Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Hypomanic Christ Followers

John Gartner, in his book The Hypomanic Edge: The Link Between (a Little) Craziness and (a Lot of) Success in America, provides a little different view of what helps provide success and acheivement in the United States. Gartner is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore, Maryland.

To quote Gartner:

"There's a mild form of mania that is very common, but very little understood, called hypomania. It's not a pathology; it's not an illness. It's really more of a temperament. But it is genetically based, and it runs in the same families as mania. Manics and hypomanics tend to be related to one another. The difference is that it's a predominantly productive level of mania. These are people who are incredibly active.

When Louis B. Mayer's doctor told him he should relax and take up golf, Mayer exhausted caddies half his age by hitting five balls down the fairway at once, in essence shooting 90 holes of golf. The doctor said, "Lou, that wasn't what I had in mind" and told him to take up racehorse breeding. Within two years, he had the second most money-winning stable in the world, and he was just doing this as a hobby. So these are people who really do give it 100 percent.

In addition to the energy, they're also very driven people with a very high level of self-motivation. They have an almost insane level of self-confidence. These are people who have incredibly ambitious, almost grandiose goals and are absolutely 100 percent confident they can achieve them. And they're people who think fast, talk fast. And by the way, thinking fast is related to their very high level of creativity. They're people who can make decisions fast, which can sometimes result in impulsive behavior and sometimes lead to seizing the moment in a very fortuitous way.

These people tend to be somewhat visionary and unconventional, and sort of rebellious against the normal structure of things. They become extremely zealous about their vision of what they're trying to create, whether it's a company or a new religion. And they tend to be charismatic, so they tend to energize other people and be very persuasive about getting them on board with their vision. And they tend to be a bit on the arrogant side."

One example Gartner will cite as a hypomanic is President George Bush of the United States. Bush exhibits many of the characteristics mentioned above and does himself feel that he is on a mission from God.

As I thought about George Bush, hypomanics and Christ followers, I couldn't help but think about the parable of the talents. In Matthew 25:14-30 we have the story of a man who left three of his servants in charge of his money while he was away. The first servant received 1 talent, the second servant received 2 and the third was entrusted with 5 talents.

The five talent servant parlayed that amount into 5 more bags of gold. He was rewarded with even more responsibilities.

Are there many five talent leaders in the contemporary church today that fit the description of a hypomaniac? What about Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, author, speaker and founder of the Willow Creek Association ? What about Rick Warren of Saddleback Community Church, author of 'The Purpose driven Life'? What about John Maxwell, former pastor and now the self-professed leadership guru of America? Or how about Brian McLaren, pastor, author and 'godfather' of the 'emerging church' movement?

Come to think about, many of the Willow Creek Association churches seem to be lead by hypomanics. The same may be true for various emerging churches. What about Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Dallas? The Leadership Network is lead by Bob Buford, and it targets innovators. Buford would be close to a hypomanic, as would Ken Blanchard, management guru and founder of the Lead Like Jesus movement.

Interestingly, since Gartner published his book in April, many people think it chic to be considerd a hypomanic. Many more want to become hypomanic. I guess it all comes back to the parable: it's not how many talents you're given, it's what you do with the ones given to you. Rid yourself of envy and find joy serving God being yourself!

1 Peter 3:10-12
For the Scriptures say,"If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil."


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