The Table Podcast

Leading with Courage and Compassion

In this episode, Mikel Del Rosario, Dr. Darrell L. Bock, and Bill Hendricks discuss leading with courage and compassion, focusing on leadership in a shifting culture.

Timecodes
00:15
Leadership in a shifting culture
04:54
The origins of the Hendricks Center
07:15
The role of comprehension in leadership
15:06
Understanding others and understanding one’s self
21:59
The role of compassion in leadership
29:44
Compassion and empathy in the business world
34:13
The role of courage in leadership
39:21
The importance of courage for cultural engagement
44:37
The role of character in leadership
Transcript
Mikel Del Rosario
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Mikel Del Rosario, Cultural Engagement Manager at the Hendricks Center. And today our topic is leading with courage and compassion. I have two guests in the studio today. First guest is Dr. Darrell Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement and Senior Research Professor of New Testament at Dallas Seminary. Welcome, Darrell.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I’m glad to be here.
Mikel Del Rosario
Thanks for being one of our expert guests today.
Dr. Darrell Bock
I’m feeling odd in this chair, but I should be okay.
Mikel Del Rosario
And our second guest is Bill Hendricks, Executive Director of Leadership at the Hendricks Center. Thanks for being on the show.
Bill Hendricks
Thanks for having me.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well, Darrell, I want to just dive right into our discussion and you wrote an article recently about leading in a shifting culture, a rapidly shifting culture. Explain to us a little bit about this cultural shift that you’ve seen in your ministry.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, you can think about it in a variety of ways. Let me just give a couple of examples. Think about communication just for a second. I remember being very, very young in 1962. I was eight years old at the time. People can try and figure out how old that makes me now, but I won’t do the math. And when the Telstar satellite gave the first live broadcast between Europe and the United States, and it was such big news that they broke into the broadcast that they were in the midst of … I think I was watching a cartoon or something … and, lo and behold, we got to see the UK live. And then just think about how often that happens today, in a variety of ways. Not just on news channels, but I can call my neighbor from halfway across the world. We can FaceTime together, that kind of thing. So that’s one kind of change.

And then there’s this … there are the social changes that, of course, we’ve seen in my own lifetime, as well. So we live in a time of rapid change, in which the leaders in the church are having to speak to people who are also having to cope with all these changes in one way or another. The world that our children are growing up in, or our grandchildren in my case, is very different than the world I grew up in. So how does the church prepare people for that? That actually is a challenge for leaders in the church. And so we exist, at the Hendricks Center, to help leaders negotiate through that, and to think through what those changes represent, and the kind of pressures that are faced as a result of some of those changes.

Mikel Del Rosario
You talked before about how, in this time, as we’re doing ministry, we find that more and more throughout the country the Bible isn’t the answer in the minds of many people, but rather it’s the question. And so it’s a different game from when, let’s say 19th century, 20th century America for most of the 20th century, where you could quote the Bible to someone as a pastor, and have them give a little bit of respect, maybe, to the text, because of their cultural heritage. How do you see the church having to respond to that kind of change?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, it responds in a couple of ways. One is that people better be equipped to explain what the Bible is, and why they believe the Bible is the inspired word of God. And the second is they need to be able to say I … there’s a line that I say when I speak about this … that we used to be able to say, “It’s true because it’s in the Bible.” And whether someone was a member of the church or not, there was enough Judeo-Christian net around our culture they’d say, “Well, that’s at least a respected religious source. That’s gonna help me think about how to live life.” And so they would accept it, whether they accepted everything about what the Bible was or not.

Today, that’s no longer true. A lot of people have questions about the Bible. They have questions about what kind of work it is, that kind of thing. So now we have to argue that it’s in the Bible because it’s true. That’s a different kind of argumentation. The idea is, well, God has inspired this and said this is the way to live, because this is a helpful way to live on its own intrinsic merit. So how do you make that argument in that kind of a way, and how do you think about it? So, the church has to think about how the Bible addresses the authenticity of life, and what makes for a good way of living in human flourishing, and not simply put the imprimatur of the Bible on it, but understand the theological and human, and anthropological rationale for why God would say that’s a good way to live.

Mikel Del Rosario
We talk about that a lot, nowadays, in terms of cultural engagement at the Center. But Bill, let me ask you to take us back to the ’80s, when the Hendricks Center first began. Talk a little bit about your dad, and how Howard Hendricks began to focus on leadership, and what his focus was in that regard.
Bill Hendricks
Sure. And, as you mentioned, my dad is Howard Hendricks. He taught at Dallas Seminary for 60 years. He founded what was called the Department of Christian Education. And some of the themes that he was big on, I guess you’d say, in addition to education were leadership, and mentoring, discipleship, and Christian home was another classic area for him. And, of course, nobody got through seminary without having to take his Bible Study Methods course. That was pretty much a required course for all concerned. And he had a huge influence, and he’s now with the Lord.

