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Leadership lessons from The Bachelor

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Chris Soules proposed to Whitney Bischoff on the season finale of The Bachelor. (Credit: ABC)

This week a farmer named Chris Soules proposed to a young woman named Whitney Bischoff.  Why is this news?  Because he was the star of TV’s The Bachelor, and she was one of two finalists to be his wife.  Why did he choose her?  According to ABC News, she was much more committed to life with Chris than the other finalist.  She appealed to his family in Iowa, assuring them she was prepared to move to his hometown and become a mom.  In other words, she became what he wanted her to be.

Next we consider an Italian neurosurgeon who claims he will be able to transplant a living human head onto a donor body within two years.  Dr. Sergio Canavero offers a caveat, however: “If society doesn’t want it, I won’t do it.  Before going to the moon, you want to make sure people will follow you.”

Meanwhile, McDonald’s is reporting a four percent decline in domestic same-store sales for February.  One reason: competitors offer customized menu options, while McDonald’s doesn’t.  By contrast, specialty beauty retailers Sephora and Ulta allow consumers to test virtually any product and carry a large assortment of niche brands.  They are posting spectacular growth as a result.

The Bachelor, a head-transplanting neurosurgeon, McDonald’s and beauty retailers—what’s the common thread?  Leadership.  For generations now, our culture has taught us that truth is what we say it is.  According to one study, 92 percent of Americans say they are their own, sole determiner of moral truth. (Tweet this)  In such a relativistic culture, effective leadership is less about persuading people to do what we say, and more about helping them meet their needs and achieve their goals in the most worthwhile way.

In Christian context, effective leaders seek to advance God’s Kingdom by meeting felt needs, earning the right to meet spiritual needs.  They do not compromise the message of God’s authoritative word, but adapt the methods by which they explain the message.  Paul quoted Scripture when speaking in synagogues, and philosophers when speaking to philosophers.  He became “all things to all people” in order to help them follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:22).

How can we be more effective in leading our culture to our Christ?  I want to suggest two resources.  First, Dr. Michael Lindsay and I are leading a symposium in Dallas titled, “Elevate Your Contribution: Faithful Leadership that Makes a Difference.”  Dr. Lindsay is president of Gordon College, author of multiple works on leadership, and a dear personal friend.  The symposium will be held at Dallas Theological Seminary on March 19.  I hope you’ll register to attend, or pray for us if you cannot.

Second, the Denison Forum website now publishes a weekday news briefing.  Written by Nick Pitts, it overviews the morning news with analysis and comments.  I hope you’ll use it as you engage culture with the good news of God’s love.

In John 4, Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well.  She came for water, so he began their conversation by talking about water.  He then led her to the “living water” only he can give.  Who will be your Samaritan woman today?