The Leadership Foundations’ Charism

playground Arial
Leadership Foundations

Leadership Foundations

Noted public theologian Stanley Hauerwas asked a provocative question: true or false, you can only act within the world in which you see? We answer this question in a resoundingly affirmative way—yesyou can only act within the world in which you see. The next, and, perhaps more important question from an LF perspective is this: how do you see? 

The answer to that question changes everything. 

Tellingly, Joseph Campbell helps answer the question of how you see by stating the following: “if you want to change the world, change your metaphor.”

It is this metaphor of conversion that informs the LF charism (God’s particular gift to us as an organization) and shapes every action from relationships to resources — seeing the city as God’s playground rather than a battleground.

Initially given to Rev. Dr. Samuel Shoemaker in Pittsburgh in 1962, this charism was then passed on to the founder of the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation and first president of the LF Global NetworkReid Carpenter.

As a result of their faithful commitment to the LF charism, it has now echoed down through the decades to the 40+ LF affiliates throughout the world. 

Seeing the city as a playground changes three critical realities that will both form and inform the kind of work you can do going forward:

Extending the metaphor: cities do not come to us as ready-made playgrounds. They must be cultivated into playgrounds. Decisions and determinations need to be made about where the slides, sandboxes, and swing sets are located. 

LF’s wheel of change is thmethod through which the city becomes God’s playground. Faithfully applied, the wheel of change has proven to make a permanent impact in helping cities become more like God’s playground. 

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City As Playground Anthology

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Celia Vigil

Communications Associate

What book, movie, quote, or tv show has most shaped your understanding of leadership or the city?   

A quote that has shaped my understanding of leadership and the city is, “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

While the amount of work there is to do to transform cities is great, this quote reminds me that we are freed from having to complete it all, though our obligation to continue remains. We may never see a huge transformation in our lifetime. The work stretches far beyond us. However, this does not make our acts of faithfulness in the day to day less significant, no matter how small they may seem.