Some Thoughts - Leadership and Values

Paul Hoffman

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I took a course in social deviance several years ago. What this course helped me understand is that societies and cultures have their own definitions of values and they exist on a continuum. Anything outside the boarders of the continuum is deviant. In relation to values, both ultraliberal and ultraconservative are inappropriate values within the society or culture’s definition. The problem with this is how one society and another define the same value.

When one experiences a significant emotional event it may tear the fabric of their values leaving them with the options you identify of confirmation, rejection, or modification. Further, when one wants to assimilate into a new culture, one tends to accept the values of that culture in spite of ones acculturated values.

We have evidence of this from our study of Paul’s letters last term. Paul had the option to reject his calling. He did modify his values accepting the values of the new sect growing out of Jerusalem.

We read an interesting argument in Joas (2000) on self and values. We base our value system on how we define ourselves, a declaration of what we commit to and from what we distance ourselves. Therefore, our self-defining becomes a “strongly valued good" (pg. 130). We make qualitative distinctions on our actions creating a value preference self-defining what is important.

Joas’ suggestion takes into account life-long development of values through interaction with others. Johnson (2005) writes of casting light that spiritual development goes through several stages. At the primal level, spiritual development is of trust of parents and caregivers. Progressing, one begins to internalize beliefs and values of family and those barrowed from others, until one has an “individuative-reflective faith" (pg 111) of doubt and question. At mid-life, one accepts others’ beliefs and values and may reach the stage “universalizing faith" (pg. 112) desiring to serve a greater good beyond oneself.

In a biblical world view, both seem supporting Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11, “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. "

Joas (2000) opens us to a new level of value development through the internalizing of new experiences and “interpretation of complex activity in which we strive for harmony…" (pg. 135). Values change based on experience coupled with new experiences and new “ways of life and practices" (pg. 135).

Leaders within organizations who are founded spiritually display inward, outward, and corporate disciplines that aid in developing new values in workers. Inward values include disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. Outward disciplines involve simplicity, solitude, submission, and service. Corporate disciplines shown by leaders are confession, worship, guidance, and celebration. Johnson (2005) presents these 12 disciplines of individual and corporate values as a way to seek a level of leader servanthood.

Compare Joas and Johnson with the spiritual gifts found in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, the similarity is striking.


Holy Bible: New International Version Joas, H. (2000). The Genesis of Values. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Johnson, C. E. (2005). Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership: Casting Light or Shadow. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publishers.


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