President Barack Obamahas been taking a lot of heat lately for saying that no one person has built a business by him or herself.
I’m glad Christians recognize the Scripture reference immediately. Just because the eye has the vision doesn’t mean it can move the Body. Just because the hand can lift doesn’t mean it can carry the Body. Just because the foot can walk doesn’t mean it can direct the Body.
Recently, I was reading an inspirational book that described how several great leaders had allowed us to realize that what we thought was impossible was, in fact, possible:
Great Leaders Achieve the ‘Impossible’
- Charles Lindbergh shattered our belief that we’d never fly across the Atlantic.
- Test pilot Chuck Yeager shattered our belief that the speed of flight was limited by the sound barrier.
- Astronaut Neil Armstrong shattered our belief that the moon was unattainable when he took that “one small step.”
It is, of course, inspiring to know that we are constantly stepping past what we once imagined were boundaries. A company I used to work for helped to develop some of the software for the dashboard GPS I use today, shattering my belief that I was forever doomed to waste hours making wrong turns.
At the same time, it seems important to realize how large the teams are that accomplish these barrier-breaking projects:
Great Teams Achieve the Impossible
- Charles Lindberg was funded by nine businessmen; then assessed existing aeronautical firms’ abilities to construct the aircraft we now know as The Spirit of St. Louis. Without the commitment of funds and without Ryan Aeronautical, there would not have been a trans-Atlantic flight.
- Yeager’s flight was possible because Bell Aircraft developed the X-1 in which he flew. The aircraft was developed jointly over two years with funding by the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), a U.S. government agency. When President Harry Truman awarded the National Aeronautics Association Collier Trophy in 1948, it went not just to Yeager but also representatives of Bell and NACA.
- The American people invested $25.4 billion over eight years (the equivalent of more than $150 billion today) in the Apollo space program that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. At its peak, the program employed 400,000 people. President Dwight Eisenhower had conceived the moon mission; President John F. Kennedy proposed it to Congress in 1961.
Personally, I’ve become a fan of how the movies make note of all the people who create the magic. The actors may get first billing, but if you sit through the credits you’ll see the names of every person who had anything to do with creating that film’s success. My husband and I always wait to the very end, hoping to see the names of acquaintances who make props and create visual effects among those long lists that include payroll accountants, greens keepers, and hair dressers.
Every great achievement has a face or two at its front. The nature of spiritual giftedness tells us that every team effort requires some with vision and leadership; some who are gifted in the many kinds of essential service.
Great Leaders Can’t Build It Alone
Where people go off the rails is when they forget that the face at the front can’t “build it” alone. A pastor is not a pastor without a church. An executive is not an executive without a corporation. A small business owner is not a business owner without a business. And in the eyes of God, the face at the front has no more value than the custodian at the back.
God has given each one gifts for the good of all, and has put the Body together so that its parts should have equal concern for each other (1 Cor 12: 7, 24-25, paraphrase).
President Obama understands that. Christians understand that. Let’s hope we can be the kind of salt and light that will allow our culture to understand that as well.