Martin Luther, in his Heidelberg Disputation, wrote that "A theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the cross calls the thing what it actually is." How approriate for a leadership dictum. One of the roles of leadership is to look at the organization and "define reality" - literally to tell it like it is. Too many people want to hear only the good (or how we can make the bad look good). The problem with this is that it confuses people. When I look at an organization that is run poorly...that is in trouble financially...that does not have the right people in place...I know that. No one has to tell me things are wrong, and if the person leading says that things are okay, then what am I to believe (not to mention the trust issues created).
The cross is not a pretty sight - it denotes death and suffering. It is a symbol of torture. It is the place of Christ's death. Yet without the cross, there would be no redemption - no salvation - no hope. The cross defines for Christians the ultimate sacrifice and the ultimate triumph. It is the place God, through his Son Jesus Christ, HAD to go. There was no other easy way. But thanks be to God that he went the way of the cross for us.
So it is with leadership. Leadership has to go down the dificult road in order to make a difference for the institution which it serves. It means having to let people go...even those who have served the institution for many years. It means having to cut products, programs or places...even those that have seemed to define the organization for many years. It means cutting benefits at times, even when people have come to rely on them. It means doing the things that no one else would be willing to do, because it means saving the organization. No, the CEO or president is not a messiah figure, but they have to go down the hard road - and call "evil" what it really is - and make the hard decisions.
Is leadership hard? Absolutely! But it is still not the pain and suffering our Lord went through for us, so that we might have the hope of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!