How can powerful leaders be effective and responsible?
In a 2009 Journal of Religious Leadership article, Laity Leadership Senior Fellow D. Michael Lindsay wrote that evangelicals populate halls of power, but generally “have no theological framework for managing the privileges that accompany the mantle of public leadership.” He then outlined a theology of power that can help us consider how to wield power effectively and responsibly.
“Christians in public leadership would be wise to pursue their lives in ways different from the dominant culture, especially in terms of their consumption practices and workplace politics,” he said. Lindsay drew this conclusion after analyzing anecdotal evidence that suggests “whatever suspicions non-religious colleagues may have of these Christians emerge not from hostility toward the teachings of Jesus but from the lifestyles of those who claim to be his followers.”
For example, two business leaders, MCI WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and Enron Corporation CEO Kenneth Lay, have been depicted as notoriously corrupt. Yet both were active in their churches. Conversely, when Tyco International needed to “renew its commitment to ethics, it hired Eric Pillmore as senior vice president of corporate governance. Obviously, Pillmore’s faith and work is the public witness we want to emulate. But how do we ground such a witness theologically?