Leading the Individual Into His Own Maturity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer on True Leadership

Dietrich Bonhoeffer – the Lutheran pastor who was martyred during World War II for working against the Nazis – wrote extensively on topics like Christian theology and effective spiritual practices. In light of his unique perspective witnessing Hitler’s rise, he also addressed the nature of leadership and the seductive lure of power.

Though most of us primarily think of world leaders or corporate titans as having power, the truth is that many ordinary individuals possess it to a smaller degree – and that small amounts of power don’t preclude giant-sized egos. Whether it’s a member of a city council, a religious leader in charge of a congregation, a coach or teacher in charge of young people, or one of the many other forms of leadership possible in our society, many individuals can lay claim to positions of power and be challenged by Abraham Lincoln’s statement, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Bonhoeffer’s words about true leadership, therefore, are appropriate for anybody.

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