But in the mid ’80s, he used to say, “The greatest crisis in America is a crisis of leadership. And the greatest crisis of leadership is a crisis of character.” And with that kind of spirited mind, he founded and brought some others in to work with him on what became called the Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership. And they began to really think through what does it take to lead people, not just in churches and in Christian institutions, but also out in society, in the marketplace and in workplaces, in the military, in government?

Dad was very much about the practice of the word. He had done his thesis on the Book of James. And so a lifelong theme for him was, “Let’s not just be hearers of the word, let’s be doers of the word.” And he kept driving toward the practical. How does this apply to everyday life? And it really was the perfect setup for where things have gone today, because today, more than ever, we need to be asking the question, “How does our theology, how does our Bible, how does it work? In day-to-day life, what difference does this make?” And people are really seeking that answer, if they’re people of faith.

Mikel Del Rosario
Well, Darrell, in the article that you wrote, you mentioned four words, four concepts that begin with the letter C. So it’s … that thing’ll preach, right?
Bill Hendricks
It’s a very DTS view.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well, what we want do …
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s against all my instincts. I just want to get that out on the table right now.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well, what we want to do with this … rest of our conversation is walk through these concepts. And conveniently they all begin with C, so they’re easy to remember. And the first one is comprehension. So, tell me. What do we need to understand as leaders ministering in these rapidly changing times?
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, the challenge of what’s happened to the Center has been that we started off focusing on the leader, on his character. But it became clear, particularly with this cultural shift that we just talked about, with the shedding of the Judeo-Christian net, that having a leader with character in and of itself wasn’t gonna be enough. Now it’s important and foundational. You’re not gonna go anywhere without the issue of character.
Bill Hendricks
That hasn’t changed.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That has not changed. That’s … it’s central. But, the ability of the leader to comprehend Scripture and to comprehend society … that’s two S’s. The ability to understand Scripture and the culture around them both, to switch hit, to be able to move in either direction is really an important part of leadership. At the Center we talk about having biblical agility in shifting times. And it’s the ability to read and react. Now I may have to explain this to some people. Those who are footballipture fans know exactly what I’m talking about.

When you hand the ball off to a runner and he’s in the sweep play, and they’re … the linemen are pulling out in front, the play is drawn to have a hole in a certain place. But that doesn’t mean that’s where the hole’s gonna be. And so, as the runner is coming to the sideline and deciding when he’s gonna make his cut up the field, he’s got to read and react, both to the way the linemen are configured, and the way the defense is coming at him, so that when that … And he also needs to anticipate where that hole is gonna be by the time he gets there. And so all those skills that are pictured in that metaphor are the skills of the leader who’s able to read and react, both knowing what he’s carrying on the one hand, what the Scripture has to say, and how to cut through life in the midst of it all.

So this comprehension is two-fold. It’s the understanding of the Scripture, which generally speaking, seminaries have been pretty good at training people to be able to do. But then the understanding of the culture is something, generally speaking, that has tended to take a lesser position. And yet, it’s very, very important, as well. And so the ability to … what we … another metaphor that we use in the Center is, the ability to switch hit. The ability to go from life to the Bible, or life back to the Bible. To be able to go both ways, and it’s not always the same move … is important in being a leader, and in knowing how to discern what it is that needs to be done in particularly difficult circumstances, oftentimes. And those circumstances have become more challenging in many ways in recent times.

And so we’re trying to equip people with both levels of comprehension. So if you look at, for example, these podcasts that we do, some of them are biblically content oriented, they’re theologically oriented, they’re about doctrines and teaching and that kind of thing, or apologetics. But others of them are very much situational scenarios, the types of spaces and places people find themselves in, and they’re wanting to know, how do I assess this and know how to respond biblically. So that’s comprehension.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. So there’s that biblical agility, the ability to switch hit. You can go from, “Today’s lesson is from John 1,” and then exegete that for people. Or you can say, “Well hey, I’m having trouble with my marriage, I’m having trouble responding to this person at work, and how can the Scriptures help inform what I’m going through?”
Dr. Darrell Bock
Exactly right. So we have, on the one hand, material that deals with the content of Scripture. For example, we did a podcast in relationship to the whole same-sex marriage discussion, going through eight key passages that talk about the issue of same-sex desire, and what Scripture has to say about that. But we’ve also, on the flip side, done other pieces that talk about people who grew up in a home where his parents divorced, and they each entered into same-sex relationships. And he was raised in that kind of a context, came to the Lord, and how now does he relate to his parents? Or we flipped it around. We’ve had an interview with someone who was same-sex attracted, told their mom, came to the Lord eventually, and talked about what that relationship was like through that entire journey.

So we’ve gone from both the text to the life situation, and the life situation back to the text. We go both ways.

