Gunners: the hyper-aggressive leaders who make things happen.
I am a gunner. I didn’t realize it until I heard my son describe one of the gunners in his class in medical school. “She is on a mission, man….I mean, she knows the answers to every question….she is always there; she’s always early, and she is always focused. She hardly knows my name, nor anyone else’s in the class for that matter. But – she knows every faculty member, and they all know her.” The environment is certainly different from the one I existed in at college, in grad school, and then at AT&T in my early years, but those descriptors could have been used to describe me.
We have all met these gunners; even now you can think of someone who fits the name “gunner”. (Advice to some of you…don’t look in the mirror. You might see one looking back at you!)
If a gunner is to be “cured”, it’ll be in one of three ways. And these are sequential; it’s a progression…(thanks, John Richie @JCRichie for this insight)
1. Voluntary engagement – by far the easiest on the heart and with less collateral damage. Through intense, ruthless self-examination, a gunner decides he/she doesn’t want to be a gunner any more. They surrender their ambition to God. They humble themselves. They set goals…goals that move them toward loving and serving people. They still do their jobs and do them well. But their heart (substitute the word “desires”) is different.
2. Pattern of failure – when the gunner fails to pull himself out of the suicide dive into ambition, then he’ll experience repeated relational failure. People won’t submit to being used or abused for long. Employees will leave, kids will stay away, and his spouse will find a life of her own, either in the marriage or in a new one. Solution is the same…surrender. selflessness. humility. faith.
3. Harsh discipline of reality – if multiple relational failures don’t get the gunner’s attention, he’s ultimately going to “hit the wall”. When the career explodes, when the wife leaves (or has an affair), when the son joins a gang or gets into drugs, the gunner realizes no amount of effort on his part can turn things around. It will take an omnipotent, loving God to get him through. Same solution, but wow…so much unnecessary pain for himself and those he loves!
A friend put it this way. “God starts with a whisper. If we don’t listen, He loves us enough to yell. And if we still don’t listen, look out, because He also loves us enough to get out the hammer!”
Question: Are you a gunner?
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