Tag Archives: leaders

Able to Spot Their Priests

Story of the Day for Friday February 10, 2012

Able to Spot Their Priests

                    Remind everyone to submit to leaders and those in authority, to be obedient, and ready to do whatever is good.

                                                                   Titus 3:1

 The silence was eerie.  After the Korean War, about eighty American prisoners of war were recovering at the army hospital in Tokyo. The former POWs would talk to the doctors, but even though these soldiers had spent three years together in prison and knew each other intimately, they wouldn’t talk with each other.


The treatment of POWs by the communist Koreans was insidiously effective. The prison camps had no guard towers, no electric fences, no search lights or guard dogs. A prison camp holding between 500 to 600 American prisoners was guarded by a mere half dozen guards. Yet, not one American soldier ever escaped.

The North Korean’s strategy was to demoralize their prisoners, and to accomplish their objective, they began by isolating the leaders. Officers were removed from their men and put in “reactionary camps.” After the officers were segregated, they kept a keen eye out for anyone assuming a leadership role and removed them.

Once the leaders were gone, they created distrust among everyone else. Informants who reported the misdeeds of fellow prisoners were rewarded with cigarettes, candy, or special privileges. But those who were tattled on were never punished. Everyone seemed to profit.

Soon, however, everyone became psychologically isolated. No one trusted anyone else.

The communists knew well what Americans can easily forget: the loss of leadership can devastate a group. When no one exists to encourage, inspire, and maintain a spirit of unity, group members attack each other and look to their own self-interests.

Almost forty percent of the American POWs died in prison — the highest death rate of American prisoners in any war since the American Revolution. The reason for the high mortality rate was neither torture nor malnutrition, but a lack of morale. The prisoners called it “Give-up-itis.” Without leadership, no one chose to resist the enemy. No one worked together. No one took responsibility for his comrade.  After their release, they wouldn’t even talk to each other.


Fighting alongside the U.S. in the Korean War were the Turks. They, too, had many POWs. They, too, had their officers isolated. Yet, none of them died of natural causes. As soon as one leader was taken to a “reactionary camp,” another soldier filled his position of leadership. The leaders held the troops together.  As a result, they shared their rations, cared for their sick, and remained loyal to each other.

Years ago, Christians in Uganda were being purged. A missionary society in England asked an Episcopal bishop in Uganda what they could do to help. Did they need food? Medicine?

The bishop replied that they didn’t need food or medicine; they needed 250 clerical collars. “You must understand,” he said, “when our people are being rounded up to be shot, they must be able to spot their priests.”

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)


Holler Warnings and Encouragement

Story of the Day for Saturday June 4, 2011

Holler Warnings and Encouragement

                   If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall in a pit. 

                                                                        Matthew 15:14

Leaders are the nucleus of any organization. “Nucleus” is the Latin word for “nut.”  So, if you want to be a leader, it means you have to be . . .

You know something? This isn’t exactly the direction I had hoped this conversation would take. But, since we’re here, we might as well stir things up a little.

The Leadership Movement has been a major theme in recent years – both in the corporate world and in the church. We have learned that leaders must “have a vision” and must confidently guide the masses through “paradigm shifts” into the future.

I’m all for this. Yet, it misses the central core of true leadership.

Stuart Briscoe tells of the time a military veteran died. Some of his fellow vets wanted to have a part in the service at the funeral home, so they asked the pastor to lead them down the aisle to the casket for a solemn moment of remembrance, and then lead them out through the side door at the front.

The service went well until the pastor led them away from the casket. Instead of leading them out the side door, he marched them all into a broom closet – in full view of all the mourners.

What is a leader? Someone who inspires others? Someone who communicates clear goals and motivates others to follow him? Is a great leader someone who can rally the masses around a central vision?

If this is what makes a magnetic leader, then one of the greatest leaders in history is Adolf Hitler. He galvanized a nation, yet, tragically, led them into the darkest days of their history.

The primary requirement of a leader has nothing to do with charisma or “casting vision.” The foremost quality of a leader is that he knows where he’s going.

Jesus warns us that, whenever we follow someone who doesn’t know where they’re going, we’ll all wind up in the broom closet.

We shouldn’t follow leaders who are blind, because, sooner or later, we’ll all stumble into a pit. But the responsibility of avoiding pits and broom closets doesn’t rest with the leader; it rests with us. Jesus doesn’t want leaders to be blind, but he doesn’t want followers to be blind either. It’s up to us to see where the Lord wants us to go, and then find the leader who is willing walk at the front of the line and holler warnings of potential hazards and encouragement until we reach the next watering hole.

To follow a leader who isn’t doing this for us is . . . nuts.

                                       (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)