Kraig Lowell Pullam

My thoughts. My reflections. My journey…. On pastoring, preaching, leading & learning.

Archive for the category “Leadership”

My Take on Bill

 In 2010, I almost named my baby son Kosby Lowell. 

There you have it from the jump. Without secret or hesitation, like many, I grew up in the nineties on The Cosby Show.  Invariably, as with Seinfeld, The Bernie Mack Show or The Jamie Foxx Show, one could not dispatch the show from its namesake and lead figure. In fact, Bill Cosby was essentially one of the leading pioneers in this sort of autobiographical kind of satirical humor in PRIMETIME America; particularly crossing over to every culture, race and creed. Bill Cosby single-handedly, with his stellar cast, became a household name. I, like many, couldn’t wait for Thursday to arrive!!! In a real sense, Mr. Cosby personified a charicarization of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “American Dream”.  The Huxtables cleverly and compellingly enchanted America and persuaded the nation, possibly the world, that Malcolm’s “Nightmare” had diminished and Black America could live, work and dream as they pleased. 

Tragically , and often unfairly, segmented society will often trip on the paradigm and make the picture interchangeably synonymous with the person. In all fairness, The Cosby Show was an autobiographical reflection of Cosby’s own life. Camilla was Clair. Bill was Cliff. The four kids were his own son and three (3) daughters. But what if the story wasn’t about his own life at all?  Would his personal life taint a person’s sacred view of Cliff?  I do not know. What I do know is that this scathing truth prevails in Christendom, for sure. 
On the one hand, we cannot expel the message from the messenger. Conversely, the church can unfairly crown the Christian Leader with an unattainable standard that only Christ can comfortably reach. 

Since 2014, Cosby has been accused by over 50 women of either rape, drug facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, and/or sexual misconduct, with the earliest alleged incidents taking place in the mid-1960s. After an October 2014 comedy routine by previously unknown comedian Hannibal Buress casually accusing Cosby of inappropriate sexual behavior went viral, earlier sexual assault allegations against Cosby became more public, prompting many female accusers to come forward. In the wake of the allegations, numerous organizations have severed ties with the comedian, and previously awarded honors and titles have been revoked. Cosby and his lawyers have repeatedly denied the allegations, calling the allegations discredited. Most of the acts alleged by his accusers fall outside the statutes of limitations for legal proceedings. Today,  December 30, 2015, numerous civil lawsuits against Cosby, as well as a single charge of aggravated indecent assault in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, remain pending.  He was arraigned today. 

I would like to make a few observations, as this is clearly not going away. 

1) As the husband to a woman I love, a mother I cherish, two goddaughter who I pray for daily and countless women to whom I minister, I am very sensitive to the cries of these woman. I am not naive enough to think that sexual harassment is mere fiction. Worse still, as with the “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004,  often the woman is villainized while the man is given a pass of fidelity. As with the woman caught in adultery in scripture (John 8:1-11), the brother is conspicuously excused and exempt. This is unfair and inequitable. 

2) As a man living in what Maya Angelou calls “these yet to be United States”, I cannot help but ask “Why now?”  Okay….I can hear someone shooting me down. 50 women? Speaking out since 2014? I’m just saying!

3) As a Christian who is a pastor, I think this should lead us to ask a few questions. Let’s face it…Leaders fail. Some fail more and more often than others. I often wonder if the church does a good job of 1) restoring those who’ve fallen 2) given enough thought to preserving the message and legacy of spiritual leaders after they have fallen from grace. 

Focusing on my last point, I have seen it go in both directions. There are churches that will turn a blind eye to a leader’s alleged (or confessed) in descretions. I know of a Bishop who was accused of several improprieties, and there seemed (it may have been done privately) to be no form of discipline, counseling, repentance, etc. on the other hand, I’ve seen draw it measures taken in churches where the leader is not only removed; but any semblance of trace of their ministry in that congregation is obliterated, stripped down, sanitized and thrown into the wilderness with the nameless creatures in the 2004 movie “The Village.”  

Is this right?  If Billy Graham is discovered to have been a murderer years ago, should all of his honors, medals, books, sermons be destroyed?  I can go on and on all day. But I will stop here and simply ask, at the end of this year, that we pray for spiritual leaders and their families. The stakes are high, and the Devil is busy!  

