Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Secure in Council

September 10th, 2015 by G.

Secure authority is good authority. But as above, so below. Secure followers are good followers.

Reading Herodotus is good for fun, for putting on airs, for speculating on the credulity of the man, and for lots of other things. But one great thing its good for is catalyzing insights from your own experience that somehow failed to be catalyzed by the dreary social studies textbook on the role of progressive fads throughout history. For instance, whenever the big men of antiquity want advice, their counselors are always careful to pave the ground for anything negative they might say with lots of bowings and scrapings. Whenever someone wants to advise the King of Kings against something, they flower it up and ask permission and even extract a promise that they won’t be punished for it.  Some of that is just social lubricant.  A lot of it, though, is fear.

At least as Herodotus saw it, insecure followers was a real cause of instability in rule. Almost the opening incident he relates is the captain of the guards or somesuch usurping the throne of Lydia or somewhere because the King kept telling the captain how beautiful the King’s wife was, naked, and the captain said he could well believe it, but the King insisted that the captain was just being polite and needed to see to believe. So he ordered the captain to spy her out naked, over the captain’s objections. She found out what happened and approached the captain with this proposition: kill her husband for subjecting her to that infamy, or else she was going to cry rape and have the captain killed.

Or there’s the story of the Medean advisor who engineered the Persian ascendancy after the Medean ruler forced him to eat his son as punishment. The Medean ruler had given the advisor a crazy order to kill the Medean ruler’s grandson, and the advisor had botched the job by taking precautions to make sure that following the order didn’t make the ruler angry at him down the line.

The way bad information (false but optimistic information) makes it to the top in a dictatorship while bad information (true but negative information) is suppressed is too well-known to be worth much discussion.  “Don’t shoot the messenger” is plea.  No one pleads for what they take for granted.

shoot the messenger



Followership can be a pretty insecure thing. That insecurity tends to filter upwards. Insecure followers are bad followers.

In recent years my wife was the president of a Stake auxiliary. She told me recently about one meeting with the Stake Presidency and the High Council where she proposed a change to a long-lasting stake policy. She didn’t feel any need to belabor the point or to politic it, nor did she feel timid about it either. She said that she knew from experience that her thoughts were respected and well-received, she knew from experience that she’d get a fair hearing, and she also knew that the final decision wasn’t hers so there was no need to pull strings. After a brief discussion, she was tasked to implement the change, no muss, no fuss.

She got me thinking about my own success at running succinct Cub Scout Committee meetings (I am the chairman).  I used to pride myself that they went well because I whipped us through.  This morning I also pride myself on usually changing my mind when one of the committee has a disagreement, and on asking intelligent questions to make sure I understand the nature of the disagreement. The result is that no one talks to reassure themselves that they belong, and no one feels the need to argue.

In business these days, no one is afraid they’ll be punished if they talk in a meeting.  The insecurity comes in in the status jockeying.  People ramble on to justify themselves to themselves and others.  Gotta impress the boss to avoid being fired or to get in line for promotion.  Status isn’t secure either upward or downward, so the meeting manifests that insecurity. Office politics is nasty as a result.

You can become a better follower by becoming more secure. Paradoxically, knowing that Christ loves you unconditionally should make you more willing to obey his commandments, not less—which is usually the result we see.

You can be a good leader by not shaking your follower. Show them respect and listen to their advice. But shut down status games.

Still, security is a condition, not a guarantee, of success. Bad leaders and bad followers probably need more insecurity (more opportunities for negative feedback), not less.



Comments (3)
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September 10th, 2015 12:00:36

September 10, 2015

“for speculating on the credulity of the man,”

I recall hearing C. Wilford Griggs give a guest lecture at the Jedi Temple in which he discussed this very theme. He compared Herodotus with the modern Middle Eastern tourist being shaken down by the locals to see the exact site where Orson Pratt anointed Ben-David Gurion to be the first Emperor of Israel, or something like that.

Good thoughts on leadership, too. His Majesty was surprised to find me more solicitous of his well-being after his retirement than before. So was I.

September 10, 2015

GMTA. I recently discovered Bloom County had been restarted too. I had thought BB permanently retired years ago.

It doesn’t reach the philosophical heights of Calvin and Hobbes, but the bathos seems to fit the JrG geist. Would a side-bar link be in order?

(Note, Bloom County, and Bloom County 2015 can be found at gocomics.com)

September 11, 2015

I liked the original Bloom County. I want to like the new one, but this is the cartoonist who referred to 9/11 as “Bush and Cheney’s fake war.” That puts a little bit of a damper on my enthusiasm, even if he’s now right about Trump.

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