No, this is not the title of my next novel (though I kind of like it). Today I’m scheduled to speak to students at Middle Tennessee State University on ethics in leadership. I’ve been thinking about what to say – often when I give these types of talks, I don’t prepare a “script” but rather go with what is on my mind. It may sound like the wrong method, but in an intimate classroom setting I prefer the discussion approach rather than following a stiff presentation march (with potential Death by PowerPoint).
Still, thinking about ethics in leadership has led me to certain points in my life when, in hindsight (and often at the time), I chose the ethical leadership decision. I’ve come to realize the reason for that. In reality, thee is no such thing as unethical leadership.
A leader is not someone who oversees people, a department, a squadron, and so on. Those who approach successful completion of a mission by relying solely on chain of command are not leaders, they are managers. Leaders may or may not be someone’s superior in an organizational chart. In fact, most likely not.
Leadership is about service. Conversely, true service is leadership. Ethical leadership involves using our positions of influence to achieve positive results for others. If one’s motives inherently are self-serving, how can that be leadership? One may argue that both can exist – a person may lead out of service but also desire to reap the benefits – and I would agree. But if the primary motivator is self and not others, that is not ethical leadership (and there is no such thing as unethical leadership, in my opinion).
Christian writers, fiction and non-fiction, take on a tremendous responsibility that I am not sure is often realized. As a Christian, I have the responsibility to advance His kingdom through my words (written and spoken). Yes, book sales and reputation and name recognition are important because we want encouragement that we are making a difference. But they cannot be prime motivators for creating works – He must always be first.
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
With the novel Leaving Darkness (WestBow Press), Franklin, Tennessee author Greg Schaffer hopes that, by blending fiction with ministry experiences, readers may be helped through the story of a young man on the brink of suicide who, through participation in a small group ministry, finds a path out of the darkness of depression.
“I’ve seen firsthand the healing power of small group ministries,” explained Schaffer, a volunteer for several years with Nashville, Tennessee-based Restore Small Groups. “The key is reaching those who want to change but don’t know how or where to look for answers. My goal is that some struggling can possibly relate to Leaving Darkness and that the novel may trigger within them the motivation to reach out for help.”
Leaving Darkness follows Lowell Ferguson, a 28-year-old long-haul truck driver living in a world of isolation to numb himself from his past. His Chihuahua, Rufus, provides his only lifeline, but when he finds out Rufus may have cancer, he considers his own end is near, as without Rufus he believes his life is meaningless. While awaiting the diagnosis, he happens on a flier for a small group ministry promising the fullness and meaning of life he missed. Reluctantly attending his first group meeting opens a faith-based road to finding the life he is meant to live.
“I was in a place similar to Lowell many years ago,” Schaffer continued. “Well, not as drastic, but I was certainly down. I knew I wasn’t the ‘happy-go-lucky’ person I used to be. And, like Lowell, I stumbled upon a flier for a small group ministry that promised a path to change. Sure enough, that group experience changed my life forever. This process works for those willing to find a way to make a change. That’s why I was called to write about it.”
Leaving Darkness is available in paperback, hardcover, and eBook from major Internet outlets and directly from WestBow Press. For more information, visit leavingdarkness.info.