I finally succumbed. I am now tweeting. I had thought I should draw the line somewhere in the sand where technology had not yet made inroads into my life, but I finally gave in. If you’d like to receive my tweets on leadership and the Christian life, as well as know where I am speaking, you can “follow” me at @richardblackaby As I signed on to follow the tweets of others, it soon became apparent that there are a lot of great thoughts and resources available to people, if they want it. Of course, if you’re not careful, you can quickly squander your day, posting tweets, checking Facebook, and uploading pictures on Pinterest. But the truth is that never in history has so much helpful information been so readily available.
Mark Twain once observed that the person who chose not to read had no advantage over someone else who was illiterate. Likewise, the person who does not recognize, or heed, good counsel has no advantage over the person who lacks advisors. The writer of Proverbs sagely advised: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days” (Proverbs 19:20).
I am regularly notified of great new books on leadership and the Christian life that are being published. I am also alerted to numerous conferences on every aspect of the Christian life. Because I’m an avid student of leadership, I keep track of many of the new resources constantly being made available. There is a ton of helpful stuff out there!
But this is what puzzles me. I meet people all the time who are struggling in their leadership role as a parent, or a pastor, or business or church leader. These people are discouraged and frustrated at the sparseness of their success. As I speak with these troubled leaders I am often struck by how little they are doing to better themselves as leaders. When you ask them what books they are presently reading, they inform you they “aren’t readers.” When you mention helpful leadership seminars that were held in their city, they note that they had considered attending, but never did. When you mention coaching services that could walk with them, they claim it costs too much money. When you mention successful leaders in the area they might take to lunch one day to consult with, they claim their situation is different. When you mention helpful websites or daily Tweets by insightful leaders or Online resources available for leaders, they tell you that maybe they will look those up some time . . . Tragically many leaders are drowning while they are surrounded by innumerable resources that might have kept them afloat.
I have seen this in many different contexts. I used to be the president of a seminary in Canada. We had people living in other cities bemoaning the fact that the leadership training we offered was inaccessible to them. So we would send a professor to their city to offer a class on a Saturday. The same people would complain that the venue we had chosen was on the opposite end of town where they lived, so they hadn’t attended. We’d offer a class in their church, but the same people would fail to attend because they had a conflict on Saturdays and wondered if we could come on a different day of the week . . .
Or here is an interesting one. Is there any greater leadership role we’ll ever hold than being a parent? Can you think of any leadership task you might have that has greater stakes or that you are more motivated to succeed at? Yet how many parents do you know who make any serious effort to ask for advice from other successful parents? I am not holding myself up here as a model parent (far from it!). But my three kids have all turned out great (Due to having a great mother!). At times Lisa and I have frazzled parents tell us that we have been “lucky” to have such great kids. While we do feel grateful to God for how our kids turned out (so far!), much of who they have become has nothing to do with luck! As our kids were growing up, Lisa and I would often seek advice from people who had already successfully navigated the parental stage we were just entering. We gained all kinds of great tips and ideas. But do you know what? I could probably count on the fingers of my two hands the number of people who ever asked Lisa or me for advice on parenting. I don’t say this to boast about our parenting. I also realize that there are a host of different psychological, sociological, and biological, and economical circumstances that parents uniquely face when rearing their children. It is just that with so many people seeking to undertake such an important leadership task, you would think that you would be inundated with people seeking any help they could find. But they often aren’t. The problem is that people suffer when we do not fully become the leader God intends for us to become.
Our ministry, like many others, is seeking to provide helpful resources to those wanting to grow as leaders in their home, in their church, and at work. We have professional leadership coaches who can walk with you. We have books and articles available. We have a Spiritual Leadership Network you can join so other leaders walk with you Online. But all the resources in the world will make no difference if you do not make use of them.
In 2012, could I encourage you to ask the Lord to lead you to some fresh new resources that could help you lead better? Perhaps it is to be inspired by following my Tweets! Perhaps you need to enlist a leadership coach for a couple of sessions. Maybe you should read that book that is presently collecting dust on your shelf. Maybe you should make plans to attend a conference. But do something! And do it soon. There is a lot at stake.