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This is a research paper on my favorite leader. In the context of this paper, my favorite leader will refer to Dr Robert Schuller. The research paper will look into the life of Dr. Robert Schuller and his work experience as recorded in various professional references. The research paper will also use some of his quotes and paraphrase others with an aim of strengthening the research paper. The paper will conclusively summarize the discussion about my favorite leader (Dr. Robert Schuller).
Robert Harold Schuller was born in September 16, 1926 in the out skirts of Alton, Lowa to a Dutch American family. He was raised in his parent's farm situated at Lowa in a Dutch community. His family earnestly followed the Dutch Reformed Church and Robert adopted this doctrine which motivated him to dream of becoming a minister of the church at the age of four. Robert started his studies in a tiny high school at Newkirk, Lowa and graduated to join Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, where he successfully attained a Bachelor of Arts degree. However his career pursuit was threatened when a tornado destroyed his parents' farm house during summer, but they later rebuild another one at summer end .He later resumed studies at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan, where he received his Masters of Divinity degree in 1950 (Academy of achievement, 2010). Robert was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America upon graduating from the Western Theological Seminary. He got married at the same year to Arvella DeHaan of Newkirk and started his assignment as a pastor at which time the congregation grew tremendously. As a result, he was called upon to build a new congregation in Garden Grove by the denomination in 1955. He consequently rented a movie theater, Orange Drive-in with only $500 in assets and started preaching from the tarpaper roof. He loved this and the Garden Grove congregation grew rapidly. He also built another 300 seat chapel and hence conducted 2 services on Sunday.
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From the large number of the congregation, Robert was able to build and open a state of the art permanent church building by 1961. This enabled him to serve a huge congregation and advanced to build the "tower of hope" building by 1968. By 1980, he had built the first-ever all glass church (the crystal cathedral) which was dedicated "To the Glory of Man for the Greater Glory of God" by Johnson the architect. The new church accommodated 2,736 people and thousands of people visit the cathedral annually for Sunday worship, seminars and for the two annual pageants; the Glory of Christmas and the Glory of Easter (Academy of Achievement, 2010). His achievement in the growth of the church can be based on his beliefs and key doctrines which are; self esteem and positive thinking (Magill, 2004). The achievements similarly demonstrate his good leadership skills which have led to the growth of the reformed church globally. In addition, Dr Robert founded New Hope in 1968, which is the world's first live, church-sponsored 24-hour suicide prevention and counseling hotline. The service has benefited millions of people since its inception. He later opened the Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership in 1970 which has enrolled, trained and successfully qualified more than 20,000 students from catholic, protestant and different church denominations.
He collaborated with his wife to initiate hour-long television broadcasts from the church as from 1970 and named the program, "The Hour of Power". His wife produced the program for over 40 years and featured Robert as the senior pastor to viewers internationally up to date. The Hour of Power is a huge success as it is viewed in 200 stations in the US and millions in other countries (Academy of Achievement, 2010). It also derived its success by hosting celebrity speakers who included; Musician John Tesh, former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, former US Attorney General John Ashcroft, former India president Dr. Kalam, Backstreet boys, MLB baseball player Gibson, Christian singer Natalie and actor Denzel Washington (Academy of Achievement, 2010). The program is all inclusive. The urge of moving on as demonstrated by Robert as he successfully ventures in new idea can be accounted to his book, "Success is Never Ending and Failure is Never Final (1990)". The novel encourages pursuance of more success despite the current challenges. But it is the opening of the Fuqua International School of Christian Communications in 1992 that brought one of his dreams to reality. It is in this school that ministers from all over the world derive their preaching skills with Dr Robert Schuller being the Chancellor of the school (Academy of Achievement, 2010).
In his life, Dr. Robert Schuller has written more than 30 books categorized as motivational, faith and other genres. Among the many novels, 6 have found space on the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Examples of the novels are: Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do; Life's Not Fair but God is Good; and You Can Be The Person You Want To Be (Random House, 2010). The novels have helped so many people to overcome their worries and forge ahead for success. They have also encouraged and comforted the down hearted as well spiritually nourishing the Christian faithful. The above appreciation in his writings, the senior pastor and chancellor's positions defines his ability to lead. He additionally represented the US as a member of the Presidential Delegation in the burial of Mother Teresa and Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He has at the same time been sought to speak in business conventions, theological seminars and conferences all over the world. His gospel has strengthened and brought sparks of hope to many.
He has also written a number of quotes in the category of faith and inspiration. Some of his favorite quotes are; "God's delays are not God's denials" (BrainyQuote, 2010 pg 1); "Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made" (BrainyQuote 2010, pg 1); "What appears to be the end of the road may simply be a bend in the road"( BrainyQuote 2010, pg 2); and "Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed" (BrainyQuote 2010, pg 1). These quotes have been significant in the lives of many and his positive messages of hope and constructive living has been his strong points. Dr. Robert and his wife have four daughters and one son, Robert A. Schuller who are very active in the ministry. After 56 years of service as the senior pastor, Dr. Robert resigned from the post in the Crystal Cathedral and his son Robert A. Schuller succeeded him as the senior pastor in 2006.
