The Alpha Leader Is Not What You Think (#576)

This is the first podcast Wayne and Brad have done since the movie release, so they begin with some of the reactions they are getting from people, both those who love it and those who react against it. They talk about why religious people carry so much pain and genuinely want people to be punished. Is it just coincidence that Jesus faced the same kind vitriol from the religious people of his day? Many do find grace offensive, and they find convincing other they are right is more important than loving people in their pain. What a contrast the leadership style of Jesus presents to the religious leaders of his day and many in ours! Wayne reads a NY Times article about what an alpha leader really is and the answer will surprise you.

Podcast Notes:
Think You Know What “Alpha Male” Means? These Wolves Will Prove You Wrong
You can find our latest update on our work in Kenya here.
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  1. Grace…

    A nationally-known radio host, when asked on his show how he is doing, always says, ‘Better than I deserve.’ That is his definition of grace.

    A pastor and author I used to follow, since passed away, recalled a story about a college class he once took in which the professor decided to give everyone an ‘A’ before the class even started. Some took the ‘A’ for granted, never showing up for class the rest of the term. But it led this certain pastor and author to learn more in this professor’s class than he ever would’ve learned otherwise. His definition of grace, ‘Not a license to loaf, but the power to perform.’

    I’m glad you Brad, made the point that it is up to us to respond to God’s offer of grace to make it happen, which runs counter to universalist thought, that everyone experiences God’s grace whether they accept God or not. I can give grace to someone until I am blue in the face, but without God’s power, in the eyes of the other person, it becomes an opportunity for endorsement. Regardless whether I accept the person in their sin, or not.

    Many Christians form of ‘love’ is conditional acceptance. They love the person, but not the sin. But until we love the person in their sin, God doesn’t have an opportunity to move in that person’s life. For me, it takes restraint. I don’t suddenly see sin as not sin, but I don’t have to name it every time I see it. Deep down the person knows. I love and accept the person for who they are, even if it doesn’t have an impact on their life. That is exactly how God loves us. And, after time, if we don’t respond, He lets us go. That is God’s form of punishment, not wrath, but simply, letting us go into our own confusions. As you Wayne, have said, sin is its own punishment.

  2. Very interesting article on the Alpha Male. The only value the “dictator” style has is the the dictator enjoys treating people badly! The colaborative leader gets results!

  3. Wayne, Did I understand you to say that, as a kid, you were unhappy doing your religious duties? You didnt want to be in church meetings over the weekend “bored to death”? That you really wished you were playing soccer, etc?

    • You know how the ol’ religious performance thing goes. Some days loving it because it makes you feel important and superior to others, and other days bored to death and frustrated with it because it doesn’t yield the fruit it promises. I don’t remember if I said anything specific about that on this podcast, but you’ve probably heard me talk out of both sides of my mouth about those days. Because some days being the best performer was pretty intoxicating and on others the whole religious trap was so incredibly bbbbbooooooorrrrrrriiiiiiinnnnnnnggggg.

      • Incredibly boring is my experience also! At times, performing through knowing more than others was my security, and at other times I remember thinking, “Is this the most exciting life gets? Because if it is, life is boring ’cause I got it all figured out, and all I have to look forward to is heaven.” Those days of self-righteousness found in knowing more seem like a dark and distant nightmare. Oh, I am sure there is more of that sanctimonious crap still in me than I am aware of, however, life is no longer boring. In fact, it is much more adventurous in the last year and half than I want!

    • Wow. I can sure relate to that. I remember as a 6-year-old looking out the front entry of my church. From there I had an unimpeded view of the first fairway of the local golf course. After sitting through Sunday School and church [2 1/2 – 3 hours], golf was where I wanted to be. My parents wouldn’t allow sports on Sundays, and I grew up in a northern climate, so golf was the first sign of spring – brown grass, frozen bunkers and all. I grew up believing that somehow God would reward me for my ‘faithfulness,’ especially if I was giving up something I desperately wanted. And that my ‘sacrifices’ made me somehow superior to others.

      I grew up SERVING a God who was a king, the ultimate Alpha male. A God who would punish those who didn’t go to church and reward those who sacrificed like me. Then it got competitive, as in who could sacrifice the most and rub everybody else’s nose in it. Like you, Jim, knowing more ABOUT God than anyone else around me, and being sure I was right, and assured I had my ticket to heaven punched. Not unlike the Jews of Jesus’ day. “You search the scriptures, thinking that IN THEM you will have life, but you will not come to me, so that you can actually HAVE LIFE.”

      How many times does the prophecy tell us that the king, the ultimate Alpha male will come, but that he will “shepherd my people,” and “be a servant to all?’ Obviously we don’t understand leadership. The shepherd knows all 100 by name, and leaves the 99 to rescue the one that’s lost. The servant will go through a cross to reconcile all of humanity. The ultimate Alpha male has come, he’s personal, he knows me by name, and he is particularly fond of me. I’ll follow him anywhere, because I can’t help it. He knows me. Enough said.

      • Thanks Craig. And yes, I think he is “particularly fond” of you!

  4. Totally love the story of the girl who met Jesus prior to her operation and “recognized” him in the movie. The playfulness of the trinity really impacted me when first reading the book… now I catch glimpses of it in my day-to-day life which I find highly enjoyable

  5. I came to God one night and shared with Him all the honest things in my mind/heart about my relationship with my mother. She battles alcoholism and from a child into adulthood there was let down after let down, abuse and neglect. I came to Him, shared the honest things inside that were so ugly…that I even wanted her to die such as in one of the times she drives drunk…I just wanted it to end. I didn’t pray for that but I came to Him to work these thoughts out with Him as that is what I thought I wanted and my husband said it’s not Gods heart to want death as He is a God of Life. Well, He came to me and counseled me as He is the Best Counselor and did not condemn me or shocked by my honesty but GENTLY came to me and said, “You don’t want her to die…you want the pain to die”. This response leads me more and more in love with God Who can accept my pain and not reject me yet HELP me. And His response to me set me free…free from my own condemnation I was putting on myself for having these thoughts.