Bill Hendricks
Well, and I’d point out in those illustrations, Darrell, something that we talk about a lot at the Center, which is that oftentimes the … when we’re on the side of understanding the culture and the issues, a lot of that is really messy. Like the answers are not so obvious, because the situations are often so murky. And many times we’re dealing with people, and people who hold a particular view, who are coming from an altogether different worldview. And so we have to read that, and we have to understand, “How are they seeing life?” Just like you said, if our approach is to just say, “Well, the Bible says X,” if they don’t believe the Bible, they think it’s as relevant as Aesop’s Fables, then the conversation’s over at that point.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah. In fact, we’re working on talking about a template to think about this. There’s what’s going on in the culture, there’s what the Bible says. Often those two things are in conflict with one another. We live in a fallen world, so our world is full of tension. And particularly oftentimes those tensions are between what the Bible aspires for people to be, and the way they actually live. And yet, regardless of how you resolve those two things … and that’s already challenging enough, in many cases … you’re still left with the relational level of how do I actually relate to someone who’s coming from a very different place than I am. And is it strictly gonna be a confrontation? And what is that actually, in the end, going to achieve? Or, is it a combination of what I call challenge and invitation. I’m gonna challenge them with way Scripture calls people to live, on the one hand. But it’s always with an invitation to step into what’s possible from God’s hand, and through God’s grace.

And hopefully, at the relational level, I’m always wrestling with those two elements, side by side, so that I don’t back off on my convictions on the one hand, and I’m actually engaged in the conversation with a willingness to learn and to hear what’s being said on the other. But at the same time, I’m also extending this invitation to say, “There might be a better way to live. There might be a more profitable way to do things than the way we are engaged with each other right now.” And that, I think, is part of what’s important to what the Center does, ’cause a leader, to lead, has to be a leader not just in what he thinks and what he sees, but also how he relates to the people that he’s leading.

Mikel Del Rosario
So thinking about comprehension, we have the Scripture that we need to understand, we have the culture that we live in, or the subcultures that we live in. Maybe we have to manage a couple of different things.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s an important point. There’s more than one culture that we’re floating around in. You’re always dealing with hybrids in one degree or another.
Mikel Del Rosario
Is there anything else that you’d say we need to understand to be better leaders?
Bill Hendricks
Absolutely. I think Darrell touched on it, but we need to understand the person that we’re dealing with. Oftentimes we deal with issues. But, of course, in dealing with those issues, we’re dealing with people. And one of the real problems in dealing with folks who disagree with us is we easily can dehumanize them. And then we begin to attack. And what we need to see is this is a person, made in God’s image. And they may have come to a very different conclusion than we have.

And that may mystify us. But one thing that’ll help is, have the person begin to tell you their story. The Italians have a saying, “I can’t know you unless I’ve dined with you.” I like to say, “I can’t know you unless I’ve heard your story.” When I hear where you’ve been, where you’ve come from, your background, some of the situations you’ve been through in life, some of the things that have happened to you, some of the things that you’ve done, it just … it can’t help but begin to generate some compassion, and at least an ability to put myself in the other person’s shoes and say, “Wow. I think if I’d been through that I might end up at the same place.” And that has a way of treating the person as a person, and humanizing the conversation.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, yeah. So we need to understand Scripture, we need to understand the context, the culture that we live in, and we need to understand people, as well. Other people and ourselves.
Dr. Darrell Bock
When we did this in relationship to world religions, we did it through three questions. We said, “What is this religion about? What makes it tick? What draws a person to this faith? What … I call it the Velcro factor. What causes them to stick to this religion and be an adherent of it? And then, how does the gospel speak into that attraction?” And so, whereas traditionally what we tend to do is to say, “Well, here’s what this religion believes, and here’s what the Bible says about it.” Now that, again, is valuable to know the difference. You gotta know what you’re dealing with. But the flip side of it is, is that I’m addressing someone, if I can address them from where they are coming from as the starting point, I’m in a much better place to have a conversation with them, and to draw them into what it is, to get them to be reflective.

I see Paul doing this in Acts 17. He starts off by saying, “I see you’re very spiritual.” Now he doesn’t like the idols that they’re worshiping at all, but he does say, “I see that you’re very spiritual. And since you’re spiritual, let’s have a conversation about spirituality.” And then he dives into it. And so, this way in is a way of connecting with someone in the midst of sometimes very challenging conversations. And good leadership knows how to do that and do that well.

