I love police, lawyer, and political dramas on television and the big screen. Not sure I always like the violence or murders, but I like how the drama is weaved together.
The West Wing, about the presidency of Jeb Bartlett, was a really big favorite. I loved the writing and acting. A few of its episodes are my favorite television shows of all times. I loved West Wing so much my daughter gave me the full collection of 154 segments for Christmas.
Among my favorite police dramas is Blue Bloods. However, it is still hard to look at Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan, the police commissioner, without thinking about Magnum, P.I. (At this point all Millennials can say, “What?” “Who?”.)
The other day I saw a Blue Bloods rerun. It was an episode where the police commissioner was involved in a feud with an African-American pastor, Rev. Darnell Potter. The Mayor of New York City, Carter Poole, was trying to mediate the conflict between the two. Potter demanded a debate to come up with a consensus. It was obvious consensus to him meant for Frank Reagan to agree with him.
Reagan turns to the pastor and says, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” He then walks out. Rev. Potter holds up his hands and looks at Mayor Poole. The Mayor tells him Reagan got him. The quote was from Martin Luther King Jr.
King made this statement as the concluding words of a speech on the Domestic Impact of the War in November 1967 for the National Labor Leadership Assembly for Peace, just four and a half months before his assassination. He was speaking against the war in Vietnam and its negative impact on jobs—especially in the Black community. He was a molder of consensus.
Leaders of Congregational Consensus
Congregations need empowering movements with articulate and risk-taking leaders who are molders of consensus. Anything less is inadequate in a complex, chaordic world. Such movements and leaders are not dictatorial leaders. They are inspirational leaders. They are leaders who do not tell people to get out there and do it. They are leaders who get out there and do it and inspire others to join with them.
Leaders must lead. Leaders need to develop ideas and actions, and then convince others of their value. Leaders do not figure out which way the crowd is running and hurry to get in front of them. Congregational leaders are inspired by God with a vision, and then invite others to become part of the journey knowing that these followers must also be captivated by the vision for a God-inspired journey. Ultimately God leads the journey. God also works through risk-taking leaders to move in the direction of the destination.
A congregation’s pastor alongside other leaders must clearly and consistently cast the vision God has for the congregation. Congregational leaders must mold a consensus for the vision in spite of opposition. When leaders know the rightness of the vision God has given them, and when leaders see that God’s vision has captivated the imagination of the spiritually passionate people in the congregation, they are compelled to move forward.
Leaders can move into a zone where they pick up speed. Their prophetic boldness becomes palpable. They are willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus. They are willing to come and die. While they authentically fear those who oppose them and even want to kill them, they fear more the failure to do the will of God. Yes, they become radicalized.
At the point of radicalization they need more than anything else two or three people who can help them stay within the realm of reality. Otherwise they lose perspective. They create a gap between where they are and where the people are who they are leading.
They need people around them like Leo McGarry. Leo was the Chief of Staff to Jeb Bartlett on The West Wing. He had been the key friend and political ally who helped Bartlett become President of the United States. Leo was a truth-teller. He also knew that when Bartlett was speaking and looked down to his left that he had made a decision and was going to speak with conviction.
Whether the leaders you follow are the fictitious Frank Reagan and Jeb Bartlett, or the real Martin Luther King Jr., the best ones will be the proactive molders of consensus rather than the ones wildly searching for and begging for consensus.