I am praying for Cosby, his accusers, those who admire him and are effected by his influence. I do not claim to know him personally; and would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I do the same for these accusers. But let us also consider the spiritual underpinnings of how this connects to the church and how we respond to someone who is accused, guilty, innocent or all of the above. 

Ultimately, God’s grace extends toward us all. What are your thoughts?  

The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership

  

Over the course of the past week, I’ve struck gold! Jenni Catron’s new publication “The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership” is a goldmine for every leader who seeks refining in the private and public arena. I love to read just about anything. But I am a sucker for biographies, books on leadership, the craft and skill of expositional preaching and Christian living. This book merges and meshes biography, leadership and Christian living into one volume that is practical, portable and pregnant with leadership nuggets in layman’s terms.  

To begin with, the author addresses, at the core, what she terms “…the DNA of extraordinary.” In unearthing the true definition of extraordinary, in relation to leadership, Catron contends, “…extraordinary leaders call others to their extraordinary best.” Using Christ, other biblical characters, modern-day leaders who’ve exceled and her own lessons of success and failure, she outlines the four aspects of leadership that essentially inspire and ignite others to not only follow the leader; but to develop as leaders. The four dimensions, Catron argues the power and resourcefulness of the Shema, also known as “The Great Commandment”; and its enormous implications for us as leaders. We can find the Great Commandment recorded in several of the gospels, quoting Hebrew literature. Mark 12:30 says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all of your mind and with all your strength.” In leading with all of who we are, for the sake of God and others, it requires my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. And to not give all of myself would, in turn, shortchange God and others. 

 

Before exploring the 4 dimensions of heart (relational leadership), soul (spiritual leadership), mind (managerial leadership) and strength (visionary leadership), Catron delves into the three aspects that are essential to all four dimensions: the image of leadership (character), leading in chaos (embracing the tensions within leadership and inspiring others in the midst of tension), leading from within (leading ourselves well to lead others better). The author debunks the notion that all great leaders are extroverts, talkative, etcetera. In a real sense, there are great leaders who are introverts and act more than they make announcements. But one of the things she seeks to communicate is that our experiences in life influence how we lead our own selves and how we, in turn, lead others. Catron asserts that character (a word she uses quite frequently) is often defined as “who you are when no one is looking.” It means firmly pursing the elements that will grow you regardless of whether they get immediate attention by those who surround us or on a larger scale. Character is about pursuing Christlikeness. When it comes to the heart, one of the truths that stands out is the fact that people follow leaders not for the leader but for themselves. Extraordinary leadership has the ability to convince people of such. Relational leadership (from the heart) puts people work before paper work; and seeks to encourage and inspire others toward greatness and influence. Spiritual leadership (from the soul) contends that leadership always flourishes in the face of servanthood and submission. That while humility and submission are counterintuitive to today’s leadership paradigm, these virtues should anchor who we are as spiritual leaders who model the example of Christ. Managerial leadership (from the mind) puts intentional time and effort into building review processes and performance management systems that create effective dialogue between employees and their managers, according to Catron. And visionary leadership (from strength) requires the attributes of courage, patience, endurance, conviction and focus. A strong vision will inspire the team. 

 All in all, we can see Christ as the consummate example of these four dimensions of leadership on the extraordinary level. 

I like this book; and I’ve enjoyed reading it as well. It is my hope to sift through it during the course of the coming year and share some of its highlights with the leaders I pour into. I give this book two thumbs up; and suggest it for leadership and laity alike!

Valley of Vision

  

Each Monday, I try to return to this prayer. The roots of our longings often grow deeper, not on our mountains; but in our valleys. *Psalm 23:4*

The Valley of Vision

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

You have brought me to the valley of vision,

where I live in the depths but see you in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold your glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up,

that to be low is to be high,

that the broken heart is the healed heart,

that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,

that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,

that to have nothing is to possess all,

that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,

that to give is to receive,

that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter your stars shine;

Let me find your light in my darkness,

your life in my death,

your joy in my sorrow,

your grace in my sin,

your riches in my poverty,

your glory in my valley.

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