Mikel Del Rosario
And spending this unhurried, unrushed time with people, humanizing them, like you say. So you’re not working with someone like this is a Buddhist, quote/unquote, or a Muslim, but this is my friend.
Bill Hendricks
This is a person.
Mikel Del Rosario
Liam or whoever it is. We saw this doing Vietnamese refugee ministry in Orange County. It’s just spending time with people. Then you don’t see them as a label. You see them as a person.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And the fascinating thing is, texts like, say, Colossians 4, 5, and 6, talks about engaging with outsiders as an opportunity. They don’t see it as a threat. It’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s nothing to back off from. It’s nothing to fear. There’s another passage in 1 Peter 3 that says, “We’re not supposed to fear the engagement that we have, but we’re supposed to set Christ apart as Lord in our hearts, and be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is within us, but with courtesy and respect, with gentleness and respect.” And so the text sees these as opportunities for engagement that have an opportunity, where we have an opportunity to represent faithfully God’s presence in the world. And hopefully we do that from our character in the way we engage with people. So this relational dimension is a very important part of what we need to understand as we engage.
Bill Hendricks
And there’s one other level, Mikel, and that is understanding our self. The older I get the more I realize that self awareness, it may not be the only thing at the heart of leadership, but it’s certainly at the heart of leadership. If I don’t know myself, both the good and the bad, then I’ve got a big problem. In Galatians, for instance, Paul, he gets pretty angry at the Judaizers. And he says, “Why don’t you just go ahead and go all the way and emasculate yourselves?” And you’re thinking, “Wow, that’s really strong, almost mean-spirited language. Why would he do such a thing?” Because, in Galatians 1, he’s already opened up his robe and said, “Look. I was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. I was murdering people.” He doesn’t want people to go back there. He knows himself well enough to know that if the law could save it would save. But in fact, it didn’t. And he’s very honest about who he is. And he …

On the other side, people also need to know something about what I like to call the good truth about who they are. And as you know, my specialization has to do with people’s giftedness. And so we have a variety of resources at the Hendricks Center in helping particularly students come to grips with how God has designed them, and what their strengths are, so that they can deploy those strengths where they can be most effective.

So self-awareness is also a comprehension thing. And it’ll overlap with one of the other Cs that we get into later.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So what we’re saying is, is that you have the character of the leader, which certainly is fundamental and the core starting point. It’s your hub. But, what that character needs to be sensitized to and aware of is what Scripture says on the one hand, and what’s going on around people on the other, and what’s driving them to be, and respond the way in which they are responding. And a leader who’s very discerning about that is much better equipped to lead then just a good person who may be good and warmhearted and everything else, committed to the Lord. But if they’re oblivious to what’s going on around them, they’re gonna be struggling to walk into some of these difficult areas, oftentimes, that we’re often have to not only lead individually, but remember, leaders are leading institutions, and they’re having other people follow them, so that there’s a corporate dimension to leadership that is important to keep in mind, that the leader has to be equipped to be able to be a part of.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well we’re starting to bleed into that second concept, which is the second C word, which is compassion. And we’ve already talked about compassion a little bit. Sometimes you see such polarization out there in the public square, where people have forgotten how to listen to each other, and have those difficult conversations. I really like this GPS, spiritual GPS illustration you give. Talk about what it means to get a spiritual GPS on someone.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well I tell people that when you first meet someone, especially someone very different than you, that the first thing you ought to do is be a good listener. There’s a wonderful passage in James that talks about being quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger. It’s a great text. And so the idea is to be a good listener. And then I say the next thing you need to do is to get a spiritual GPS on someone. You need to get to know the person well enough to see what drives them, what causes them to tick. What are they interested in? What are they invested in as a person? What influences have impacted them? And I often say, in the midst of talking about this that we’re meeting more and more people today who’ve never darkened the door of a church. So, anticipate what their understanding of Christianity’s going to be if they’ve never walked into a church. It’s gonna be what the absorb from the culture around them.

Now, think about that. What do you think that portrait of Christianity’s gonna be like? It’s probably gonna be something that’s gonna have to get addressed at one point or another, ’cause it’s probably not too faithful to the faith that you’re familiar with. Okay. So all of that is important to know. Are there influences in the background? Was there a bad church experience in the background? All those kinds of things can be very important. And so you pursue that. And the other thing that I say is, you want to put your doctrinal, theological, and identity meters on mute. Now that’s said very carefully. I’m not saying turn them off. You’re not gonna be able to. You’re gonna register with things that are said to you. And you should. You should pay attention to what you’re hearing.

But what I mean by that is, is that our tendency is, when we hear something that’s off, is, “I’ve got to respond. I’ve got to respond immediately.” We immediately go into rebuttal mode. And the way you know, in a conversation, whether you’re listening or not, is whether you’re in a mode in which, if I had to repeat what this person said to me in different words so that they would say, “You get it,” I could do that. Or, I’m in a mode in which I say, “The way I’m gonna respond to this person is …” And so that’s how you sort out whether you’ve got that meter on mute or not.

And so you put it on mute, and you just try and figure out … GPS. You’re trying to figure out where they’re located. And down the road … And we’re assuming here … in some of these conversations we’re assuming, we’re talking about these long-term relationships that people have, the ones they care about the most. And so, you’re gonna get a chance down the road to bring up the stuff that you hear. But initially what you want to do, I want to understand what drives this person, what makes them tick. That’s part of compassion.

