I came across this cartoon on Facebook the other day and just about spit my coffee on my computer's keyboard. In an age of so much technology - most of which I really like - there has become a disconnect when it comes to interpersonal relationships.
Like the illustration above addresses, technology has antiquated our commonly accepted terminology and replaced it with more postmodern definitions. For instance:
• Status Update - Used to mean where you are currently in a relationship. Now it means typing into the Internet any mundane thing you've done in the past five minutes ago so the whole world can hear about it.
• Follow - Used to mean attaching yourself to someone on influence for the purpose of learning from them. Now it means adding someone to an internet list so that you can keep up with their status updates.
• Friends - Used to refer to people who you share life with because they have significant purpose and meaning to you. Now it refers to a huge list of people that you have connected with electronically but don't really know.
• Retweet - Used to mean what Elmer Fudd would yell as he fled into the woods. Okay, that was bad, but I think you get my point.
There are lots of ways to make connections and network with others today and I am a fan and active participant in many of those mediums. Yet on the sacrificial altar of this convenience lies the battered and broken body of personal and authentic relationships. Real human contact still matters.
Even the most ardent of Twitter and Facebook users would admit that we can't survive well without personal interaction with others. You can text your boyfriend or girlfriend sweet and cuddly words, but you better not break up via text. How much respect would you have for a company if, after a lengthy interview process, they posted a job offer on your Facebook wall?
There are just some situations in life where modern impersonal technology is just no substitute for the real thing. Leadership falls into that arena. While I hope that my Facebook updates and blog posts inspire you, they are no substitute for face-to-face interaction that I could give to you.
So what does this "real" leadership look like?
• It's incarnational, which means that the leader places himself right there in the mix with those whom he is leading.
• It's personal, relying on relationships and in person communication for lending guidance.
• It's transformational in that real leadership has as it's goal positive and healthy growth in those who the leader is mentoring.
• Finally, real leadership is transactional, which means that not only does the leader give of himself but he also readily receives input from those he leads.
Let me sum this up with one more illustration. As a father, I want to aid my children in succeeding academically. I can do this by maintaining regular email contact with their teachers so that I can make sure I am on top of all their assignments. I can also use the school website to track their grades in each subject. Both of these are valuable tools that I use, but neither is a substitute for sitting down each day and reviewing my children's homework with them, walking with them through homework problems and helping them to solve problems and issues that they face each day.
If Jesus was still on earth in the flesh today He might just have a Twitter account, but I'm pretty sure He would only Tweet those things He had already taken the time to share with us personally.