Laity Lodge was honored to have as Dr. Michael Lindsay as a speaker at our recent Leaders’ Retreat. Michael is a professor of sociology at Rice University and an award-winning author. His recent book, Faith in the Halls of Power, has been highly acclaimed as a groundbreaking study of Christians who are leaders in business, government, and education.
Michael gave three stirring messages at the retreat:
• The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: When Faith and Power Meet
• Ties that Bind: Leadership and the Common Good
• Faithful Leadership: The Perils and Possibilities of Privilege and Power
His content reflected his in-depth studies of leaders, especially people of faith in positions of substantial power. Michael has interviewed presidents of the U.S., top CEOs, sports starts, media moguls, pastors, and hundreds of other influential people in positions of institutional and cultural leadership.
Speaking the to the Christian leaders gathered at Laity Lodge, Michael challenged us to be a “counter-culture for the common good.” He borrowed this phrase from the Rev. Tim Keller, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Christian leaders are called to a distinctive, kingdom-shaped leadership. Yet we are not merely concerned about ourselves and our families, or even about our churches and businesses. Rather, our leadership is to be “for the common good,” for the betterment of all people. In this way we live out our calling to be salt and light in the world, an assignment given by Jesus himself.
According to Michael Lindsay, different eras of history and different cultures have valued different kinds of leadership. In certain times of history, for example, intellectual depth has been prized in leaders. Today, the ability to communicate effectively in our technology-drenched society is crucial. Yet Michael highlighted the power to convene as a crucial aspect of effective leadership in our day. Those who can gather groups of people to pursue a common vision will be able to impact our world in substantial ways. (This was good news, by the way, for Laity Lodge, where convening is our specialty!)
Though Michael plowed some new ground in his messages at Laity Lodge, you can find many of his insights and illustrations in his outstanding book, Faith in the Halls of Power. This book, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, provides a unique look at scores of leaders who have a solid Christian faith. I highly recommend it.
I hear many speakers throughout the year, at Laity Lodge and elsewhere. Thus, as you might imagine, I can get pretty picky about what I like in a speaker, perhaps even overly critical. Michael Lindsay is undoubtedly one of the most interesting, insightful speakers I have heard in my life. A scholar with strong academic credentials (Ph.D. from Princeton, published his book with Oxford University, assistant professor at Rice), Michael is a superb communicator with all sorts of people. Plus, he’s a friendly, humble human being. It was great to have Michael at Laity Lodge, and I look forward to his next visit.