Herman Melville describes in Moby Dick the frenzied mad dash across the wine-dark sea as whalers strained with every muscle fiber to chase a whale to its death. During what could be hours-long chases, the oarsmen labored while the harpooner calmly reserved his strength for the moment he would unleash his deadly dart. His focused concentration enabled him to achieve the success of the chase. And then this sentence from Melville: “To insure the greatest efficiency in the dart, the harpooners of this world must start to their feet out of idleness, and not from out of toil.” As leaders we are harpooners; we either lead from frenzy and the tyranny of the urgent, or we lead from calm. Missional success hangs in the balance if as leaders we are exhausted and fatigued by “the chase.” Somehow it is always a temptation and seemingly more compelling to assume the work of the oarsman, laboring mightily in the cause at hand, giving our energies first to this, and then to that. What would our leadership look like if we practiced the “Harpooner’s Calm”?
Robert Ingram, Headmaster of The Geneva School, Orlando, since 2003. Previously he served as a founding Board member of Geneva and Chairman of the Board for eight years. Bob is a graduate of The College of Wooster (Ohio), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (MDiv and ThM), and Geneva College, PA (masters of Higher Education). He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, having served in several pastorates and was the Senior Vice President of Ligonier Ministries from 1986–1995. In addition to consulting with numerous classical schools, Bob has also served as Chairman of The Society for Classical Learning.