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The Leadership of Reverend Terry Jones

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icon-9So, if you haven’t heard, Reverend Terry Jones is the pastor of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida and is planning an “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11, 2010.

Supporters have been sending Jones copies of the Quran, the Islamic holy book, so that the books can be burned to commemorate the September 11, 2001 attacks and send a message that “Islam is of the devil.”

Jones’s actions have sparked an outcry from Muslims around the world, as well as religious and political leaders that are condemning what he has done.

There is no doubt that Jones is intentionally provoking Muslims in the name of Christianity and the United States. Jones is doing all he can to leverage the U.S. media to cover his story so that he can push his agenda.

With all of that being said, it’s Jones’s leadership qualities that fascinate me most about the entire story. Taking a page out of “Stocking Your Leadership Super-Powers,” here’s what I think about Jones’s leadership.

How has Reverend Terry Jones Rallied Support? First of all, Jones is clear on his purpose. Jones thinks that Islam is the devil, and that sentiment resonates with people who are intolerant with Muslims.

Supporters agree with Jones that burning the Qurans will send a clear message that they stand strong against radical Islam, the groups of Muslims that believe in committing acts of violence against non-Muslims.

Of course, in the process Jones and his supporters have offended non-radical Muslims. Still, Jones believes that it’s important to send a message to Islam that they will not back down from the violence of radical Islam. Jones believes he is simply standing up for what he believes in. In turn, supporters are inspired to stand up for what they believe in.

Another way Jones has gathered support is by taking responsibility for sending a message to radical Islam. Jones has said on repeated occasions that other churches are cowardly for not joining with him to denounce Islamic principles.

Jones believes that every Christian should take initiative and stand up for Christianity, which means denouncing other religions that are not what he considers “the truth.” By taking responsibility, he is able to gain the support of those who disagree with Islamic principles and believe that Christians should be doing more to actively condemn Islam.

Of course, it takes a great deal of courage to plan such an elaborate and offensive act. Jones has received death threats, damage to church property, his mortgage lender is demanding a $140,000 repayment of the church property, the FBI is telling him not to go through with it, and people all over the world are threatening retaliation.

Clearly, Jones is taking a huge risk by persisting and pushing towards the “International Burn a Quran Day” on September 11. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to the opposition to carry out such a bold, and life-threatening, event. Supporters see Jones’s courage as inspiring and that he is doing a noble deed.

Now that Jones has made it this far and is so close to holding the event, it’s clear that he is decisive and that he plans to stick to his decision, even though he admits the event might not happen if God tells him it’s not to be. Supporters see Jones’s conviction in his decision, and are inspired to follow him because he is decisive and will not back down.

Where Has Jones Encountered Detraction And Resentment? Surely Jones has lead his small group of supporters to this point by exhibiting several leadership qualities that they find admirable. However, why is it that more people haven’t “jumped on board?”

One obvious reason is that many people think that Jones is not open-minded nor does he consider other people’s perspectives. Jones’s acts have sparked condemnation from non-radical Muslims who hold the Quran as sacred.

Plus, Jones has chosen to plan the event amidst Ramadan, the Islamic holy month. So, Jones has purposefully chosen to offend the Muslims without consideration for their religious beliefs. Other non-Muslims have realized this, and have condemned Jones and his supporters for their lack of consideration for the Islamic faith.

Another perspective that Jones hasn’t considered is the military implications of carrying on with the event. General Petraeus says that the event could put U.S. troops in danger overseas where retaliation has been promised. There are fears that the event could incite violent hostility, and that the Taliban could use news footage to sway public opinion.

People who support U.S. troops and don’t want to see the Taliban win are condemning the event, and not going along with what Jones has to say. Those against Jones believe that Jones is not giving value to the world, rather he is putting valuable things at risk.

Other people aren’t hopping on board for fear that they would be associating themselves with the wrong things. While some people do not agree with Islamic principles and denounce radical Islam, they also don’t agree with burning holy books to get a point across. Essentially, they don’t agree with the concept of burning books, and they don’t want to support someone else willing to associate with such a disrespectful act.

Perhaps one of the leading reasons other Christians haven’t jumped on board is that they believe Jones is not managing his energy to focus on the most important things.

Religious leaders cite that what Jones is doing is calling attention to the Muslim faith and making Christians look bad. Not only that, but some Christians believe Jones is getting distracted by worrying about Islam when he should be worrying about praising God, and trying to help more people see the good in Christianity. Many Christians are disappointed in what they feel is Jones getting off track and not truly supporting the word of God.

What Do You Think? Though Reverend Terry Jones has been able to gather support from a small group that find his leadership admirable, the majority of the world rejects what Jones is doing for his lack of consideration, his closed-mindedness, his purposefully offensive words and actions, and that he is on the fringe with his focus.

It’s clear that other leaders are stepping up to denounce what Jones is doing to protect what they believe is right. What’s your analysis of the situation? Where do you stand?

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