And another important part to realize about this is that the attempt to understand someone doesn’t equate agreement with them, nor does it equate defection because you’re compromising on anything. You’re trying to get to know the person. And really, before you can do a good assessment on someone, the better you understand them, the more likely you’re assessment is to be more on target. So, we’re talking about something that’s almost a requirement, relationally, in order to be able to interact well. And particularly in areas of conflict, it’s important that you at least know what you’re disagreeing about well. And so we say, in these difficult conversations, which is a part of compassion, that when you interact with someone, and you can both say, “Yep. That’s exactly what we disagree about. Now let’s talk about it,” you’re in a much better place than sometimes what often happens in these conversations, particularly when they’re debates, you end up talking past one another, and you really aren’t touching the issue that you really disagree about.

Mikel Del Rosario
That’s so important to develop that empathy, that understanding of the other person, rather than feeling like, “They said something I disagree with. Now I have to defend the entire contents of the Christian worldview, because they have a different view than me on this particular topic.” You were talking a couple days ago about, sometimes behind closed doors, people are really honest with you and they say, “You know what? I just don’t care. I just don’t care.” Are we stuck? Are they stuck? Is there a way forward? How do we help people to develop that kind of compassion?
Bill Hendricks
Yeah. I think a lot, anymore, about how do you get people to care? The phrase is out there, “Compassion fatigue.” You hear about people starving or you hear about terrible atrocities, and it’s so much of it, after awhile you just become calloused to it, and you get compassion fatigue. But how do you care? And I don’t think you can gin it up. I don’t know the whole answer to that question, but do know one thing. We ought to pray for more instances in which God takes us through a time of personal brokenness. When somebody goes through a really deep or dark valley, the death of a loved one, a serious life threatening illness, an auto wreck, a financial reversal, getting fired, stuff that’s really rocked their world.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Maybe severe depression.
Bill Hendricks
Yeah. That basically takes them beyond their strength and, “Now I got nowhere to go but look up to God and cry out to Him.” That’s actually a good thing. Because at that point, you begin to look around at other humans and go, “Wow. I’m also in this human condition. I live in this fallen world, and now it’s affected me.” It somehow has a way of engendering some compassion for people that are struggling. And people who don’t have the gospel. Many people know that I lost my first wife back in 2000 to breast cancer. So I now have an 18-year PhD in grief and loss. A verse that has come back to me again and again and again, of course, is in I Thessalonians 4, where Paul says, “I don’t want you to grieve as those who have no hope.” And so this idea that, as Christians, we grieve, but not as those who have no hope.

That’s absolutely true. And both sides of it are true. We do grieve. Grief really is real grief. It hurts, and it doesn’t really ever subside. The severity may, but grief is not like five stages and you’re out of it. It’s a cycle. And these cycles will come back throughout your life. But it’s not as if we have no hope. And I do not know what people do who grieve but have no hope. To see your whole world vanish before your eyes and not have God, that’s a rough thing. By the way, that same principle applies to a lot of other things. We suffer, but not as those who have no hope. We have financial reversals, but not as those who have no hope.

So, as Christians, we live in the same vicissitudes that everybody else … The only difference is that we have some hope. But that ought to give us some compassion for people that have not yet found Jesus.

Mikel Del Rosario
And you do a lot of work with people in the business world. How do you help them integrate this idea of compassion and empathy into their vocation?
Bill Hendricks
Well, the same place we’re talking. I’m like, “Let’s see people as persons, not just a means to get money to be made.” In other words, every person that you interact with in the workplace, maybe the people that report to you, yeah, we’ve got work to get done here, and we’re paying them a salary or wage to get that work done. But people bring all of who they are to work. And so they not only bring … It’s like Henry Ford, back in the day, said, “When you hire a hand, the whole body shows up.” And that’s so true. The person brings all of their challenges, all of their problems, all the relational things they’re going through, all of their hopes and dreams. They bring all of that to work.

