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Richard Sherman: the rant heard ’round the world

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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Richard Sherman on an epic rant during a post-game interview with Erin Andrews, after the 2014 NFC Championship game in Seattle, January 19, 2014 (Credit: Fox Sports)

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<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/s5cztgIDrfk?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}Richard Sherman continues to dominate the news, five days after his Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC Championship.  He was interviewed immediately after making the game-saving play.  His shouting rant against Michael Crabtree, the 49ers wide receiver he was guarding, went viral almost immediately.  He has been described as a fool, classless jerk, and much worse.

It turns out Sherman graduated second in his high school class, earned a degree in communications from Stanford University, and has begun a Masters degree at Stanford.  He wrote a very articulate blog after the game in which he explained his rant: after his team won, “I ran over to Crabtree to shake his hand but he ignored me.  I patted him, stuck out my hand and said, ‘Good game, good game.’  That’s when he shoved my face, and that’s when I went off.'”  He also notes that when a 49ers player was injured, “I dropped to a knee and prayed for him.”

I’m not writing today to defend or criticize Richard Sherman, but to make the point that reality is often more contradictory and counter-intuitive than it appears.  For example, David Rothkopf claims in a recent Foreign Policy essay that the most transformational development of the last 25 years is not the fall of the Soviet Union or the attacks of 9/11.  Rather, it is the proliferation of cell phones—from 12 million in 1990 to some 7 billion today—and the social networks they have enabled.  Politics, medicine, finance, even religion are being transformed by the mobile phone in your pocket.

Today I’m speaking at Greater Dallas Movement Day, a gathering to seek city transformation as Christian communities work together for the common good.  Some 1,500 believers from various socio-economic and denominational segments of our city will look for proactive, positive ways we can impact human trafficking, childhood poverty, literacy, orphan care, and a variety of other issues.  We seek to meet felt need to meet spiritual need, earning the right to preach the gospel in works and words.

My track is titled, “Gospel Movements and Servant Leaders: Changing the Culture for the Kingdom.”  We will explore the counter-intuitive proposal that leaders must serve to lead.  Some leaders are “positional,” leading by virtue of their title.  Some are “charismatic,” leading by force of personality.  Some are “transactional,” leading by offering or withholding finances and other rewards.  But effective leaders are “transformational,” leading followers to achieve a common vision for the good of the organization and its community.  Such leaders must show that their leadership serves the needs and hopes of their followers.  Only then will others join them in fulfilling their shared vision.

J. Oswald Sanders, in his now-classic Spiritual Leadership, claims that “true greatness, true leadership, is found in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you.”  It seems contradictory to serve if you would lead, but Jesus’ example is our imperative: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).

Whom will you serve next?