I heard an interesting description of a leader a while ago: leaders create heroes. Now, there’s no sense in creating heroes out of celebrities. Too many people already do that, to their detriment. Instead, leaders notice the little guy and elevate him to heroic status.
I’ve been fascinated recently with the fact that breakthroughs don’t usually happen to individuals alone. There’s often another person involved, and it’s the synergy of their giftings that creates the breakthrough. Some get headlines together. Hewlett and Packard go together like peanut butter and jelly. Paul and Barnabas are like love and marriage. But they are the exceptions. Most often, one gets all the headlines while the other’s contribution goes unnoticed. Following with my last post on acknowledging those who make silent contributions, I want to spend a few minutes heralding “the other guy.”
The other Steve
A 25-year-old engineer at Hewlett-Packard, Steve Wozniak was using his spare time to design a language interpreter for a new 8-bit microprocessor called the MOS 6502. But even though the motherboard he created was smaller and less complex than other kits on the market, and even though Wozniak gave away the schematics for free, hobbyists still found the board difficult to build. So Woz and his high school pal Steve Jobs, who was working at Atari, decided to sell preassembled boards—which they dubbed the Apple I. They built them at night in Jobs’ parents’ garage, paying Jobs’ sister $1 a board to insert chips. In 1976, they produced 200 units and sold 150 of them for $500 apiece. (From WIRED magazine, courtesy of Creative Leadership by Tony Kim)
The Bible translation promoter
L.L. Legters was a Presbyterian minister who served among Comanche Indians, then on the east coast, and then as an itinerant speaker at church mission conferences. He made trips throughout South America in order to document the spiritual needs of language groups, challenging churches back home to pray and to act on their behalf. In 1921, he spoke to a Cakchiquel Indian audience at a Bible conference in Guatemala. Translating for him was Cameron Townsend. The two men got along well. Townsend told Legters of his passion for Guatemala’s distinct language groups. Legters, in turn, amazed Townsend by reporting about the hundreds of unevangelized language groups which he had seen and heard about in South and Central America alone — none of whom had a single page of God’s Word. He also mentioned the countless unreached groups reportedly living in other parts of the world. The two men talked and prayed about the obvious need for thousands of new Bible translations. By faith, they determined to do something about this pressing need.
Townsend agreed to work on a Cakchiquel translation of the New Testament, keenly aware that he lacked academic preparation for work in the field of linguistics. Legters agreed to promote the cause of unreached peoples and to raise money for Townsend’s Cakchiquel translation project at church mission conferences back in the United States. In the process of keeping his part of the bargain, Legters set up a new organization called the “Pioneer Mission Agency,” the roots of Wycliffe Bible Translators. (From The Network for Strategic Missions)
Both Wozniak and Legters fell to the side as their charasmatic, innovative partners grew in renown. But Apple and Wycliffe could not have become what they’ve become without their solid contribution. So, here’s to the small people!