And so we need to see people as whole persons, and begin to care about where is their life going? Obviously as Christians, that bigger thing of where’s their eternal destiny going? And we need to bring Christ to them, not just by hammering on them to repent and turn. The gospel certainly needs to be shared, but it needs to be shared, not just for eternity, but for right now. The values of our king that Darrell mentioned, it’s an attractive set of values. Life goes better when we treat people as we would want to be treated, for example. And we show them patience, and we show them kindness, and we show them compassion.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. So compassion works, not only in your individual, spiritual conversations, but even at work, where you see your coworkers as people.
Bill Hendricks
Oh, and especially at work, because that’s where most of us interface with most of our colleagues.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And even in communities. Sometimes we tend to talk about these things as if they’re strictly individualized. But there actually is a dimension of this that’s bigger than who I am, or who you are, but who we are as a community. And so how does the church show its compassion, and how do leaders lead with enough compassion so that the community takes on that value and that virtue in such a way that they see, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son.” How do we live in such a way that ministers and engages in such way that that message gets reinforced by the way we as a community treat people?
Bill Hendricks
One of our heroes at the Hendricks Center is a guy named Tom Landis. Have you had him on a podcast yet? If not, we ought to.
Mikel Del Rosario
We had him live, here.
Bill Hendricks
We had him live?
Mikel Del Rosario
Yes.
Bill Hendricks
I know we’ve had him live at the seminary. Tom Landis is an entrepreneur, and he’s a restaurant guy. But a couple years ago he created a concept called Howdy Homemade Ice Cream here in Dallas. And the whole staff at Howdy Homemade is special needs people. And his vision, his passion is to create more jobs for special needs people. And he’s doing that out of his conviction that people matter. And not just high IQ people and educated people, but special needs people, too. And he pointed out to me that for many special needs people, they grow up and they’re mainstreamed. And then, when the get to be 18, 20, somewhere in there, all their friends go off to work or to college or the military or wherever they go, and they’re there by them self. And it quickly becomes apparent to them, “Gee. There’s no job for me.” Many of them get institutionalized. But what happens at that point is they’re life expectancy plummets, because they don’t have a purpose. If you don’t have a purpose, then you start to die. And that’s literally what’s happening there.

And so Tom realized this problem and he said, “Well, they ought to have jobs like everybody else.” And so he created a kind of work there at Howdy Homemade which actually fits some of the skills, some of the ways that special needs people can contribute, because a lot of the work is repetitive, and it … interaction with the customers and so forth, it actually works for them.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. So compassion. Now we’re moving into courage, which is the next C concept. We’re starting to see how these things dovetail together. Talk to us a little bit about the kind of courage that we need to have as Christian leaders in this shifting culture.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, the main thing is the courage to walk into difficult places and spaces. That it’s easy … There are reactions that are easy. I can react against something, and I push back, and all I do is stiff-arm what’s going on. And when I stiff arm, I’m keeping distance. I can withdraw. I just don’t want to have anything to do with that. That’s just too complicated. I am not going there. And frankly, I think in many situations in the church, that’s probably the default category … is we just stay out of it. Just, I don’t want to stir the waters.
Bill Hendricks
Don’t want to rock the boat.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Don’t want to rock the boat. I want as much peace as possible. Meanwhile, this stuff is all simmering underneath and eating away at your community, if you don’t deal with it.

And then the third way is to step forward and step in, to have the courage to step forward and step in. Hopefully you’ve done it with … you do it with good character, you do it with a comprehension, some comprehension of what’s going on, and you do it with enough compassion that when you step in, you have something to offer. And in the midst of offering it, you’re not only modeling something about how to deal with it, but you’re also helping other people get their hands and heads around what’s going on, and how to go about dealing with it.

So good leadership, I think, has the ability to have this courage, to step in to the difficult space, to the difficult place, and to have something to offer once you step in, because you have all these other components that you’ve brought with you that make it, that allow you to function even in the midst of the difficulties.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. So I’m hearing us putting together these two things, courage, and compassion together. So you can have your convictions on one hand, that you don’t let go of those convictions. But you have the kid of character where you’re able to be charitable and winsome in your discussions.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s exactly right. And so … And you do it in a way that causes people to reflect. I often tell people that engagement oftentimes … sometimes the best thing to do is to not make a statement, but to ask a question, or to make an observation. And the question or the observation is designed to give the person on the other side of it the opportunity to just step back and pause and think through what’s going on. Again, I come back to Acts 17. What Paul does, after initially commending his audience for their spiritual … for the openness to spirituality, is to talk about what their connection to idolatry means. And he causes them … he’s hoping to give them pause about where they … “Do you really think you can confine the creator, God, to a building?” Just think about that for a second. That’s designed to give you pause. It takes courage to go there. And so, he doesn’t step back.

Another thing that takes courage is, Paul understood, when he was introduced at Mars Hill, that they didn’t introduce him this way, “We’d like to welcome this apostle who’s part of a new religious movement that we really are finding fascinating, and we’re curious about. And we think he has something very significant to say to us, so we invited the apostle Paul to come and address us, and we’re all ears.” No. They viewed him as a cultural curiosity. They described him as a seed picker. That’s like a little bird that flits from this to this to this to this. And the suggestion is, a mile wide and an inch deep. That’s the way they were viewing Paul. But he has the courage to step into that situation and address them as honestly and directly, and try to serve them, despite their attitude, as he engages them.

