Archive for March 30th, 2006

Sweet

March 30, 2006

I heard Leonard Sweet speak three times last year at a seminar in Oklahoma. He’s the poster child for the postmodern, a theologian/scholar who writes books with titles like AquaChurch, SoulSalsa, Carpe Manana, and A Cup of Coffee at the SoulCafe. I don’t know exactly what to do with him, not that he has asked or anything. I learned from him, and I find much of his insight to be right on the money and valuable. But he’s a different bird than me, too.

I’ve somewhat admired the hippies of the 60s, while admitting that I probably wouldn’t have joined the commune had I been there. I think these postmodern gurus may be a new breed like that, but instead of tie-dyed shirts and a bag of weed, these guys come with cool eyeglasses and a cup of Starbucks. (When I saw Sweet, he also came with long silver hair and all black clothing, too.) I’ve always hoped that I would have tried to learn from the hippie movement had I been there instead of dismissing it as silly. I’m trying to do the same with Leonard Sweet, hoping that I can build some sort of internal bridge between the staunchly modern and emerging postmodern parts of my own personality.

So I broke down and bought one of his books with a title I found interesting: Summoned to Lead. I found it to be…how shall I say it…very postmodern. I underlined lots of profound statements. I wondered what in the world he was talking about the rest of the time. I assume this is postmodernity at its best.

I’m going to share some bits and pieces from Sweet on Thursdays so that our readers can help me figure some of this out. Oh, who am I kidding, there’s about five of us that actually read Houseflies on a regular basis. So if all five of you will engage me in a little dialogue, I’d appreciate it. You can help me break down this book and learn something that might inspire us all to make a positive difference in this rapidly changing world.

In the Introduction, Sweet writes: To put it bluntly: the whole leadership thing is a demented concept. Leaders are neither born nor made. Leaders are summoned. They are called into existence by circumstances. Those who rise to the occasion are leaders. Everyone is “called” by God for some kind of mission. But sometimes the “called” are “called out” for leadership. How you manifest your mission will change throughout the course of your life. But the mission remains constant…

To illustrate, Sweet recalls John F. Kennedy’s response when asked how he became a war hero: It was easy. They sank my boat.

So what do you folks think: Is leadership totally dependent on circumstances?

Mordecai’s plea for salvation from Esther “at such a time as this” rings down through the millennia as a thought worth considering. It’s an overtly spiritual thought on one hand (being called by God), but not necessarily so (e.g. Lincoln was elected by actual votes after all). Either way, leadership is directly related to outstanding circumstances.

I “think” Sweet eventually makes a point that depends totally on this foundation. So are we with him so far? Or has he been drinking a little too much coffee?