By John Redmond
One of the great ironies of many successful religious movements is that they almost always start from failure — from a secular and mainstream point of view. Christianity had its charismatic young leader crucified as a rabble rouser for tipping over the tables in the temple. Christians spent years in intellectual gymnastics explaining how the messiah was born an illegitimate child and killed as a criminal.
The Pilgrim Fathers were driven out of England, as were many of the other colonists who settled in the New World. The Latter Day Saints (Mormons) were driven westward to the American desert to die, their founder lynched and religion mocked.
Yet these movements found multi-generational success in preaching, modeling and promoting the values and doctrines that gave them fulfillment and improved the culture around them.
This doesn’t happen by accident. Successfully attracting and maintaining believers over multiple generations and changing the values of a culture requires a combination of good leadership and good management, and they are not the same thing.
Leadership requires communicating and validating a shared vision to a group of people you may or may not control. Reverend Moon could cast that vision, and many people, even those uncomfortable with his management style, could agree with that large and inclusive ideal and, perhaps more importantly, sense the heart behind it.
Management is the control of money, processes and people to achieve a desired product or outcome. I’ve never been impressed with many Unification managers, who mostly mean well, but have little success or training from the real world on which to base their decisions. They mostly default to Theory X management, micro-managing the behavior of their members rather than nurturing their goals, activities and creativity — or they swing to the other side, to religious-based trust and out-of-control management systems. A movement with a great vision but poor management may succeed, but its progress is measured in millennia rather than years.