Chad Hall has a fascinating article in the current "Leadership" magazine that talks about "Leadership Heroes." In the article he notes that there is a distinct pattern:
"the progress a leader makes in moving toward his goals is directly correlated with the degree of speed and certainty with which he can name his heroes…. There could be a host of reasons for this pattern, but my chief theory is that having heroes demonstrates a mature level of self-reflection and self-awareness. Heroes don’t fuel the leadership journey; they are evidence that the leader has fuel. In simple terms, leaders with heroes have thought about what kind of person they want to be, while those who don’t have heroes lack a certain degree of self-awareness. Such awareness is necessary for a person to fully engage the leadership role and stay committed to the leadership journey."
The second observation he makes is that there are four basic categories of heroes: Familiar, (a parent, a coach, etc.) Famous (Churchill, Lincoln Bill Gates, Bono, etc.), Faith (Abraham, Paul, Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa,etc.) & Fictional (Atticus Finch, William Wallace, Paul Bunyon, etc.).
People who have heroes from only one category tend to have the weaknesses of that category in their own leadership, while people who have heroes from two or more categories tend to avoid the perils associated with those types.
Chad Hall goes on to note that heroes show leaders definite areas for personal growth.
- A hero often embodies a quality or ability the leader doesn’t possess (yet).
- The second function of a hero is to demonstrate a successful expression of a quality the leader already possesses to some degree.
So…who are your preaching heroes (since this is a blog on preaching)?
Just without thinking much about it, I can mention several of my preaching heroes:
Familiar: the preacher at my home church in Colorado, Dale McCann…he taught me a love for the word and he modeled preaching without notes. Additionally, he stayed at the same church for (I think) 29 years or so. You don’t stay that long in one place without replenishing yourself regularly. W.F. Lown (the president of the undergraduate college I attended). He modeled excellence in preparation, intensity in delivery and an obvious love for those to whom he was preaching.
Famous: Probably 90% of all preachers have Billy Graham on their list somewhere. His ability to communicate the gospel simply has both been praised and derided. But in taking the "Evangelistic Preaching" audio course and then trying to listen to numerous examples of his preaching, his heart for people’s salvation, his relevance to his audience and his clarity are models that I need.
Perhaps I would mention Robert Schuller, even as controversial as he probably is with many readers of my blog. Again, his ability to show the relevance of scripture to the lives of contemporary non-Christians made him effective, particularly in the 70’s and 80’s.
Faith: I don’t know…I think I would pick the OT prophets as a group and their willingness to use physical means to demonstrate God’s message. Isaiah’s willingness to walk around in his underwear [rather than naked as is commonly taught], Ezekiel laying on his side for 390 days, Hosea marrying a prostitute. They used methods (dictated by God, of course) that outwardly demonstrated their message. Of course I would have to include Jesus and his method of using parables to preach.
Fictional: This one stumps me. I don’t immediately think of fictional preaching heroes. I will have to give it some thought. I’ll report back what I find.
What about you? Do you have preaching heroes? Share them with us.