The Journey of a Thousand Miles

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“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” The journey of launching this journal has included several false starts. 

The journey of launching this journal has included several false starts. However, we are pleased to finally put this into your hands (or computers). As you will discover, we intend that each of the three feature articles be peer-reviewed. Due to several circumstances, Dr. Tucker’s article was not able to be sufficiently reviewed for publication. We felt it more important to launch this journal at this time rather than to hold up publication any longer. As with all the articles, we solicit your response so that the conversation and practice of leadership can be improved across time and space. As with leadership, we are always soliciting your feedback on how to improve this important contribution. We have included his article because it is foundational to the conversation.

As with any journey, the destination at times determines the nature of the odyssey. Ultimately, those of us who identify ourselves with “Christian” leaders are concerned not only with the process but with the destiny. This tension between journey and destination remains throughout the leadership experience. Ultimately, Christian leaders engage the process of leadership for a prize that goes beyond what we now know. Christian leadership finds its inspiration from something far beyond the limitations of human experience for at last Christian leadership is about eternity. Beyond organizational accomplishments, personal portfolios, or climbing ladders, Christian leadership engages people for the purpose of doing life together. This balance between journey and destination amidst today’s ever-connected world requires an engagement of persons. This engagement and investment in a community-creating journey will advance as far as the unity of those traveling. Yet, this solidarity begs the question of its nature and cohesive response to both the threats and opportunities presented along the way. It is no accident that the final prayer of Jesus with His disciples was for not only their cohesiveness but ours.

Reading Don Frick’s biography of Robert Greenleaf,  I have been struck by Greenleaf’s vision of “leadership” as a pilgrimage and his unwillingness to take for himself the designation “expert.” He saw himself as a pilgrim. The Journal can do no less. It is my firm belief that ultimately growth in leadership derives from the presence of three human factors: the doing, the being, and the community. For the Christian, the Holy Spirit encircles this triangle in a dynamic relationship. There is an ongoing conversation that takes place both within this triangle and between the triangle and the encircling Spirit. Acts 15 demonstrates this interactive relationship between this state of doing, being, community and the activity of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Journal makes no pretense about being the arbitrator or final word in Christian leadership. Our intention is to introduce talking points for those involved in both the practice and understanding of this  journey.

Our name represents three vital components of the journal. “Applied” refers to the centrality of learning as part of the leadership process, a learning that seeks to include more formal ways of knowing like research along with less formal ways of knowing, including the tacit learning of leadership. “Christian” refers to the context of both our practice and understanding. We intend to address the specific context of what leadership means in Christian environments including local churches, denominational organizations, educational centers, and health institutions. Finally, “leadership” refers to a way of being within this specific context. My intention is that leadership in all its simplicity and complexity will be examined against the backdrop of learning and pursing the way of Christ.

Consequently, our inaugural issue is unabashedly theological in nature. Unlike other leadership journals which make no particular claims to pursue a Christ-path, our journal takes the claim of Christian seriously enough to begin the conversation with the relationship between scripture and each component. Each author presents a “talking point,” a place to begin a conversation regarding both the theory and practice of leadership. Thus, Dr. James Tucker examines the question of “applied” by directing the reader to consider the necessary learning involved in leadership. Dr. Martin Hanna opens the second question, pursuing the subject of identifying what is ‘Christian’ regarding ‘Christian leadership.’ Finally, Dr. Forrest Flaniken explores the relationship between the Bible and Robert Greenleaf’s philosophy of servant leadership.

It is our hope that as we set off on this maiden voyage we can encourage a diversity of viewpoints, a multiplicity of disciplines, and a broad range of voices in our attempts to contribute to the wider world of Christianity. For if Christianity is to more rigorously fulfill her divine mandate as outlined in Matthew 24, the ways of leadership must be strengthened in part through a thorough and continuous dialogue of what it means to apply the learnings of leadership in the context of leading in  Christian environments.

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