However, two years later, Robert A. Schuller and his father differed over the direction and vision for the ministry. On October 25 2008, the junior Robert relinquished his position as the senior pastor of Crystal Cathedral hence parting ways with the "Hour of Power" television broadcast ministry. The disagreement between and the parting of ways of the son and the father did not auger well with the congregation and Schuller's ministry was subjected to questioning by international media. Similarly, it marked the turning point of his success in the ministry. Dr. Schuller was reported in part saying that due to lack of shared vision and the risky position this placed the ministry, him and his son saw it necessary to part ways (Whitt, 2008). A year later, Dr. Robert announced that the leadership of the church will pass to his daughter, Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman who was the oldest child of Dr. Roberts's family and the former head of family ministries at the Crystal Cathedral. This reaction led to a rotating roster of the Sunday service speakers and on the "Hour of Power" broadcast and thus shifting the attention from one pastor (Academy of Achievement, 2010). This has also brought financial loses to the ministry as the dollar contributions and church members decrease relatively. To this effect, Dr. Coleman who acted as an interim senior pastor was promoted to senior pastor in July 2010 and other family members have continually steered the ministry with the son in-law James Penner becoming the producer of the "hour of power" television broadcast and Roberts forth daughter, Gretchen, directing programs for the ministry.
However, Schuller has continued to accumulate criticism in the way he presents Christianity for mass consumption and for commercial purposes. Some have described his theology as shallow and questioned why he has often remained silent on crucial issues like race and homosexuality which depend a lot on Christian teachings and principles. The ministry and teachings of Dr. Robert has been quoted by trusted literature as being man-centered more than God-centered as he preaches the gospel of self-esteem rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has a weakness of not basing his teaching on the Bible, rather, his self esteem gospel leads people to placing their hope in themselves and not on God through the savoir, Jesus Christ. Evidently, Schuller's savior is not Jesus Christ but his mentor, Norman Vincent from whom he derived his power of positive thinking teachings (Magill, 2004). On his hour of power telecast, Robert preached that we enter heaven when we have a dream, focus on the dream and fuel the dream - this is biblically wrong as the Bible confirms that we enter Heaven on receiving Jesus Christ as our personal savior. Thus by this we can confirm that Robert do not base his teachings on the Bible. Most of the Schuller's teachings and beliefs inconsistencies to the Biblical teachings are traced from his book "Self-esteem". In most cases he will talk of positive thinking instead of trusting in God. He has used this book to mislead the ignorant Christians.
However, I will start from a different point where as recorded above; Schuller hosted all personalities in his show. The guests included celebrities, pagans, Muslims, homosexuals and even cult members. This brings out the question as to whether the show was about Christians or general matters. He accommodated the ideas of all even those against the Christian teachings- he is not a true prophet. He is quoted saying that the church needs a man-centered theology and not a God-centered one. He equally denied the fact that Jesus bore the cross to save us from sin and recorded that it was to sanctify our self- esteem (Self-esteem 1982, pg 115). He also states that the ultimate will of man is self-love. This negates biblical teachings which advocates for self denial for the sake of Christ. It is recorded that Robert focused on the things that favor major faiths like the Muslims; in one of his shows, he boasted to Billy Graham that over a million Muslims are watching his program weekly. He also told the Imam Alfred Mohammed that he would not mind his grandchildren joining Islam. This is ironical in that Muslims do not approve Christ who Schuller claims to stand for. On the issue of repentance, he was very controversial. He maintained that repentance is just a positive redirection of ones life. This did not agree with the fact that repentance is about recognizing the redemption of sin that Christ offered when he died on the cross and reconciling with the Heavenly Father.
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Biblically, sin is the willful deviation from the will of God. However Schuller defined sin as a human act that denies someone his or her self-esteem (self-esteem: The New Reformation, pg 14).This was a direct deviation of what separates us from the will of God he claims to glorify. On salvation, he said that we can be saved even without making a public repentance. This negates the Christian teachings which acknowledge salvation by faith and on confession by our mouths. In what was considered as an alteration to favor his ideology of self-love, Dr. Robert changed the wording of the tune" Rise up Great Men Of God" and concluded the show by singing, "Dream the Impossible Dream" (Hour of power telecast aired on April 2, 1989). Schuller's theology that people should find God in their own way and that God lives in people is an abomination to God and is a false gospel (New age, 2010 section 12). He also adjusted the Lord's Prayer by writing that we should pray, "Our father in heaven, honorable is our name" (Self-Esteem 1982, pg 69). This is an abomination to the Most High.
He also believes that God destined him to preach possibility thinking (Self-Esteem pg 27) and not the gospel as he teaches not from the Bible. In an act of defending this ideology, Dr. Robert recorded that he believes in positive thinking as it is equally important as the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Self-Esteem 1982, pg 28). This is not the true gospel. About hell, he reported that hell is the loss of pride and that a person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem (pg 14-15). This contravenes the biblical understanding of hell as eternal condemnation upon death of a sinner. There are many other recorded ideologies of Dr. Robert Schuller in the novel Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (1982). All these ideologies contravene the Christian teachings, the Bible and hence he preaches his gospel and not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Summary and Conclusion
Dr. Robert H. Schuller has demonstrated utmost leadership skills from the way he brought up the Dutch Reformed Church. During his leadership, the congregation grew from less than a 100 to thousands of members. He also developed the church building from a drive in theatre to the state of the art Crystal Cathedral. He also advanced the normal Sunday services to live telecasts broadcasted to millions of viewers around the world. He has been able to convince, inspire and strengthen millions of people using his sermons, quotes and books. His positive thinking, possibility thinking and self-esteem ideologies have been spread to all corners of the world. These have earned him recognitions and appreciations. However, it is good to note that his teachings and beliefs have in a significant way contradicted with the Bible and hence Christianity. It is observed that his teachings are not Biblically -based and that he preaches to please his congregation and for money. His "false" gospel has relatively reached, attracted and converted so many people through the media, literature and oral means. His dominance has however declined with time. Though he has been described as the most dangerous leader and a false prophet, his leadership skills stands out.