One of the better books I’ve read on leadership is David Logan’s book on Tribal Leadership According to Logan, no matter where in the world we live, we are all tribal people forming into groups in one of five stages of maturity. Our personal and tribal maturity is dependent on our view of the world. Here are Logan’s stages and the view of life held in each.
STAGE ONE: DESPAIRING HOSTILITY or “Life Stinks.”
People in these groups are hardly groups at all. They generally live isolated lives limited by a sense of despair that life cannot and will not get better because that is just the way life is. If they had a motto, it might be, “Life Sinks.” The best way to help people stuck in stage one is to get them out to another place. A person surrounded by a Stage One Tribe will have a difficult time seeing or experiencing life differently.
STAGE TWO: APATHETIC VICTIM or “My Life Stinks.”
People in these groups have a sense that life is not terrible for everyone, just for them. While others may do well, they can’t imagine a productive path for themselves. The best help for people in stage two are mentors who help them see their lives differently.
STAGE THREE: LONE WARRIORS or “I’m Great!”
People in this stage have a sense of personal accomplishment. They group together but are more competitive than communal. Every get together is an opportunity for outdoing another. The best projects to encourage people to grow out of this stage are tasks that require others to complete.
STAGE FOUR: TRIBAL PRIDE or “We’re Great!”
People in this stage have bonded together with a sense of what a group can carry out. Great things have and are continually being accomplished by groups at this stage. The limit is this group needs a sense of superiority over other groups to have a sense of value. Working with other groups on goals greater than their own tribe helps members grow to stage five.
STAGE FIVE: WONDER or “Life is Great!”
This group has a vision for the world that is rooted in wonder. As G.K. Chesterton said, “The world does not lack wonders but a sense of wonder.” For people working together at this stage, they see the world as full of limitless possibility. They do not need to perceive themselves as superior but can marvel at all that is possible whether enacted by their group or others.
In this famous parable of “The Talents,” which worldview does the servant with one talent hold? Though it would seem that the numbers are significant with one having five talents, one having two, and one having only a single talent, be careful. Jesus is often like a magician using sleight of hand to distract us. These stewards are all servants of the master. Though each is entrusted with a different amount, the numbers are irrelevant. The talents, money, or gifts are the property of the master. What is significant is what they do with them. The question I ask you to consider, is the one who buries his talent in the ground stuck in a world view of, “Life Stinks”? Does he only receive what he can see, a harsh world with a harsh master?
Where would you place yourself in the parable?
Matthew 25. 14 “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15 to one he gave five talents,[f] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17 In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18 But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20 Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
22 And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
24 Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’26 But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29 For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.30 As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
If you would like to consider further David Logan’s work you can read his book, Tribal Leadership, or watch his talk at a TED conference by clicking the link below.