Commentary Is Not Leadership

Commentary Is Not Leadership

Greetings friends and family in Jesus Christ.  Sadly, more Local Churches in the Southwest District are reporting cases of COVID-19 and being required to reclose and quarantine.  This Superintendent supports the choice of the Pastor and Local Board to make the decision about reopening and under what conditions.  The challenge is difficult, and I am not going to second guess choices made by those in leadership who have more facts and stronger opinions regarding local circumstances than me.  Let there be no mistake, I do recommend following sound health practices and using commonsense in making those choices.  Personally, I am doing what I can to not expose those of my family who are high-risk to assemblies of people for extended periods of time.  Please continue to pray for our members, friends, and families as they endure the consequences of these challenging times.  Mary and my youngest daughter’s grandfather-in-law died of COVID-19 this past weekend.  Their family appreciates your prayers.  The total at the beginning of July 2020 shows 10.4+ Million cases and 510,164 known deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.  Of those numbers the USA owns 2.6+ million known cases and 127,460 deaths known to be caused by the coronavirus.


You are encouraged to join the SWD leadership as it helps Local Churches establish better service options for our membership and friends of the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day).  The debate about whether online / social media options are real church services or not is a moot point.  In some cases, there is not another option now, other than to not participate in fellowship with one another.  I believe the debate is over preference, and I understand that.  But hoping to live in the Whitehouse and refusing to be a candidate for the presidency is an empty hope.  Likewise, criticism of those who are working to provide the best services they can in these circumstances and also claiming only fellowship within the four-walls of a Local Church is real services are not helpful in places where assembly is not an option.  Find ways to accomplish the Great Commission, making disciples for our Lord even in these troubling times, and to fulfill the Great Commandment.  Focus On Jesus and Follow His Plan.


Sam Rainer produced a quality blog on the comparison and contrast of Commentators and Leaders.  I did not immediately offer it to you because of a comment he made on leadership not being only influence, which is true incidentally.  But his remark, without making any reference to Dr. John Maxwell, is so famous a teaching of Maxwell, I believed I should make a remark to show we understand there is a difference in what the two men are saying.  The direction Sam Rainer goes with it is slightly different than the point John Maxwell was making.  So, don’t be confused when you get to his remark that leadership is more than influence and read past that for the more pertinent points he is making in the article.  If we were farmers in the wheat harvest which is finishing up here in the center part of the U.S., I would tell you to be a combine, harvest the grain and dispose of the chaff.  


I want to share an illustration with you regarding the difference between the point Sam Rainer is making and the long-standing point John Maxwell has made for many years.  Even Sam Rainer’s point on influence is a good point, if one does not confuse it directly with what Maxwell was saying about influence being the measure of one’s leadership.  Maxwell’s point was if one does not have influence then one does not have much leadership.  For instance, water is often measured in gallons.  Now, indeed, gallons are not water.  However, if you are watering cattle in a 10’ round watering tank capable of holding over 1,000 gallons of water and you have no gallons of water, then neither can your watering tank serve those cattle.  On the other hand, if you are boasting you have 1,000 gallons, but it turns out those gallons are not water, perhaps it is air or petroleum, then the cattle still don’t have any water to drink.  So, please read Sam Rainer’s blog with mature minds to get the good points he makes.


As valuable as commentary can be, and the leader sometimes offers commentary, we are called to be leaders.  The main point is to not allow ourselves to become great Monday morning quarterbacks (football commentary) or precise critics of others’ work, declaring the useless “I told you so”.  We are to be engaged as soldiers of the cross in the fields of our Lord.  Looking smart enough to know what the other person is not doing right and able to eloquently articulate commentator’s remarks of facts and opinions is not leadership, as Sam Rainer so skillfully discusses in his blog which is included for you below.


The Difference Between Being a Commentator and a Leader

Blog by Sam Rainer, June 23, 2020


“Commentary is popular right now. Some of the biggest names in news are opinionated commentators, not fact-driven beat reporters. With social media, anyone can comment about an issue, regardless of qualifications. Ironically, more data exists now than ever before, yet we still rely heavily on the opinions and comments of others.


Obviously, the popularity of commentary is not in itself a bad thing. You are reading this post, and I hope you keep reading. The ability for the people to produce thoughts en masse does have advantages, most notably that it is no longer possible for a few in power to control narratives. 

But commentary is not leadership. Just because a great conversation is occurring does not mean leadership is happening. I fear we might confuse the two. This confusion occurs because we’ve reduced leadership to mere influence. Leadership is not just influence. A marketing campaign is influential, and it may even lead you to purchase a product. But that’s not leadership. 


Both commentary and leadership are needed. Sometimes they overlap—a commentator may also be a leader. But here is how they are different. 


Commentators have fewer filters. Leaders must act as statesmen. Commentators benefit the public because they can offer unfiltered observations. They can think aloud and speculate. As statesmen, leaders must be careful with words because errant remarks can cause harm. For example, a financial analyst may predict a 20% drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Such commentary could profit listeners. But if the President of the United States made the same prediction, then global markets would tank. 


Commentators offer an outside perspective. Leaders maintain the inside perspective. The purpose of a commentator is to bring an outside viewpoint. Even though commentators are often anything but impartial voices, their perspectives do help bring balance to leadership. The responsibility of a leader, however, is to serve a particular organization, company, or church. In this way, their energy is dedicated to helping lead those on the inside. 


Commentators build an audience. Leaders inherit followers. Commentators may write blogs or books, produce podcasts, or utilize a variety of media to broadcast a message. This message goes to an audience. Those who listen to a commentator choose to do so because they like (or respect) the message. On the other hand, leaders often have little choice in followers. If you are a new pastor, then you get those who are already at the church. They may or may not choose to listen. 


Commentators speak truth today. Leaders guide people towards the future. Commentators may speculate about the future, but the message is for today. Commentary’s value is in its short-term nature. Hard truth today is beneficial. Leaders have a longer-term perspective, though they may deal with short-term fires. The value of leadership is in the longer timetable required to move people towards future goals.


Both commentary and leadership have value. However, the two should not be confused. Commentary can be influential, but leadership is more than influence.”


Sam Rainer

President & Senior Coach

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.

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