

I think that leadership is a gift from God, because we can see the beginning stages of it at very early ages, in the form of the Strong Willed Child. Becoming a good leader, though, is at least partly learned through experience.

It's interesting that you mentioned "thick-skin" because I once heard it said that "The level of a man's success can be measured by the thickness of his skin."

It has also been said that "It's lonely at the top.", yet perhaps it is not quite as much so if that leader has a few good friends who are close to him and have vowed to stick by him no matter what.

Perhaps we should "take a good look in the mirror and think twice before declaring a loss of support" or judgment on anyone, not just our leaders.

The Griper said...

leaders, by the nature of their position, have enemies. there are those who seek to be in his position and do whatever they have to in order to gain that position. and that means alienating that leader's followers from him. that is the political nature of leadership.

Lista said...

Hi Griper,
Sorry that it took me so long to get back to this post. It seems that God is doing some major work in my heart and I also felt the need to get away from the computer for awhile and didn't even look at it once yesterday.

Even after I read through the above post and responded to it, I continued to think of more things that I could say on the subject, for when you mentioned the whole idea of leadership, a whole bunch of different things came to mind.

Of course there is the Political Leader or Politician, which would also include the President. One could respond to the above post by applying a lot of what's written there to the decisions that have been made by President Bush in relation to the war and it could be said that even if the initial decision was a bad decision, we still need to support him so that he can be more successful at "making the end a good end".

Unfortunately, many in this country are not only not supporting Bush, but they are even "trying to hinder his pursuit". The result of this is that "the end is prolonged unnecessarily" and may even "end in a way that is not desired or hoped for."

Aside from the Political Leader, the other leader that came to mind was a Spiritual Leader, such as the Pastor of a Church. In relation to this, I thought of the loyalty that is so often expected and in fact, sometimes expected in excess of what it should be. In the case of a Spiritual Leader, if he is habitually not meeting the needs of his flock, than he does not deserve to be followed.

In relation to this, I couldn't help but to think about this loyalty thing relating to what some people call "Church Hopping". My parents used to talk about this a lot and I guess there is some truth to the idea that some people change churches too often because they lack the ability to commit and it is a valuable thing to remain put in one place at least long enough to form meaningful friendships and allow God to do a work in our hearts, yet as a child who listened to this "Church Hopping" complaint over and over again, I began to think that there was no such thing as a good reason to change churches, or to put this in the language of the above post, that there was no such thing as a good reason to with draw my support from a church or a leader, but this is ridicules. After all, aren't we supposed to follow God, not man? And aren't we supposed to be loyal to God, not to any one particular church body? Where in the Bible does it say that we are supposed to make a "till death do us part" sort of commitment to any one particular church body?

So we have the Political Leader and the Spiritual Leader, yet there is still one more leader that comes to mind and that is the Husband, who is the Leader in the Home. In this case, if the husband repetitively disregards the needs of his family when making decisions, he will eventually lose the support or respect of his family. Due to basic human nature, this is the natural result and for anyone to imply that such lose of support, respect, as well as also trust, is "rarely justified" would be biased and unfair.

In relation to this, the situation of each family unit needs to be judged separately and sometimes it is really hard to distinguish whether it was the leader or the followers who made the wrong choice. In the relationship between the husband and wife, often there are wrong choices made on both sides and that is where both repentance and forgiveness comes in.

Before I close, I guess I should give some kind of a response to your comment above. I don't think, Griper, that in order for leaders to have enemies, they necessarily have to be the sort of people who would "do whatever they have to in order to gain their position". Some people become leaders for no other reason than the fact that they have earned the respect of those around them and are well liked. In spite their popularity, though, they form enemies simply because of what you stated in your post in that "not every decision a leader makes will have a positive affect on each and every one of his followers." or put another way "You simply can not please everyone."

Perhaps I should just be quiet now and let some of your other readers talk. Hopefully, you are not becoming too tired of all of my many ramblings.

The Griper said...

yes, lista, i agree. but you also need to take into consideration how each obtains the position and its purpose.

a political leader is a position of power mainly. and it always has those who seek that position, whether it be an opposition force or within your own party.

a spiritual leader is appointed or hired. he has special qualifications of which none of the congregation possess thus there actually is no one seeking his position within the congregation.

the head of the household is one chosen and obtains the position through tradition and culture. thus no opposition there either.

