On Thursday and Friday of last week, I attended the Global Leadership Summit, a leadership conference I've attended for probably the last 10-12 years or so. The Summit features a diverse faculty of presenters - some I've heard of before, some I've not - and every year I walk away having learned worthwhile lessons that can shape my leadership and ministry. (Check out some of the ways I benefited from previous years' Summits by clicking here and here.)
This year, one of the things that grabbed my attention most wasn't one of the speakers (though certain speakers did grab my attention as well), but one of the video segments they showed between speakers on Thursday. This segment featured fighter pilot instructor Lt Colonel Mark "Kaiser" Schmidt, and highlighted the influence he was having in his role.
What stood out to me what that this instructor - this teacher - wasn't known primarily for technical expertise. To be fair, I'm sure he is very competent technically. He's good at what he does as a pilot, or he wouldn't have gotten to where he is as a fighter pilot instructor. But what what came again and again in the video is that Kaiser's influence comes through in how he pairs competence with care and character. Kaiser doesn't just see his role as passing along information; he wants to help his pilots become better people. One quote that I jotted down from the video captures this: "Our wingmen won’t remember what I taught them about basic fighter maneuvers. But they’ll remember how they felt around me. They’ll remember that I cared.”
As someone who does a fair amount of teaching myself, I was grateful for both the encouragement and the challenge Kaiser's example offers. I'm not a fighter pilot instructor; I teach a lot of Bible and theology. But the lesson has obvious overlap: I don't want to be so focused on technical competence in my own field of study that I neglect the valuable role that care and character plays in the broader teaching relationship.
Good stuff. Thanks for the reminder, #GLS16.
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