All of that takes courage. All of that involves risk. And the key risk is having enough security in your identity in the Lord, and the security that that gives you to be able to take the flack and the push back and everything else that will come from taking the risk, to step into that space. A good leader understands that often will happen, that not every … when you step into the fray, not everyone’s gonna be on your side. Or, another way to think about it … this is one of the ways in which our culture has changed … is we’ve gone from being the home team to being the visitors. And in the midst of being the visitors, we get all the pressure, not just of playing the home team, but of playing the audience that’s rooting for the home team. And so, that takes … To play well on the road takes a particular fortitude, ’cause a lot of people are yelling against you, as you’re doing what you’re doing. That all takes courage.

Bill Hendricks
Well, and on top of that, meanwhile, back at the ranch, if we’re the visiting team, back home you got some people that are mad about the fact that we’re no longer the home team. And they’re not happy that you’re out there on the road, frankly. To extend the metaphor, they’re … sometimes there’s people … you’re not only taking flack from the culture around you, but you’re taking flack on the back from people that formerly you thought they were on your team, but they’re made that you’re even out there trying to engage.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right. And the best thing they would think you could do is just withdraw and get out of it. And the flack … But when you withdraw and get out of it, look what you’re doing. You’re actually creating a vacuum. You’re creating a vacuum in which there is no counter voice. And when … and that space fills. That space fills with something. So to withdraw …
Bill Hendricks
It’s a concession.
Dr. Darrell Bock
It’s a concession. And so, this courage is extremely important for the leader, the ability to step into that space, and engage, in some cases challenge, but to do so in a way that, at the same time, is inviting, because think about the way in which God initiated getting our attention. The way he initiated getting our attention was to come into our lives, was to engage with us.
Bill Hendricks
And that’s when we were enemies.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Bill Hendricks
Like you said, we didn’t throw him a parade when he came. The people that threw him a parade ended up putting him on a cross.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Back in that I Peter 3 passage that we were talking about there’s a line that says, “The just for the unjust to bring you,” he’s talking about his readers, ” to God.” And he’s reminding them where they were at the start. We’re all in the same boat. Everybody needs God, without exception. The person who’s accepted what God offers, and the person who hasn’t accepted what God offers. Everyone needs God. And what we are trying to do is to say, “Look. Just as God took the initiative with us, when we had our backs turned, we know what that’s like. I know where you’ve been, and I think there’s a much better place to be than the place where you are.
Bill Hendricks
And this is why I get so excited about our brothers and sisters who are working in fields like journalism, and the arts, and entertainment, and business, and government, and messy spaces. But they’re believers who are saying, “We want to take our faith with us when we go to work, ’cause we want to make a difference here. And we want to show what Jesus would do in this space.”
Dr. Darrell Bock
And one of the side things of that, of course, is that we’re all believer priests. Every one of us. Doesn’t matter what our vocation is, doesn’t matter what our calling is, ’cause we all have a calling. God has put us all in a space, in a place to minister, and leaders in the church who are vocational in their Christian commitment in terms of being in the church and trying to inspire others about their walk, need to be sensitive to the fact that everyone has a calling, and everyone has a place. That takes courage, too, because a lot of times people think that the vocational task that they’re engaged in has little or nothing to do with their Christian life, and their Christian walk. When in fact …
Bill Hendricks
It has everything to do with it.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And it has everything to do with God’s program. I like to tell people that churches are ignoring the most basic evangelistic program that God put in place when he made us to begin with, which was to steward the creation well. Well, how are we gonna steward the creation well is we don’t have farmers and workers and technicians, et cetera, and doctors and lawyers, people who lay the concrete on the ground so we can get from point A to point B.
Bill Hendricks
And think God for garbage collectors.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Just go through. Yeah. Don’t even think about what happens if that doesn’t get picked up. And so, you’ve got all these vocations that exist, that God has called us to regard as a way of serving one another, as we steward the creation well together, which is the creation mandate. And in the midst of that, it takes courage, and it takes leadership to step into that and say and affirm, everyone has a space and place that God has put them in. And God’s evangelistic program is to spread people out across the creation, in a variety of vocations, so they can rub shoulders with other people. I sometimes tease people that the Great Commission says, “Go into all the world.” Well actually, God’s already sent you there.
Bill Hendricks
You don’t have to go far.
Dr. Darrell Bock
You can try and shut that off, but you’re already in that game. So, how do we inspire people in the midst of that to be what God has called them to be where he has them?
Mikel Del Rosario
I like how Bill mentioned people, and all these media and politics and all these different places that you mentioned as well. If Christians don’t step up to the table, if we don’t have a space at the table, then our voice won’t be heard, and we’ll see less and less Christian influence in society. So we need to be out there.

Brings us to the last … it’s already been implicit in our conversation. The last C is the idea of character. And so we think of all kinds of different things that come to mind, maybe, when you hear the word character. How would you define character in this regard?

