Why Did a Leader Sit on a Pole?

Alvin Shipwreck Kelly
Alvin Shipwreck Kelly (Wikimedia Commons)

Someone must have triple dog-dared Shipwreck Kelly to "go sit on a flagpole." In 1928, in Louisville, Kentucky, Kelly perched himself on a flagpole for over 100 hours. And people came to watch!

There were additional pole-sitting events and records set. Kelly regained the record in 1930 in Atlantic City with a 49-day stay.

The stock market crash in 1929 helped people lose interest in such events until the Guinness Book of Records was published in 1956.

Perhaps Kelly had read about Simeon Stylites. He climbed a pillar in Syria in 423 and stayed on the pillar until he died 37 years later. (The modern language word "stylites" is defined as a pole sitter.)

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Simeon became known as a pillar-saint, which is defined as a type of Christian ascetic who lives on pillars, preaching, fasting and praying.

Simeon did all he could to escape the world horizontally for prayers and private devotion. He obviously felt that vertical separation was his only escape. It didn't work out for the monk as thousands visited his pole daily for prayers and blessings.

As we compare Kelly's stunts to St. Simeon's devotion, we find a clear principle of leadership. Leaders inspire.

Kelly said, "Look at me, I'm sitting on a pole." St. Simeon inspired others to find a closer walk with God. Actions define a leader. 

While we don't know about the conversations St. Simeon had with his people, we can conclude that he wanted to remain close to God and inspire others to do the same.

Leaders take actions to inspire their team. Sometimes the actions may seem grandiose or "out there" or "up there," but the shock and awe value of actions can set a team afire.

Inspiration doesn't occur with pom-poms and morning cheers. A leader charges a hill and inspires a team with actions rather than words.

God calls us to "come up higher." I'm personally not looking for a pole.

I just want to inspire someone today.



Today's Scripture

"I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14).



Platform Tip No. 43

As your platform develops, you will find that more people come to you for help with their problems. Isn't this better than you going out to the marketplace to find people with problems?

Your platform magnet will draw people to you.

Your message gives hope, right?



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Dr. Steve Greene is the publisher and executive vice president of the media group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. His book, Love Leads: The Spiritual Connection Between Your Relationships and Productivity, is now available.

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