The other day I watched a bit of TV. The History Channel was running a movie about D-Day from Eisenhower’s perspective. In the scene I just happened to catch before I was off to provide taxi service for one of my kids, the leaders of the Allied Forces were around a small table. Eisenhower, being played by Tom Selleck, sans moustache, is taking them through a process of considering all the weather data and other logistical information to determine if they would launch the invasion in June and in just a few hours or wait for the next window of opportunity in July. The weather was making giving the order to proceed with the operation seem a little dodgy. Half the commanders were saying, “Screw it, let’s do it!” and the other half were saying, “Once we initiate we lose the element of surprise, we’ve got to decide wisely if it’s now or if we wait but we can’t decide half-way across the channel.”
They disband for some rest and the story follows Ike to his room where he sits and smokes and contemplates but doesn’t sleep. Finally his alarm goes off to wake him up and he slowly reaches over to turn it off. He recognizes that it’s not just a bell to wake him, it’s a wee bell that is signaling the start of a massive military operation that will cost many lives and save many more. He returns to the staging room and the leaders assemble again around their little table and hear the latest weather forecast. “Once more,” Ike says, “around the table gentleman. I command you but you command the troops who will be on the frontlines of this battle. I want to hear what you think.” Each leader of the various forces involved offers their opinion. Some very for, some supportive but mindful of the cost to their particular unit, and one still hesitant.
“Gentleman,” General Eisenhower says, “I give you the order. Commence the operation.” The leaders scatter and word goes out and hours and hours before the first shot is fired, Operation Overlord commences. Ike is now alone except for one of his assistants who says something to him about his great role in this war. Ike’s response, “It’s just like Churchill said about me, before I gave the order I was the most powerful man on earth. But now that I’ve given the order, I’m just a spectator. It’s a corporal on the Nevada, a private on Omaha that will win this battle, they’re the ones making history.”
I know you can’t trust the History Channel for telling you what really happened, but if Ike said anything even closely resembling those things, if he was anything like that, I like Ike. And I can understand why he was the leader he was and why he commanded the troops there and then. And I think that’s the kind of leadership we need more of in the church.
We need leaders who can understand the influence that they have, the lives their decisions will affect, and who recognize that their primary role is in influencing the influencers, not in telling everyone what to do. We need leaders who consult and allow room and even welcome differing view points. We need leaders who don’t decide what everyone is doing and then just tell them what to do. We need leaders who are kept up at night (smoking optional) by the responsibility they have been given to take care of what’s been given to them by God and by the people who choose to work with them. We need leaders who understand their role and the roles others play as well. We need leaders in these days who see their role and understand that it’s not about them but about all the people who live the Kingdom 24/7 who are the real heroes.
So what I’m wondering today is, where are you?