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The Real Transformers

The Real Transformers
Spring 2010 | Volume 33, Number 1 | From the Editor

What Leaders Have Transformed Your World?

Response Editor Jennifer Johnson GilnettWhy is the subject of leadership significant to us as humans and as Christians? For starters, leaders at every level and in every sphere of endeavor can change our world profoundly — for better or for worse. They help to shape our values and priorities, and our views of God, self, the world, and other human beings.

How would we be different if Abraham Lincoln had not saved the American union and abolished slavery? Or if Hitler had not ignited war in Europe and murdered millions of people? Or if Mother Teresa had not devoted herself to caring for the poorest of the poor? It’s fascinating, and in some cases sobering, to think about the kind of world we would live in if some of our most influential leaders had never been born.

In this issue of the magazine, Response is spotlighting leaders — particularly those who can be described as “transformational.” From Lincoln to Winston Churchill to the members of U2, we’re telling stories and asking questions such as “How do exceptional leaders transform their worlds?” “How does someone become this kind of leader?” and “What can we learn from these leaders?”

But most leaders don’t wield their influence on the world stage. They inspire the good and the bad in people in schools, churches, businesses, hospitals, theatres, homes, and every other corner of life. No doubt each of us can bring to mind a leader or leaders who changed us in some way.

When I think of leaders who’ve influenced me, the list includes my father, whose personal character runs quiet and deep; teachers, including SPU faculty members, who cared about both my mind and my life; a pastor who showed me that faith and curiosity go hand-in-hand; and SPU President Eaton and Vice President Marj Johnson, whose outstanding leadership has helped to guide my career.

When I was 21, I went to work for an SPU leader who taught me some of my earliest lessons about leadership in the workplace. Motivated by his faith, John Glancy ’70 modeled exemplary character and integrity as a leader. He was dedicated to excellence in the name of Christ, aiming for standards of quality that exceeded expectations. John showed respect for each of his employees, treating us kindly and fairly, and always saying “thank you” for the work we had done. Though he held us to high standards, he was generous with his grace. He offered gentle reproof when needed, following it with encouragement. He was loyal in his leadership as well — both to his team and to his employer, putting them first before his own ego.

John continues to lead at SPU, and I now have the opportunity to put into practice what I learned from him about leadership. Sometimes I’m successful; sometimes I’m not. But his example is constantly in my mind.  The influence of a Christian leader whose values have been shaped by the gospel cannot be overestimated. Educating young people to become that kind of leader, and learning to become that kind of leader ourselves, can transform our homes, workplaces, communities — yes, even the world.

My life has been changed by leaders who invested in me at just the right moments. Many of you have similar stories, and Response would love to hear them. If you would like, you can share how leaders have made a difference in your life.

Response Welcomes New Managing Editor

I’d like to welcome Hannah Notess, the new Response managing editor, to our team. We chose Hannah for her emerging leadership as a published poet and editor, and she has already proven to be a great asset to the magazine. I look forward to the ways in which she will enhance Response in the future. Find out more about Hannah.