A Few Things Church Leaders Can Learn from Vaclav Havel

I came across an article about Vaclav Havel in The Economist. I was particularly struck by the last paragraph: “It was Mr Havel’s genius that he not only toppled communism, but offered a way out of its ruins that all could follow: calming nerves, laying ghosts and precluding revenge. He had a better claim to resentment than most. But he showed no sign of being burdened by the past. He was far happier about things that had gone successfully than cross about those that had gone wrong. Although humble enough to know he was not a perfect man, he was confident that his ideas were right. His favourite motto summed it up: ‘Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.’ Read the whole article here.

I was struck by several things related to church life: first, church leaders do sometimes get treated badly by church, and it can be easy to get annoyed if not resentful. Of course, we expect better behavior from the church than from a communist regime. Yet clinging to old hurts does not help us, and does not help the church. Secondly, being happier about what’s gone right than “cross” (love that British-ism) about what’s gone wrong is an easier and more productive way to live and lead. It’s all to easy to zero in on the failures and limitations of ourselves and others. But does it really help us move forward? Finally, a balance between humility and confidence is essential for leadership.

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