The Spiked Unification News

Leadership Through Service

Peter Cavanagh
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"I hate him, I hate him, I don't like him and I'm leaving."

In August of 1979, having been associated with the Unification Church for only three months, I was doing my utmost to find a excuse to leave it. I wanted to leave even before officially joining because I came to America from England for a specific reason and the church was now standing in the way of realizing this. Therefore, I was extremely interested in any negative information about the church, be it a newspaper, book, ex-member or complaining member. The quote above, made by a Unification member, immediately drew my attention. Why would this member say "I hate my leader"? After all, in the twenty-one day workshop I had heard so many testimonies of how wonderful the early and current leaders were. Even though I believed in the first part of Divine Principle, I was unsure of the role of Rev. Moon. I was first drawn to the Unification Church not because of any personality, workshop atmosphere or by so called "love bombing," but rather because of the Divine Principle, especially the section on Creation.

I discovered that this member disliked his leader intensely because he felt pushed rather than motivated in his church work; this had made him very resentful.

Since the age of sixteen until meeting the church at age twenty-three, I had supported myself and became quite cynical about human nature. When I heard the Divine Principle lectures, I came to the conclusion that Rev. Moon was either one of the world's greatest charlatans, a sincere self-deluded man or the genuine article. With the help of Neil Salonen, I eventually (one year later) decided that he was the latter. Neil Salonen was one of the few Unification Church leaders that had a lasting impact on me. Even though I was involved with Salonen for only a few weeks, he motivated me to make a commitment to the church because he was able to win my trust.

I was raised in England with its class culture. Americans were refreshingly different to me. they seemed to be open, honest and were not confined by the same class consciousness of England. Salonen seemed to have those qualities that I admired in Americans. At this time (1979) Salonen was the president of the American unification Church and IOWC leader. I've since learnt that he was under a lot of pressure at that time. And yet he always had time for everybody. My overall impression of him is that he was fair, firm, confident, accessible and had the ability to motivate people.

Dale Carnegie said that dealing with people is probably the most difficult problem you face. In fact Salonen had many of the qualities expounded by Carnegie. In his book "How to win friends and influence people," Carnegie quotes John D. Rockerfeller:

"The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee, and I pay more for that ability than any other under the sun"

Research by the Carnegie Foundation for the advancement of teaching found that even in engineering, only fifteen percent of one's financial success is due to technical knowledge, while eighty percent is due to one's ability to lead people.

Bernard Shaw said, " If you teach a man anything, he will never learn." learning is an active process we learn by doing. Rev. moon has said that children learn and follow the examples of their parents. So too in leadership, members learn from what is done, not what is taught.

I believe that many Unification Church members follow their leaders because they believe in Rev. Moon and the Divine Principle. It is by virtue of these beliefs that members have followed their leaders and because Rev. Moon appointed those very leaders; and not because the leaders won their positions by their ability to handle people. This inability to deal with people has created much resentment, not only in our church but also within the world at large.

In contrast to my experience with Salonen, my worst experience was under an American leader (UTS graduate). Even though both my wife and I had been members of the church for fifteen and ten years respectively and had two children, we had no autonomy whatsoever. This leader wanted to micromanage everything and in contrast to Carnegie's view on how to handle people, criticized, condemned and complained to members publicly. As a result of this leader, the state center was not a happy place. Both full-time members and home-members were not motivated to do anything.

At this time one member even told a Christian minister who was considering joining the church not to do so, because he would be treated better as an outsider. This leader could not criticize constructively or motivate in a manner that members were able to receive without resentment. No one volunteered to do anything.

Good leadership is absolutely essential for the future of our church, as it is in any organization. A leader has to know how to motivate people. A 1991 survey by the "Christian Ministry" found that 64 percent of its readers (many are ministers) are concerned about the lack of volunteers. Also a "Search Institute" study of 11000 people in 500 American congregations found that 58 percent of Christian leaders say that recruitment of volunteers is a major problem.

The question I ask myself is what motivates people to volunteer? Some people are volunteers because it gives them a sense of importance a feeling of being needed. Some feel guilty and volunteer in order to feel better. This is a motivation that some churches play upon to get volunteers. And finally, there is the motivation stemming from a sense of values; helping others is important.

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In our Unification Church we are entering a new era in that members are becoming home members in ever increasing numbers. Therefore, the question for a leader must be how can one motivate members and non-members to volunteer? This is a serious question for us, especially if our church continues to grow at such a slow rate and if it has to depend on older members who now have family responsibilities.

The concept of micro-management is as old as Moses. Moses was convinced of the inefficiency of micro-management, of trying to manage everything himself (Ex. 18:13). The struggle for balance between leadership and hyper-control continues in our church as it does in others, resulting in conflict and resentment. The issue is not always one of authority, it is also an issue of leadership style.

A dominant leader often wants to control and manage all the details and determine every decision. Such a person is afraid of losing his position and wants to control everything in sight. He is his own worst enemy and can't understand why members want to leave his organization.

Micro-management can frustrate members and disrupt the church. While a few members may actually like a leader to take over their work, most people are hampered by over-supervision.

A situation that may be appropriate for the use of micro-management is that of a crises. In the early years of the Unification Movement, the church seemed to lurch from one crises to another. As a captain must grip the helm of his ship in a storm, a leader needs to assert more attention to detail when a crises arises. The hands-off leader would have an uncomfortable situation if he is not involved when trouble comes.

The same principle could be applied to our church. Today the Unification Church has, for the most part, passed out of its crises situation. Rev. Moon is decentralizing the American church; direct control of all aspects of church life is never advisable because of the devastating effect it has on spiritual life and volunteerism.

If a project does not motivate members to action, the leader has to convince his members of the importance of the project. However, some leaders often resort to pushing. Push-leadership is unpleasant to the pushed. In the Unification Church some projects have failed because they did not capture the hearts of members, To ensure the future of our church we need leaders who are visionary and who do not resort to push leadership. I define the term visionary leader as a person who addresses the needs of the future and prepares for them. Such leaders anticipate that some members may not accept or understand their ideas. A visionary leader does not want to maintain the status quo of the church and does not worry about competition. He would chose to work with his members rather than push or steam-roll them.

I believe that it is possible for an American, or a person of any nationality, to be seen as a good leader by a mixed group of Unification members. Most American leaders tend to be accessible; openness invites members to talk freely and to share their ideas. When members participate in decisions that effect them they are more willing to invest themselves. However, group decision making needs more skill and patience than the push-method allows for.

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Unification Church members have followed their leaders because Rev. Moon appointed them; this is especially true in Japan. Even though a leader may be accepted externally, his success would be limited unless he can really serve his members and understand them.

Carnegi said: "The rare individual who unselfishly serves others has an enormous advantage over others, he has little competition."

What the Unification Church needs is visionary leaders who can motivate people through their service. Visionary leadership is a leader who says "Here is what we can do" and members who say "we can do that." Until these two factors come together, peak leadership in our church will never occur. If we have leadership through service, no longer will we hear "I hate him, I'm leaving" but rather "I love him, I'm staying."

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