Successful leader is in partnership with God, former executive says
July 21, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Dan Gangler
Cal Turner, the former president of Dollar General retail stores, addresses the 9th National Gathering of United Methodist Men.
By Daniel R. Gangler*
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (UMNS)—The first step toward achieving faithful
leadership involves digging down deeply within yourself and dealing with
your own shadows, according to the former head of a national retail
Cal Turner Jr., retired president of the nationwide Dollar General
chain, told more than 300 United Methodist men that a successful leader
knows chaos is eliminated when the leader realizes “people need to be
empowered and not restricted. Everyone wants to be part of something.”
Turner, a United Methodist from Nashville, Tenn., shared his remarks
at the annual John Wesley Fellow Dinner July 16 during the 9th National
Gathering of United Methodist Men at Purdue University.
He told the assembly successful leaders have shadows or misconceptions to overcome. Those misconceptions include:
- Who I am depends on what I do;
- Life is a battleground and the universe is hostile;
- I can overcome natural chaos.
The shadows are overcome when one is in partnership with God, just as John Wesley was a partner with God, he said.
The partnership is realized, Turner added, when one learns that “it’s
not about me. It’s about God and my partnership with God. I constantly
affirm I’m a child of God.”
He told the men that although life may sometimes be a battleground,
“there is a power of God to do good even in the worst of life’s
Turner, reared in the Scottsville (Ky.) Methodist Church, vividly
recalled being 11 when he realized that Jesus Christ died for everyone,
Later, he was told by a pastor not to seek ordained ministry. So he
followed in the footsteps of his father. “I didn’t want to get into the
family business, but I had to be the boss’ son. That’s who I was.”
It wasn’t easy taking over the family business and overcoming negative issues, but, he said, the business became his ministry.
|A UMNS photo by Dan Gangler
Paul Saik performs during the 9th National Gathering of United Methodist Men.
“Leading is difficult,” Turner explained. To be a good leader, “get
so immersed in something that failure is not an option. God will help
you make it? We underestimate the power of God. We need to be his
partner every day.”
Turner believes his business succeeded because good people helped
other good people. Jesus had the opportunity to serve God when Jesus
served among the people, he said.
His presentation began by quoting John Wesley. “Nothing that I have
is mine. My blessings come in full measure from God.” He said Wesley
didn’t fear that the people called Methodist would die as a movement,
but that Methodism would become a dead sect of a former religion without
the power both of doctrine and discipline.
“How are the Methodists doing?” Turner asked. “Are we the sect without power and only form?”
The church today has been diminished by its leaders in character
formation, private and public morality, and failure to address the
issues of poverty, literacy, violence and drugs, he said. “I’m concerned
about God-centered leadership that John Wesley was talking about.”
Near the end of his address, Turner apologized for his strong words
about the church’s leadership, but noted that “We can witness for Christ
today. We can give our substance. In our generation, let us give God
all our love and faithful service? May the Lord Jesus Christ and the
Holy Spirit of God empower you and me to respond with powership,
stewardship and leadership. Being God’s partner is the greatest honor of
*Gangler is director of communications for the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org