How is this true? Are you comfortable with this? Are you comfortable admitting this as a leader, as a follower?
This was recently brought to mind when talking with a friend who returned from a weekend trip, very excited and clearly influenced by the time and it’s leaders. Here is another way of saying it: Those who have influence provide ways of thought and sometimes rules of thought/interpretation for those who receive their input.
Does that seem more real to you? It’s the same thing.
Here is one fact we know from scripture; Be careful who you look to for leadership, because their pattern of life is going to be imparted to you. Isn’t this why the scriptures teach us to know our leaders and their pattern of life, because this is what comes thru to us in their influence, even more than what they are saying?
When I first heard that leaders define reality for those who follow them, it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want to think of leadership in these terms, because I didn’t want to have this kind of influence in someone else’s life. I don’t personally feel all that comfortable shaping someone’s reality toward my perspective. As I have considered this over time, I started to see how this is indeed true, for better and for worse.We look to those in leadership for the interpretation of events; past, current, and future. We need help interpreting what has happened in history, understanding what is going on now, and anticipating how things will be for us tomorrow and beyond. The people we look to in this way have significant impact on our perspective, our concept of reality, and what we consider valuable or worthless.
After all, aren’t those we look to for leadership expected to be focused on what’s important, what’s essential?
We all have a stewardship of influence, and this is a big responsibility, and also a frightening opportunity. Because of the scope of this impact, we must approach our influence as leaders with a strong degree of restraint and humility.
Here is one way we can understand this idea, thru observing the media. Maybe in particular, the news media. Why does the news media have such a powerful impact in shaping perspective and training worldview? Here is one way. It tells you what it thinks is important, and then it interprets what it has just shown you. Those who are in control of the information flow must have already decided what was important & essential, or it would not be featured. From this point, the happenings are shaped toward the perspective and worldview being espoused by the media source.
Now that is an easy one, but let’s not look down on the news media and forget our own responsibility. Whatever is coming out of your mouth when you are talking with others is what you consider important, and doubtless you are trying to interpret these things in a way that helps people receive your point of view and perspective, and thereby your influence. It works the same way, and we each have a responsibility in this.
How true this is.
We are dealing with two different powers in this concept. First, the powers of insight. Can we see thru the veneer into what is actually going on? Secondly, the powers of interpretation. Once we see what is going on in the way things really are (regardless of how they appear), we must be able to deduce from this what it means, it’s significance. You have no doubt read books that have highlighted these things. An author that comes to mind immediately is Malcolm Gladwell. The Tipping Point, The Outliers, Blink, and other books he has written are striking examples. And people dig his work, much for the essence of his insight and interpretation. Gladwell has a powerful gift of insight, but, in my opinion, he is getting some of the interpretation wrong. Just because we can see what is happening more clearly than others doesn’t mean that we understand it clearly, or that we can accurately interpret it. In any case, this is the way our minds work. We want to interpret what we see so we can make sense of it.
Those who have and sharpen these capacities, insight and interpretation, hold great impact. Think of Hitler. Incredible impact, incredible destruction thereby. I recently read a book of Churchill’s life. I think he was the other side of the scales during that time; incredible insight and interpretation, stemming the unbridled destruction that Hitler’s influence released.
Gladwell, like all of us, communicates from a position of personal worldview, and, all of us are seeking to validate the legitimacy and primacy of our point of view. Some have bigger platforms than others, but whatever you constantly think and talk about is what you consider central and most important… it’s what you value. There are many purveyors of worldview & thought leadership in the world, so, be very careful how you choose your leaders.
Here’s a quick thought on developing your worldview. As a follower of Christ, YOU HAVE TO begin your perspective with the eternal realm, and work backward toward the natural realm. Starting the other way around, you can’t see things as they are. We must value the eternal beyond the temporal if we are ever to depart from the deception that prevails within the mind of the mass of humanity, those who have not been rescued from the domain of darkness. This is one of the ways our minds are being renewed. Those who are born again can see the Kingdom of God, and can enter that Kingdom. Those who aren’t, can’t.
A quick example of what is valued: In church culture in the US, as well as in other parts of the world, we value entertainment. Much of what comprises church meetings is actually entertainment and/or performance. We are performing for each other. (Does your worship service look more and more like a rock-and-roll show? Well, uhhh…) Speeches are being given, music is being performed. Why are we doing this? Because this is what the culture AT LARGE values. Now, bear in mind, we dress up our entertainment in church to look like substance. We would never be comfortable admitting that we are being entertained. So we spiritualize it, changing the wording used to make it look like something else. Some of our most celebrated leaders are actually the best showmen and show women. We have to get away from this. It does not originate in the truth, but the culture around us.
This is one of the reasons we are ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Consumerism doesn’t have a destination beyond consumption.