I initially read this post by Rhett Smith (Rhett fuses leadership and counseling insights) because he used a term that intrigued me when he said, "Leaders are only as 'successful' as their level of differentiation." Here are a few nuggets from the post, that I think connect directly to leading with clarity and vision. His post was sparked by the book, A Failure of Nerve, by  Edwin Friedman 

  • Differentiation is simply ability to “stand on one’s own two feet”, rather than be emotionally fused, or enmeshed with others

  • We are all susceptible to being fused with others, but pastoral leadership can have the inherent danger where pastors often get their sense-of-self from others (i.e. congregants, staff, etc.)

When a leader leads from a strong sense of self, and I would add with clear direction and calling from God, you can see effectiveness of leadership in the following contrasts:

  • Concern for one's personal growth rather than obsessed with technique

  • Matures the system rather then bettering the immediate conditions

  • Is fed up with the treadmill of trying harder rather than focused on the treadmill

  • Seeks enduring change rather than eliminating surface-level annoyances

  • Adapts toward strengths rather than adapting toward the weak

  • Has a universal perspective rather than a reductionist perspective 

In addition to the obvious application to church leadership, these ideas help me appreciate the day of Memorial as an American citizen. We stand on the blessed ground of freedom, because of the perspective, strength, and enduring change provided by sacrifice of many who led without a failure of nerve. My gratitude is heightened by the exposure to the History Channel's America: The Story of Us. I highly recommend it.