Listen: Michael McQueen chats to Laura Bennett
As we near the end of the ‘twenty-teens’ and look back on the decade-that-was, the social and technological shifts we’ve seen have been astonishing.
‘Fake news’ is officially in the Oxford dictionary, driverless cars are becoming viable, and calling friends from your wristwatch is totally normal.
Futurist and international speaker Michael McQueen says that with the world becoming increasingly sceptical, too, it’s imperative for the church, and businesses, to prioritise how they build trust with their followers in the years ahead. Personal character is all-important – as he lays out in his new book, The Case for Character.
“We’re sceptical because we’ve got reason to be,” he said, in a chat with Laura Bennett. “Every week you see stories of organisations that haven’t acted in good faith. The reality is, the age of information means we know a whole lot more, and so there’s nowhere to hide.
“For organisations this is significant – because people expect to know [what’s going on], and they expect transparency. That puts all of us, including the church, on notice: are we earning and keeping the trust, the goodwill… and respect, of those we’re looking to serve?”
“We need to be humble enough to realise that none of us have got the full view of God’s nature.”
So vast is the volume of information at our fingertips, Michael believes we’re almost ‘over informed’, making us cynical, and unable to discern the truth or fiction of what’s being presented to us.
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When reading any post or article Michael said we need to ask three things: who wrote it, why they wrote it, and how it got your attention.
“That last one’s a really important question, because the tactics used to get our attention, and the way they represent information has a lot to it,” he said.
“Just taking information at face value is naive today… I think we’re aware of that, we just need the skills to be able to navigate information well.”
Church Will Never Be the Same
Considering the church historically operates on a model where one person preaches and others quietly listen. But today, modern preachers must acknowledge how well-informed their congregation are, and rethink how information is shared within the church.
“There’s great value in being able to access countless podcasts that give us perspectives we wouldn’t otherwise get in a local church,” said Michael. “Whatever church we’re apart of we need to be aware that there’ll be perspectives people bring to the table, forming their own experience – that in many cases makes us all sharper.
“We need to be humble enough to realise that none of us have got the full view of God’s nature. It’d be arrogant to think you did. There’s something powerful in [the idea] that none of us are as smart as ‘all of us’.”
For leaders in business and the church, this calls for authenticity, and sharing genuinely from their experiences in life and work. It’s this that Michael believes is the key to enduring leadership.
“Character is the key to lasting the distance,” he said.
“The importance of character and integrity are hard to overstate.”
He references American business leader John Huntsman Sr, who recognised that people are either unsuccessful, temporarily successful, or successful in the long term. The difference? Good character.
“It’s not skill, it’s not ‘right time’, it’s not luck—it’s character,” Michael said. “There’s a real Biblical truth in that; what are you going to build your house on? What are you going to build your life on? Are you going to build on things that are solid and stable and secure, or the bright and the flashy things that might look great and serve a purpose of now, but are actually a shaky foundation over the long haul?
“I think for all us the importance of character and integrity are hard to overstate.”