Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Churchill's Success - Lessons for Pastors.

I do enjoy Paul Johnson's writings. As a historian, he has a unique ability to weave together all matters of society, including spiritual realities, in his description of his historical recordings. His short account of Churchill is very readable. The raw humanity of the man, matched with the moment of history made for one extraordinary leader.

In his chapter entitled: "Supreme Power and Frustration", Johnson suggests the factors that favored Churchill's nation-changing leadership include:
  1. "First, as a civilian leader, Churchill benefitted from a change of national opinion toward the relative trustworthiness of politicians and service leaders...
  2. "Second, the concentration of power in Churchill's person, with the backing of all parties... He always behaved with absolute propriety...
  3. "Third, Churchill was personally fortunate in that he took over at a desperate time... 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'"
  4. "Fourth, Churchill himself began to set a personal example of furious and productive activity at Ten Downing Street...
  5. "The fifth factor was Churchill's oratory... 'Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival...'We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and on oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender... 'I try to be a philosopher, but cheerfulness keeps breaking in.'"
  6. "Sixth, however, came his sense of the importance of airpower and his speed in grasping the opportunities it offered..."
  7. Seventh, though Britain was not in the position to attack Hitler on the Continent, Churchill ensured that powerful blows were struck against his [allies]...' When his foreign secretary asked him:"What shall I tell Turkey?" Churchill replied: "Warn her Christmas is coming".'"
  8. " Eighth, Wavell was encouraged to 'Go for Musso', as Churchill put it and eventually did..."
  9. "Ninth, Churchill was always on the lookout for allies, large and small. 'These are not dark days: these are great days- the greatest days our country has ever lived. And we must all thank God that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.'"
  10. "...tenth point, Churchill had an uncanny gift for getting priorities right... 'He is not a gambler but never shrinks from taking a calculated rick as if the situation so demands. His whole heart and soul are in the battle and he is an apostle of the offensive.'"

For the pastor, these are extremely valuable lessons. Allow me to comment briefly:
  1. Ensuring a culture for leadership trustworthiness is essential in times of peace for they are equity in times of war.
  2. In times of war, the leader MUST be given space and room to lead and not be bogged down by bureaucratic mindedness.
  3. The pastor must allow God to continuously reinvent them and their leadership style. "This is me, take it or leave it", is a sign of immaturity and insecurity. God wants to continuously refashion us for the situation.
  4. The leader must set the tone for a culture of hard work that can be imitated and modelled.
  5. The visionary needs to increasingly develop their verbal skills to clearly communicate the call to forward movement. We don't just need an anointing. We also need words to communicate our ideas.
  6. To us, airpower is the power of prayer! Or as Tim Chaddick [Reality LA] said to me "we prayed our faces off".
  7. Using the discerning of spirits, we can identify the work of the enemy and discern what our best form of assault must be.
  8. Celebrate little victories! These will breathe life and courage into us for the big battles.
  9. "It is not good that man is alone". We are created to partner and collaborate with others. The ability to empower each and every person as vital players, in the journey, is a true gift.
  10. Is one of the lead pastor / visionary pastor's greatest skills needed, the ability to identify priorities and make the big decisions based on these?


  1. Chris,
    I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation around leadership last Friday evening at your casa. I also appreciated your explanation on the ecology of love the following Sunday.

    I suppose its not coincidence but rather Gods kindness that the conversation lately pertains to the area that I've struggled with most greatly; Leadership.

    To be fair, I admit that my understanding of the dynamics of leadership is limited. I know that leadership is vitally important to any institution (church, marriage, family, career, etc.). However, I don't quite fully understand why my perception of 'leadership' within the context of church is as follows:
    1. Ministry leadership is the ultimate/something I should strive for.

    2. I shouldn't settle for anything less than ministry leadership because
    "God has so much more for me."

    Now perhaps I could be completely wrong with my assessment and understanding of what has been conveyed to me regarding church leadership, and you can call me delusional. Or I can admit that it is partly my immaturity and lack of understanding along side the truth about what's been portrayed in regards to church leadership.

    Part of my struggle lies in the fact that I was almost immediately put in a position of leadership soon after my salvation. I was a new convert and was surrounded by quality leadership minded men, most notably Donnie and Mark. And so naturally leadership was something I didn't feel I had to strive or work for, instead I felt as though it had landed in my lap. With that said, it comes as no surprise that my depth or lack there of, about the understanding of leading and ministry leadership has come 'on the field', almost a 'fly by the seat of your pants' type of learning.

    So because of this I've realized how shallow and how unrooted my theology of leadership is. I'll give you an illustration from Matthew 25 about the the parable of the talents:

    Matthew 25
    20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

    My first question regarding the first point is this: Should not the focus of christian work be service rather than leadership? If it is God who appoints leadership, then should the Church's priority be that of service, hence 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'?

    Secondly, is it at all wrong for me not to desire leadership in the context of church, but rather a desire for servanthood? For instance if I say: "I much more desire to serve in a ministry under another's leadership than lead the ministry.", is that wrong?

    The reason I ask is because I feel that there has been a microscopic lens under the words "leading/leadership" and not enough focus and attention on the words "service/servant". Despite my lack of knowledge in leadership and leading I firmly believe that any great leader must be rooted in service. If not, you end up with ingredients that make for a shallow, fragile, and slightly narcissistic leader.

    I think your 4th point is brilliant: "The leader must set the tone for a culture of hard work that can be imitated and modeled." I believe that the leaders @ Southlands have done this amazingly well, and I wouldn't be where I am had they not.

    Thanks Chris for your personal time and investment into the bride and its members. By no means were my intentions to attack, or criticize. My intent was to wrestle with and probe this amazing dynamic of the christian life.

    Dominus vobiscum,

  2. You a very good man! A very good man of whom I am very proud