A leadership lesson from guitarist Phil Keaggy

In my work environment I am surrounded by some incredibly talented young people. (Increasingly I’m surrounded only by younger people, but that is another post for another day…)

These men and women are quicker in comprehension, more knowledgeable than me in numerous areas of social media, have better marketing comprehension then me and–sigh–the list goes on.

As I grew older in pastoral ministry I regularly ran across people more talented than I. In my last pastorate one pastor was far better than me at relationship building, another was far better at project planning and execution, another far more talented in music and management, and another was every bit my equal in preaching. Everywhere I turned I was faced with a team member who excelled me in some area.

Most all of us have some amount of ego that flinches when one better than us comes on the scene. Humility–preferring others over ourselves–is far more admired than practiced.

Phil Keaggy Dream Again Cover

Phil Keaggy [Image credit]

This is often seen in ministry when identity in Christ is too closely linked to calling from Christ. In such a scenario, an older person can feel their identity threatened when the calling of another grows more prominent, or the gifts of another are surpassing. Jealousy is usually the result.

A Kingdom mindset finds older believers rejoicing over the calling and gifts of younger believers. Nowhere is this more needed than in areas of Christian leadership. Christian leaders need to rejoice when others do well. They must repent from and reject jealousy, which are roots of evil works.

Below is a video of guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy. It was shot before a concert. Keaggy is seated with another guitarist, James T. La Brie, who is clearly a fan. Keaggy is regarded, by those who know the subject, as one of today’s top guitarists and, perhaps, one of the greatest who ever lived. You do not even have to buy the Jimi Hendrix urban legend to hold that view. La Brie admits his nervousness, which is pretty easy to see with all the squirming he does.

What’s fun to watch, and instructive to older believers and leaders, is Keaggy’s supportive participation. La Brie starts with an instrumental he wrote. Quickly Keaggy provides guitar-body percussion, eventually playing along for most of the piece. La Brie then suggests a second effort, a Joni Mitchell song, and they play together again.

Through both of these, Keaggy makes no effort to overshadow his fan. At no point does he show anything but genuine interest and joy. I know less than zero about playing the guitar. This, however, is as much about leadership as about music.

If you are a younger person, what are some specific things an older person has done to encourage your leadership track?

If you are an older person, how can we avoid the pitfalls of jealousy toward younger, more gifted people who might ultimately take our positions?

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.