Yesterday I covered the idea that good leadership is thoughtful. I covered the idea that thoughtfulness is two-sided. It is able to both plan for the future and react well in the moment. This balance is not easily achieved, but the more one works toward it, the more life improves. The man who can lead with a combination of wise planning and reaction positions himself to lead his family, church, and coworkers well. Yet this is not all a good leader needs.
He needs to couple his ability to think thoughtfully with a certain visionary instinct. Look at the great leaders in history, and you will see that they share an ability to think creatively when no one else is. The changes they propose need not be incredibly complex, but do need to be forward-thinking. In fact, the great leaders of history often proposed simple ideas that threw a little cataclysm into the machine. No one saw them coming–no one, that is except the visionaries of history. Luther thought the necessity of justification by faith when others merely felt it. Wilberforce agitated for the abolition of the English slave trade when other Christians simply shook their heads and clucked their tongues. J. Gresham Machen led the Presbyterians out of the flagging PCUSA when other Presbyters threw up their hands in frustration. Good leaders are often a bit strange, often a little off, but it is usually only because they live a little bit in the future when the rest of us are stuck in the present.
The qualities of good leadership that I’ve proposed work in concert. To be forward-thinking, one must be principled. To be forward-thinking and make a difference, one must be courageous. It is the pairing of visionary thinking and courage especially, I think, that is potent. When a man can think for himself, see what others are not seeing, and then step up to point out his findings, he is a powerful man indeed, for he can be used to change the minds and hearts of many. Add in a little persuasion and charm, and men like that can change the world. We can look to our familiar example, Christ, for the utmost picture of visionary thinking. He brought the message of the kingdom when all others were mired in the dungeon of works-righteousness. He is the ultimate visionary. If you doubt me on the importance of visionary thinking on this or other examples, take a good, long look at history. And then–do yourself a favor. Look to the future, and tell us what you see.