Yesterday, April 6, 2011 the Masland Library had the pleasure of meeting the internationally renowned historian, Dr. Jonathan Steinberg. He is responsible for the generous donation of roughly thirteen hundred books to the PBU library, contributing to the University’s efforts of adding a History major to the curriculum.
Upon hearing of Dr. Steinberg’s accomplishments, I immediately wanted to draw from his wisdom. During the near thirty minutes it took me to formulate a question, I reflected on my life. I thought to myself, “what can I ask this highly respected historian about, that will be relevant to me?” I did not want to merely gain knowledge about facts; I wanted to walk away with a new perspective. After finally racking up some courage, I approached him. My question to him was, “In your opinion, what would you consider important qualities for a leader to possess?”
Throughout my life I have been given various leadership positions; whether it be in church, work, or a simple group project, it is always an honor to lead people. So I was eager to hear what Dr. Steinberg had to say. To my pleasant surprise, he gave me more than I even expected. He explained that depending on what you are leading, these necessary qualities may shift. In reaction, I asked him about his experience as the chairman in the history department at the University of Pennsylvania. He mentioned that a leader that is in charge of a board should be able to seamlessly lead a team by simultaneously allowing each member to do what they want to do and being an example of how you desire them to be. It is as almost as if the team can hardly tell that they have a boss. This is due to the fact that their leader actually respectfully works with them, instead of being an overbearing dictator. Dr. Steinberg emphasized the ability to lead by example other than explanation. It was at this point in the conversation that I was enlightened. His statements probed my ideas and thoughts. Dr. Steinberg confirmed my belief that the people I lead should be able to perceive my values and passions by simply examining how I conduct my life.
What is interesting enough, is the direct correlation his view on leadership has with my belief on Christianity; not just in leadership, but in my faith as a whole. In John 13:34-35, Jesus commands believers to love one another. He says, “by this (loving one another) everyone will know that you are my disciples.” In this verse the reader can see that the type of love Jesus is talking about is an active verb. We must literally live to love and by how we live; men should be drawn to us. Think about the people you have authority over in your life; if you never said a word to them, would they still be able to follow your lead? In the broader perspective, think of the unbelievers you come in contact with. Are you a living example of what you want to see in others? As a Christian, we want to see souls be changed by the power of Christ. But are we living as though He has changed us?
Talking with Dr. Steinberg was such an amazing experience. He is the most interesting person to talk to because he does not use his vast background of knowledge to stomp on the intelligence of others. By interacting with him I could clearly sense his genuine interest. It is so refreshing to meet different individuals that are passionate about life and learning. I hope PBU has the privilege to host Dr. Steinberg again.
For more information on Dr. Jonathan Steinberg: http://www.history.upenn.edu/faculty/steinberg.shtml
For more information on the Steinberg collection at Philadelphia Biblical University.