Willow Creek, Leadership, and Problem-Focused Solutions

American culture currently finds itself smack-dab in the middle of what we could easily call, the age of accountability. Lapses of judgement (to put it lightly) of the present day, to those dating back years, or event decades, are now being revealed in mass. While this often causes tension, frustration, and confusion for both the 'offended' and the 'offender,' it's easy to conclude that a healthy culture needs accountability on display.

You may or may not be up to speed on the recent happenings of Willow Creek, a Chicagoland area mega-church that has just experienced a significant leadership shift- for good reason. I have been following this story closely, as I am originally from this region and am in vocational church ministry myself.

Click here for an article that is a pretty good sum-up of the situation (at the time of this post's writing), with links to other details if you'd be interested

A Central Theme: Failure of Leadership

The kind of accountability that we have seen expressed in recent months generally comes from a scenario in which leadership, individual and/or corporate, was flawed. An individual or corporation inappropriately misused their leadership and influence, and perhaps it was covered up for some time. Regardless of the situation, failed leadership is a central theme.

This is, in part, what makes the Willow Creek situation so difficult to digest. Out of the ministry of the church has emerged an organization called The Willow Creek Association and their premier event: The Global Leadership Summit. In its over twenty-year history, the GLS has now swelled to an influence of nearly 500,000 participants, in over 135 countries, in 60 different languages.

What was unknown by most has now been recently revealed; that at the core of this organization was repeated situations of failed leadership. Inappropriate behavior, cover-ups, and the like. The concept that the organization hung its hat on- leadership- has now become its demise.

Problem-Focused Solutions

Every problem needs a solution, right? Particularly in this situation, where there are not only dozens of people directly hurt by the failed leadership, but, where there are millions (literally) of people who have been in some way, shape, or form, influence by this church and organization, now left asking; "What the heck are we supposed to do with this?"

There is a kind of response that would seem logical in this situation. "If leadership is the thing that failed, then the leadership needs to get addressed/fixed/made better." For the purposes of this post, I'd like to call this a problem-focused solution: a solution that is crafted and birthed directly out of the problem itself. Leadership fails- fix the leadership. Communication fails- fix the communication. You get the idea, and, this is a logical place to go.

But let me ask this question: In light of all of this, is another leadership-summit-type event exactly what we need right now to most adequately address this problem?

It could, perhaps, be both beneficial and wise to look someplace other than the theme of the problem itself when looking for a solution.

The 'Heart' of the Problem

At the heart (or, core) of every individual lapse in leadership is the heart of a human being. At the heart of every corporate cover-up is a system, ideology, reputation, and status quo.

I would contend that the heart of a problem, not necessarily the problem itself, should be the starting-point for the journey toward a solution, and hopefully, restorative justice.

(Click here to read what I mean by restorative justice, particularly paragraph four)

At the heart of physically and socially inappropriate interpersonal encounters is, perhaps, arrogance, pride, lust, misplaced power, corruption, unresolved sin, deceit, and anger (and the list could go on).

Do '4 Leadership Tips' improve this situation?

Maybe what is needed is a complete overhaul of the mind of what is appropriate, healthy, and moral.

Perhaps you find yourself in a position of fear. Fear of the lingering problem, whatever the problem is, and that it could 'get you too.' Then, the mantra becomes something like, "Avoid any potential threat of the problem." Fear perpetuates, influences judgement, and perhaps we slip. Well, that solution didn't work either.

Because the heart of the problem was never addressed.

Address the heart of the problem. Diagnose the foundation. Rethink the journey ahead.