  6. Movie feedback.
    I did not think justice could reasonably be done to the movie for any one who read the book, nor any fair idea of what the book was about to a non reader, but you did a great job at both. The Holy Spirit’s power is all over the movie. Thank you for making it.

  7. As always, thanks for your thoughts. I cannot wait to see the movie (hasn’t yet come to my part of the world).
    The idea of the grace of God has always been such a wonderful mystery that I’ve been loving learning about. I always tell my students that Father can handle anything they bring to Him, but this just put that idea into a new light.
    Thanks for that.
    Grace is so much more than the definition I grew up with and I’m so thankful Father has loved me into trust and relationship.

  8. Wayne, I guess what I was asking for clarification was, were you saying that you were bored because you were no enjoying the religious activities (say, when you were in grammer school) and wished that yocould go play soccer with your nonchurch buddies..but were also jealous of the nonchurch kids? and maybe that jealously added to thinking that it was just of God to punish them? I did get that all wrong?

    • I honestly don’t know what you are referring to here, Gilbert. No I never wished to play soccer with my nonchurch buddies. When I grew up Sunday morning was a protected time. No one did activities then. It was church or nothing in my small hometown. So no jealousy there. I don’t know that I knew many non church kids and certainly didn’t know what they were doing on Sundays. All my close friends wen too church somewhere. So, yes, I think you got that wrong. If I said something like that, I don’t remember where it is. I have said that there was a song about “people will meet their doom”, who were not living to please God. That came more into focus in high school as some of my friends were having sex or doing drugs. It wasn’t that I wanted to do those things so much as I wanted them punished for having so much “fun” that was disallowed to me.

  9. I agree with A that God Himself is the best counselor. You have addressed aggressive male leaders in the church. As a woman, I have experienced aggressive or should I say very domineering women in the church who seem to know what every one else should do. They feel the need to perform and to make sure everyone else does also. It has taken me a long time to get away from the performance trap. Has anyone else experienced controlling women in the organized church?

    • Hi Sherri, I have experienced controlling women in and out of the church. I used to think that men had the corner on controlling ways…not anymore. I see it more as a human condition, than a gender condition. I think women can show controlling behaviors in some different ways than men that are not as noticeable at first; or maybe we don’t spot it as much compared to men because we don’t associate controlling patterns with the female gender as much as we do the male gender.

    • Yeah, Sherri. The article was about the Alpha Male leader, but some of the most vicious people I’ve encountered in “leadership” were female. Control and intimidation knows no gender preference. We tried to make that clear in the podcast, but the article was so “male” focused we probably didn’t do enough.

  10. For those asking, here’s the quote::

    “Sometimes in an effort to remind people of the cost of the Cross, we withhold grace until we’re sure they understand their sin. But it is in the giving of our grace that we remind people that they need to go to Jesus to find their own. People understand their sin without our help. It’s grace they need help understanding.”

  11. Wayne and Brad. This was a great podcast. It is so difficult to take a deep breath and relax these days. Brads comment on the “angst and anxiety” resonated with me and Wayne I so wish I could be as you suggested able to relax into the truth. I loved the Shack and actually had a non-believer ASK to go with me only to find out they didn’t know it was a “religious” movie and were somewhat upset. BUT there was a little crack as he has mentioned several times the scene where Mack has to decide who “gets it”.

    Brad’s comments on recently starting to attend a church that seems different also hit home. I too have gone back to “church”. I attend a small non-denominational church in my rural community…shocker to me!

    A big difference in this group seems to be the size (40-50) and non affiliation with a corporate entity. The pastor has a full time job outside the church. This “church” is not the main focus of people but what is evident is that people are going about their daily business while putting God/Jesus first. …and they stay busy (with their own business). There is a prayer chain but no other official activities other than supporting several missionaries and outreach org. On Sunday’s it’s a very loving place. People sharing their week’s activities praises and prayer requests. The people who come seem genuinely happy to see each other and it’s small enough to have personal contact with one another (probably not much during the week).

    I have no idea if this church experience will blow up like others but it is wonderful and I look forward to it. Such a surprise and so refreshing compared to all the “over organized” churches I’ve known. Maybe a change is taking place?

    All this to get back to the “angst and anger” comment and my friend going to the movie… I do not understand why evangelicals need to get in someone’s face with their religion and call it love. So thankful for your work and message that it’s in walking beside someone with Jesus’s love that makes a difference.

    I recently watched a U-Tube video of Scot McKnight who offered this definition of love.
    “A rugged commitment to be with someone as someone who is FOR that person…?unto Kingdom realities. (little shakey on that last part but I think that’s what he said). His point was love is not simply tolerance it is being with someone. Jesus told us to love our enemies because when I am with them, in the way Jesus tells us, it breaks down walls. This is getting extremely difficult but is even more necessary and probably the only way to deal with the “angst and anger”. It’s so sad when it’s often caused by other Christians.

  12. Thanks for putting up the grace quote. It was something I have been trying to say to people but could not always get it into the right words.

    With respect to the “Everyone is saved” I will not get into a any debate except to say this. “In my youth when I was stupid and broke my wifes heart, she told me that she loves me and forgives me. Her love and forgiveness did not heal our relationship but opened up her heart to welcome me back into her arms. It was my turning around from what I had done and returning to her that made the relationship start to work again. My response to her love caused the healing process to happen in our marriage”
    It is about relationship, even with our heavenly Father.

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