God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
You alone are great, and your glory fills the heavens. You hold the stars and the sun in their place, and you guide the course of the earth.
Who has your authority, and whose majesty compares to yours? Who has ever achieved the righteousness of God?
Look upon your servant with compassion, O Lord, for there is none like you, gracious and abounding in love.
For I am ensnared by guilt and ridden with shame before you, because of my evil desires.
I have made a woman more important than my God, a maiden more praiseworthy than the Lord of heaven and earth. I have longed for what was not rightfully mine, and rejected him who required my whole heart.
When she ceased to love me I became angry; when she no longer looked at me I turned to despair; when she befriended others I became jealous.
She would not care for me, yet I care for her; she will not love me, yet my desire is for her; she is imperfect, yet I hope for her.
Please forgive me, O my God, for I have spurned you.
Wash me in the blood of your sacrifice and cleanse me. Pour out your abundant mercy still proceeding from the cross of your salvation. Count not my sins but the righteousness of your Son. Listen not to the imperfections in my prayers but to your Spirit who mediates.
See my misguided heart - direct it; know my innermost desires - correct them; take hold of my spirit and guide me, or else I am lost to the world.
I will hope in the God who is Love, who gave himself for me.
I visited a library today, and spent a few hours reading. There was a book that had caught my eye in a bookshop, and I wanted to see if the library had the same book; unfortunately, the library's copy was on loan so I couldn't get my hands on it, but I decided to browse around anyway. I ended up taking two books off the shelf out of a collection of books on leadership. Anyway, I thought I'd share my thoughts about those two books with you.
Cover image from Amazon
The first book was Women Leading by Sue Hayward (2004). This book doesn't teach you how to lead; it just describes the personal observations and discoveries of the author. Hayward has a background in journalism, and it seems that the idea behind the book was basically to interview many women in different leadership positions to discover how they got there, how they lead, how it affects their family and personal relationships, and so on. These stories are presented as part of a bigger picture, and the author's commentary includes reflections on personal experiences too.
The underlying value presented in the book is that it is a good thing to have women in leadership, and while it might never be the case that women outnumber men in particular positions currently dominated by men (e.g. executive positions), equality is something that modern nations should strive towards.
One of the reasons why we should strive for gender equality in leadership positions is the observation that, while there are exceptions both ways, men tend to excel in one set of skills while women tend to excel in a different set of skills (like managing many tasks at once, showing care and empathy). The argument is that businesses today need leaders with both kinds of skills, and there are many women who have the skills to lead in their own way. That is, women need not "flirt" their way to the top, nor do they need to act like stereotypical men in order to be good leaders.
Hayward covers a wide range of topics, and includes the impact of the rise of women leading on men who have traditionally dominated the leading roles. Some will find it hard to adapt to a different style of leadership; others may embrace the change of culture but find it difficult, for example, to try to be a stay-at-home father.
Hayward stresses multiple times that she is not trying to present a "feminist" view that neglects the role of men. She also understands that it is hard for a woman to "have it all" in the sense of having a full and productive career as well as being a mother of a family. Some women make it work by hiring a nanny; for many this isn't an option that makes financial sense.
I thought that Women Leading was an interesting read, but I wasn't sure what to really take away from it. It didn't seem to be promoting a particular line of argument or method of leadership - instead, it was a lot like watching a documentary. There were lots of stories, with some commentary, and in the end I felt a bit better educated but without any particular message stuck in my head.
Cover image from
The second book I didn't so much read as skim, since I had already been at the library a couple of hours and the library would close shortly. This book was Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders Today: Breaking Down Generational Barriers at Work by Avril Henry (2007). Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders... seems to be one of a series of books which are in the traditional category of management/self-help, presenting ideas in a very structured format and focussed on helping managers to be better leaders in the workplace.
This particular book in the series is focussed on understanding the differences between generations in their cultures, expectations, and responses to leadership. It looks mainly at three generations: Boomers, X, and Y, and to a lesser extent, Veterans. It looks at different aspects of leadership, such as the question of how each group of people defines leadership. In the case of older generations, leadership means having authority and respect - but for younger generations, leadership means showing mutual respect and leading by example. On the one hand, Boomers look for job security; on the other, Generations X and Y do not put their trust in a single job and expect to move around. Generation Y is motivated by lots of positive feedback; Generation X rails against micro-management; and so on.
Inspiring Tomorrow's Leaders... offers insights about each generation with the underlying premise that effective leadership requires you to understand those you are leading. People of different generations have different cultural expectations of work, relationships, motivations, and expressions of respect - and a key part of leading is presumably to understand what is true or false about the stereotypes and communicate effectively with people across generations.
At the end of the day, I think leading and caring go hand in hand. A good leader is someone who understands others, cares about them, and is able to get alongside them and inspire them towards a common goal. I think that's why it's a good idea to try to understand cultural differences between generations. The ability to care for those they lead is also argued to be a reason why many women have proven to be exceptional leaders - though I wonder if a good female leader should really be different to a good male leader. I don't want to start ranting, so I'll just leave it at that!