E-Link, September 2010
Bob Fryling is Publisher of InterVarsity Press and has recently written a book called The Leadership Ellipse: Shaping How We Lead by Who We Are.
Bob will be a speaker at the ECPA CEO Symposium, providing insights and
devotional practices for building our spiritual lives in the context of
our organizational leadership. Here is an excerpt from Bob's book:
In her book, The Creature's Choir, Carmen Bernos DeGasztold
wrote a delightful collection of poems putting prayers in the mouths of
animals and birds. My favorite of these poems is "The Peacock," in which
this regal bird is debating its own identity. It is proud of its
external beauty and presence but it is humbled by its "discordant cry"
and "meager heart." The peacock ends its lament with the request "Lord,
let a day come, a heavenly day, when my inner and outer selves will be
reconciled in perfect harmony."
I believe that the yearning of this prayer is consciously or
unconsciously at the core of every Christian leader who seeks to lead
others with greater spiritual integrity. But it also highlights the
dissonance between our inner and outer worlds. As leaders this discord
often is experienced in the clash between our external leadership
responsibilities and our internal spiritual lives.
Unfortunately, much of my experience has been that these two worlds
of public organizational success principles and private spiritual
disciplines don't readily intersect or necessarily inform each other. As
a leader I have sometimes felt forced or have chosen to live in a
dichotomized world that segmented my internal spiritual life from my
external life of leadership.
Even trying to evaluate these two worlds seems to create
irreconcilable differences. Much of my external world is measured by my
accomplishments according to planned objectives and goals and bottom
line accountabilities. In contrast, I tend to evaluate my internal world
by a sense of spiritual peace - which often is more a factor of
sufficient rest than that of being closer to God.
In fact the very practice of measurement, which is a foundational
principle of organizational life, seems suspect in the realm of
spirituality. The spiritual virtue of "letting go" seems like leadership
suicide. Because of this, I have often felt like the proverbial person
who had his head in the oven and his feet in the freezer but on the
average felt okay!
I necessarily asked myself, "Is the world of success so different
from the world of the soul that I just have to live with this split
personality and hope that God is okay with this kind of "average" life? I
alternatively have struggled with the opposite temptations to just
retreat from organizational leadership because it was too hard or
conversely, to reject the interior life because it seemed so irrelevant.
Christian leaders today need to embrace and embody both our internal
relationship with God and our external relationship with others. We
cannot successfully separate or isolate our interior life from our
exterior life. Both are part of who we truly are. The more there is
harmony and integrity between who we are in the deepest recesses of our
being and in the most visible expressions of our lives, the more we will
be authentic to both ourselves and others.
The Bible eloquently describes and illustrates that we are all in the
midst of a spiritual battle – the battle between "the flesh and the
spirit", the battle between our compulsions to sin and our commitments
to God. It is a struggle and we have this struggle both internally and
externally. We wrestle with what we think and what we say, in what we
feel and how we act.
So we may communicate authenticity by being vulnerable in what we
say, but we may be using our vulnerability for soliciting the affections
of others. Or we may develop our piety in solitude but then control
others for our own purposes through our aura of spirituality. The
temptation for self-promotion is never far from anyone in leadership.
Authentic Christian leadership means that we are living with a
harmony of our inner and outer lives and it is through the practice of
spiritual disciplines that God so often composes and directs this
harmony in our lives.
Bob Fryling began his time
with InterVarsity as a chapter president at Drexel University where he
earned his bachelor's degree in metallurgical engineering. He worked at
Ford Motor Co. in research and development and later earned his master's
degree in Inter-cultural Studies at Wheaton Graduate School.
His career track at InterVarsity includes Campus Staff Member, Area
Director, Regional Director, Director of Human Resources, Director of
Strategic Planning and for fourteen years National Director of Campus
Ministries. Bob has taught and written in the areas of leadership,
spiritual formation and Christian engagement with contemporary culture.
His most recent book is The Leadership Ellipse:Shaping How We Lead by
Who We Are. (2010)
Bob was appointed Publisher
of InterVarsity Press (Westmont, Illinois) and Senior Vice President of
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in 1997. Since that time IVP has been
awarded the top ranking category for Best Christian Places to Work for
four consecutive times and was also declared to be in the Top 10 of all
book publishing companies to work for by Book Business in 2009.
Bob and his wife Alice have two married daughters and four
grandchildren. Alice has authored eight books, conducts workshops in the
Myers Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram and has a full ministry
as a trained spiritual director. Bob and Alice live in Woodridge, Il.