Lista said...

I'm not sure that I'm following what you're saying here, Griper. Doesn't everyone seek the positions that they eventually obtain to?

A spiritual leader is not different than anyone else that is seeking a particular job. Such a leader would not be appointed or hired if he had not first sought out the position by first, going to seminary and then second, showing interest in such a position and/or applying for it.

Though it is true that the husband has his position because he is chosen by his wife, that doesn't occur until he has asked her out, wooed her and in some way proved himself worthy of her affection and in so doing, he seeks out this position in her life and in her heart.

On the other side of the issue, besides the fact that the husband is chosen, the politician is also chosen by the votes of the people and the spiritual leader is chosen (appointed or hired) by the leaders of the church and hopefully also by God Himself if there has been a legitimate calling on his life from God.

So far, I've mainly talked about the leadership side of your post. The decision making side of your post could be addressed as well, but I'm going to quit for now and leave the rest for another day.

The Griper said...

but of the three, only the political office is an office of power. and another leader liken unto political leaders are business leaders. that is another position of power.

and i am speaking of persons already in the position of leadership.

a pastor or a spiritual leader once hired or appointed has no one trying to take his job away from him. a husband has no one trying to take his position away from him.

but a political or business leader always has someone who would do whatever it takes to take his leadership away.

Lista said...

You know, the amazing thing is that I have seen churches in which the pastor is really on an incredible power trip and those who follow him don't even seem to know it. They have every right to leave, but instead they submit and give the guy his power.

I've also seen marriages that are the same way. Some such cases involve wife beating and the women just stay in the marriages and put up with it.

On the other side of the issue, there are pastors that are layed off and there are husbands who are cheated on and even replaced by the other man.

I don't know. Maybe you are just trying to make a point about the degree of power and the degree of threat, yet I'm still not sure why this point is significant. What is the actual point that you are making in relation to this?

The Griper said...

i agree that both may end up on a power trip, both husbands and pastors.

'On the other side of the issue, there are pastors that are layed off and there are husbands who are cheated on and even replaced by the other man."

but neither one was replaced by someone actively seeking to replace them as in politics or business while they held the position.

Lista said...

Again, you are talking about degrees, for there are exceptions to everything that you've said. I think what you are trying to say, though, is that business and politics, as a rule, are more brutal and cut throat than religion and romance and that this contributes to the accumulation of enemies. Point taken, let's move on.

I'd also like to share with you one of these days my journey in relation to learning how to make decisions, but I have a few other political discussions to attend to on the web first.

Lista said...

When I make decisions, the first thing I do is pray about it and then I wait for the answer to surface. Decisions are not really as hard as they seem. It's only when someone is rushing me to make a quick decision that I have problems. God is rarely ever in as much of a hurry as we tend to be and there are only a few decisions that absolutely must be made quickly, most can be made more slowly if we could just be more patient.

For me, it was a matter of learning how to listen to that inner voice. When I put too much weight on what everyone else is telling me, I remain in this perpetual state of confusion and believe it or not, it is this indecision that contributes to my depression and I will remain depressed sometimes until I decide my next course of action.

When I can't decide, I feel depressed and when I spend my life doing what I think everyone else expects, I feel depressed. When I just trust what I feel deep inside of me to be the correct answer and go with it, than I do much better.

The Griper said...

"When I can't decide, I feel depressed and when I spend my life doing what I think everyone else expects, I feel depressed. When I just trust what I feel deep inside of me to be the correct answer and go with it, than I do much better."

you're more of an individualist than you think. lolol stop worrying about the expectations of others. its your expectations of yourself that counts. you'll feel far better about yourself when you do as you illustrated in your own words.

Lista said...

Thanks Griper,
As far as individualism goes, everything needs to be kept in balance. No man is an island and we all have our needs, yet being controlled by the opinions of others isn't much fun either.

Lista said...

Thanks so much, Griper, for your kind words. Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you? Well, I do. You are a person that I have drawn quite a bit of strength from and I am truly grateful for your friendship.

The Griper said...

we have only two options when it comes to decision making.

1. we can make our own decisions which declares we are dependent upon ourselves to make the right decisions which is to say we are independent.

