Great leaders are always growing and learning. They read regularly. They watch attentively. They ask important questions and they listen to wise counsel. I’ve always been a student of great leaders, and have allowed the wisdom and paths of those leaders to shape me personally as I lead and mentor others. I continue to discover that this forming and shaping has not only impacted my leadership style, but also my personhood—the way I see myself in relation to God and how I respond in my relationships with other people. Growing in wisdom and being secure in my own identity is what allows me to lead and love well. Security and safety are great confidence builders. They’re like rocket fuel that energizes us to give generously of our time, resources, and talents.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978), US anthropologist
I have always been drawn to communities. From a very young age, I had a small sense of tribalism. We were raised in a small town in South Carolina among family members, dear friends who were an extension of our family, mentors, teachers, coaches, and other community leaders. Those who nurtured my beginnings understood and embodied the African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.
But somewhere along the lines, children grow up. Those children began to embody or take on the values of their peers and other messengers or impostors around them. Impostors want us to believe that we can do it all on our own, leave others behind, and pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. Indeed, this is the American way. It is the way of pride and a way that lacks grace. But God has called us as Christian leaders to live a gospel and others-centered way. This is the way of the cross, the way of laying down our lives for the sake of others, and the way that considers the needs of the collective whole—the community—above our own self-centered way.
Over the course of my biblical justice studies, I have had the wonderful privilege of interacting with Mae Elise Cannon. Because I am overwhelmed with deadlines and Mae travels extensively, I do not feel like I have scratched the surface of all there is to glean from this woman of God. However, I have had the opportunity to read both of her books, The Social Justice Handbook and Just Spirituality.