Dr. Darrell Bock
Well, in this case, character that we’re talking about is the character that images the presence and power of God. We’re talking about the fruit of the spirit, which actually is very relational. We’re talking about authenticity. We’re talking about integrity. We’re talking about genuineness. We’re talking about a person who has nothing to hide. There are a lot of ways to think about what character is. And we need the spirit of God to have this character. It’s not something we have instinctive. You don’t default to character. And so … And that’s the core. I can have all the reading I want around me. I can have all the courage. I can have all the compassion in the world. But if I don’t have character, it’s not gonna ______.
Mikel Del Rosario
How do you see the character piece playing into the faith and work conversation?
Bill Hendricks
Well, this is why the spiritual formation piece is so important. In other words, somebody’s personal relationship with Christ. And that doesn’t just happen. That’s something that a person intentionally meets with God on a daily, if not hourly basis, to bring them self back before God, and try to hear God’s voice, and understand his word, and be in his presence, so that his Spirit begins to change our character, transform our inner person, ’cause everything goes from the inside out. And that happens over time.

And that’s why, when you go to work, you asked about the workplace tie in, to often people may be Christians, but functionally speaking, they’re pure secularists when they go to work in that they leave God at home. And they need to bring him with them. I need to be praying over the task in front of me. I need to be praying about the people around me. I need to be praying about the meeting I’m getting ready to go into. I need to be talking with God about the decision I’m getting ready to make, and invite his presence and power to demonstrate themselves in those moments. If we did, I think we’d see a lot different things happening in our work. But we gotta apply those spiritual disciplines to our work in order for that to happen.

Dr. Darrell Bock
So we seek to shape compassionate and courageous leaders. And we do that by training leaders to possess biblical agility in shifting times. And when we do that, when we put that package together, it’s a very … and that only happens through the power of the Spirit of God. But when that happens, you have a person who can deal with anything fresh that comes their way. They … It isn’t that they have a rote answer. In fact, the answer that they might have is the recognition that the answer in this particular situation is particularly complex. But they know not only how they should deal with the situation, but they know how to lead other people into and through the situation. And in the context of the shifting times that we’ve been talking about, that skill is essential. It requires boldness, it requires being prophetic, it requires a comfort zone with their own status before God that’s willing to take the push back. And in the midst of all that, they’re able to develop that skill to read and react to what’s in front of them, so they know when the opportunity comes they know how to seize it.
Mikel Del Rosario
An image that comes to my mind, just after our entire conversation here, is that image of an ambassador who’s able to interact, to engage with people who see Christianity differently than they do, whether you’re talking to that skeptical relative or your skeptical friend at work, but walking with someone before they get to the crossroads, before the gospel becomes a challenge, even, in their lives, so that we can be the kinds of leaders who can teach truth and love well, who can lead with courage and compassion.
Dr. Darrell Bock
And a good ambassador doesn’t just live in the embassy. He gets out and gets to know the people of the country, the foreign country that he resides in.
Bill Hendricks
Well, that’s their job.
Mikel Del Rosario
That’s right.
Dr. Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well, thank you so much for being with us. Our time has flown by, but it’s been an amazing conversation. Thank you, Bill, for being with us.
Bill Hendricks
You’re welcome. Thank you.
Mikel Del Rosario
Thank you, Darrell.
Dr. Darrell Bock
Pleasure.
Mikel Del Rosario
And we thank you again so much for joining us on The Table. Stay with us next time when we continue to discuss issues of God and culture.
Read More
Bill Hendricks
Bill Hendricks is Executive Director for Christian Leadership at the Center and President of The Giftedness Center, where he serves individuals making key life and career decisions. A graduate of Harvard, Boston University, and DTS, Bill has authored or co-authored twenty-two books, including “The Person Called YOU: Why You’re Here, Why You Matter & What You Should Do With Your Life.” He sits on the Steering Committee for The Theology of Work Project.
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Mikel Del Rosario
Mikel Del Rosario is a doctoral student in New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Project Manager for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center, and Adjunct Professor of Apologetics and World Religion at William Jessup University. Mikel co-authors The Table Briefing articles for Bibliotheca Sacra, manages the Table Podcast, and helps Christians defend the faith with confidence though his apologetics ministry. He holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from DTS and an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University.
Diversity
Jun 18, 2019
Elijah MisigaroElijah MisigaroNancy FrazierNancy FrazierSamuel LeeSamuel LeeMikel Del RosarioMikel Del Rosario
Diverse Views on Multicultural Conversations In this episode Mikel Del Rosario, Elijah Misigaro, Sam Lee, and Nancy Frazier discuss diverse views on multicultural conversations, focusing on creating a culture of inclusion.
Arts & Media
Jun 11, 2019
Michael J. SvigelMichael J. SvigelNatalie CarnesNatalie CarnesReg GrantReg GrantTimothy S. YoderTimothy S. YoderDarrell L. BockDarrell L. Bock
A Theology of Art and Beauty In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock, Reg Grant, Michael J. Svigel, Timothy S. Yoder, and Natalie Carnes discuss a theology of art and beauty.