2. we can allow others to make those decisions which declares we are dependent upon others to make tthe right decisions which is to say we are dependent.

and yes, no man is an island in theory. and that applies to every decision we make also. outside influence is inevitible in any decision we make. but it is only an influence in our decisions not the cause of them.

and no man, regardless of how smart they be or how wise they be, makes the right decision every time. only God does because only God is all knowing and all wise.

so, yes it is inevitible that we will make wrong decisions and so will others if we give them the authority to make our decisions for us.

the problem comes in the acceptance of the consequences of those wrong decisions. we will have to pay for the consequences regardless of who makes those decisions. and it will be us who will need to correct that decision, no one else will or can. so, in the end we will need to make the decisions that corrects that wrong decision.

now, sure we can lay the blame on the other person for making a wrong decision but what good does that do? we still paid the consequences of it and it was our decision to permit them to make that decision. so, if we are to pay the consequences of a wrong decision isn't it better that we be the one who made that decision in the first place instead of blaming someone else for a decision we gave permission to make?

as you said you feel better about yourself when you make your own decisions. well. if it was a good decision then accept the rewards of that decision. if it wasn't then accept that it was a decision you can learn from. and learning is a good decision regardless of how we learn. accept the reward from that.

Lista said...

You forgot the third option, which is to allow God to make those decisions for us, for even when we have decided not to rely on others to make our decisions for us, we still have two options;

1. Weigh the pros and cons and make the decision on our own rationally, or...

2. Pray about it and wait for the answer to surface from inside of us.

It's a matter of trusting oneself and our own judgments about what to do or about what God is saying to our hearts.

I actually take risks at times while my friends are urging me not to, yet when a friend persuades me not to do something, I have more of a tendency to feel like something has been torn away from me, than when I decide on my own to take the risk and end up losing something as the result. The second situation, believe it or not, causes me less pain. I guess it is because there is no anger connected with it, only disappointment.

Because of this discovery, I am getting to the point in which I don't even ask for outside opinions on certain things any more.

Lista said...

Responding to this post has been quite therapeutic for me. Here I am later in life, finally learning how to be an individual and finally learning how to be independent. This information would have been so very useful earlier in my life.

All I feel like saying now is that the "Individual Spirit" or "Independent Spirit" does not come automatically. I think it has to be learned. So many of us have lost it somehow and thus, the drift towards socialism and dependence.

It's so sad and yet how can we stop it. The problem lies within the people, not the government. Somewhere along the line, we lost our motivation and our drive; our will to fight; our will to be individuals and I've been right in there with the rest; just as empty and deprived in spirit.

I've finally concluded that other people are not at all skilled in deciding what is best for my life. I'm better at that than anyone. It is funny that it took me almost my entire life to realized this.

As to blaming, sometimes I feel tempted to blame God for what seems to me to be His wrong decisions about how He made me or how He has set up the world so that everything is so darn difficult. He made us far too sensitive and breakable. Our emotions are far too strong. The human spirit damages far too easily. In some ways, we are so different from each other that it's nearly impossible to fully connect and understand.

And it is really not all that irrational to blame ones parents for their poor decisions in how they raised us. As children, we did not have the emotional strength to challenge and over ride these decisions. To blame ourselves, as children, for "permitting" our parents "to make these decisions for us" would be totally foolish and yet in so many ways it is the poor decisions of our parents that resulted in this lack of emotional strength that have contributed to our struggles all through life.

We need to forgive these things and figure out ways to move on, yet to totally and completely blame ourselves for the weaknesses within us that have resulted from whatever cause is no more productive than blaming others. Sometimes there simply is no one to blame. What is, just is, and that's just the way it is. Some of it can be changed and some can not and that's just the way life is.

The Griper said...

you've said a lot in those few words, far more than i think you realize too.

but i'll say this. it is never to late to learn things. and it serves no purpose to look into the past and say "i wish i knew this then". for if we had known everything when we wished we did we'd have nothing too learn now or in the future because everything we do learn now could have helped us in the past too.

children do not allow parents to make their decisions for them. children are not mature enough to make their own decisions. thus parents have the responsibility and obligation to make those decisions for children.

but also remember, lista, any bad decision they made in regards to their children are reversible. the only question being is how long it takes and what needs to be done in order to reverse those effects. and remember also i am not speaking of child abuse here.


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