Monday, October 20, 2008

Parthenocarpic Leadership

In Colossians 1:10 we can see that God is pleased when we are “bearing fruit in every good work.” A recent study caused me to ask the question, “What is the point of fruit? (Other than to make delicious pies that go into my belly?)”

The point of fruit is that it contains seed, the reproductive power of an organism. The Gospel isn’t just an idea, or philosophy, or point in history… it is a living organism. It has in it the power of reproduction, the power of self propagation through its fruit.

So if the point of fruit is seed, and the point of seed is reproduction… it is plain to see that it pleases God for us to be about reproducing our hope, love, and faith through our fruit (through our good work).


Let me ask you this… what is the fanciest “kind” of fruit? What kinds of mutant fruit do we like the best?


We like to eat some seeds, but most fruit seeds we throw away. A friend served one of the best apple pies I’ve ever tasted a couple of nights ago; thankfully there were no apple seeds in it. She would have had an easier time preparing that pie if she had seedless apples (apparently there is such a thing, it is just not common; the technical term is parthenocarpic). While seedless apples are uncommon, seedless berries and watermelons are very common.

While we prize the mutant parthenocarpic plant that produces seedless fruit… I wonder what God thinks of seedless Christians, seedless ministries, and seedless leadership. I wonder if we sometimes make our “fruit” so tasty and appealing, focusing on the sweet flesh of it all, that we produce seedless fruit.

I’d have to say that I’ve observed, and even perpetrated, seedless Christianity. There are times when we are so wrapped up in the sweet, juicy indulgence of the flesh of the thing that we produce mutant, sterile, seedless fruit. Such fruit is certainly tasty, but it has no power to reproduce. If Christianity were allowed go “all seedless”, then, like any organism, it would become extinct within a generation.

We need to be sure that the fruit of our leadership has seed in it; our fruit (at least some or hopefully most of it) needs to contain the power of reproduction.

Friday, October 17, 2008

You can make him drink, but you have to lead a horse to water.

The old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” It is a useful colloquialism when it comes to leadership. It reminds us that people are generally only going to do what they want to do… that you can present an opportunity for folk, but they won’t generally take the opportunity in front of them unless they want to.

But a boss can “make him drink.” Managers often have the authority to dictate… to simply make a decision and issue an edict, thus “making him drink.” These dictates, though, often have little lasting impact and may even instigate a backlash (overt or covert). To mangers who lead by dictate I say, “You can make him drink, but you have to lead a horse to water.”

Leaders lead. There are certainly times when there is danger, emergency, or limited opportunity in which a leader needs to invoke the authority embedded in a chain of command, but for most of us, most of the time, the work of leadership has very little to do with dictate. It is about determining, defining, and delivering a better future.

A dehydrated horse nearing death may need to have its head plunged into the trough for survival, but most horses need to be led to the water, shown the way so that they can enjoy the good water for a long happy life.