Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Toru leadership reflections


When I think about leadership much of my understanding and approach is shaped by my understanding of scripture and theological themes. I come from a cultural background where leadership is and class are connected 'done by others, it is not done by us we merely take orders.' Leadership is what the foreman, the principle, the government did (class system) – there was no concept of leadership or expressions in my family – 'working class people are not leaders'. To come into the Christian faith then was to come into contact with a stream of thought that not only challenged the world I had grown up in but faith offered an opportunity to challenge and change my life direction. The role of leadership and the type of leadership that I gravitated to then was essentially shaped by my early life and what I read in the scriptures.

Leadership for me also comes with a high level of tension on one hand I don't want to be a leader, and on the other I realise that there is a call only life to lead others and that whether I like it or not people look to me for leadership. This entails I have no issue with being lead by others when the need and the situation arises. Leadership and the call to be a leader come then for me from a call to ministry, and an understanding of ministry. When I talk of leadership the word could just as easily be replaced by ministry or even discipleship – as at the end of the day one is a reflection of the other. Discipleship is the task, ministry is the context and leadership is the means necessary to disciple others. Leadership for me is about encouraging developing others to become leaders also


Theological themes:

Missio Dei - Incarnation: One of the earliest themes we are introduced to in the creation account of Genesis one is the God that broods over the water – A God that is present in this world, a God that has a mission. The incarnation is the New Testament realisation of this God has moved into the neighbourhood – in fact he has always been in the neighbourhood and continues to be at work creating recreating hiding in the whispers of this world. In terms of leadership this for me means that I am not alone – that God is with me and the leadership/ministry/discipleship task is to look for God's foot prints to make sense and give meaning to what is happening - God is at work – he calls the church to work alongside of Him in this task. Leadership then is about; interpreting, listening, visualizing for others, relationship

Imago Dei – Kingdom of God: A second theme is of God making humanity in His image, while this can be interpreted in many ways one that speaks to me is that of the image of the statue at the gates of the city, in ancient time a person would know whose city/village this was by the image of the founder at the city gates. That is what I believe it means to be an image bearer that the world should be able to look at us as image bearers and see whose 'city' this is. Jesus further strengthens this with his call to people to become part of the Kingdom of God, as I would understand it in Luke's Gospel, Jesus talks about the Kingdom being present when the, blind see, the lame walk etc... The role of the church then is as statues to the living God, and as activist in making this place God's place, the Kingdom of God, whenever God's work is being done then there is the kingdom we are signs of that reality and agents in making that reality happen. Leadership then is about; influence, activism, doing justice (which cannot be separated from judgement), pointing other towards the reality of God in their midst. A leader is a sign post/statue that point others to Jesus (the role of John the Baptist would be crucial in demonstrating the role of the church too).

Vision/Prophetic: As a person I have been gifted/cursed with long sightedness, both physically and spiritually – I tend to see what is far off but miss what is under my nose. It's the gift of vision being able to point out possibilities, to think of implications to dream possibilities for myself and God people. This is also coupled with a call to be prophetic – God's mouthpiece to the Church. As a minister I have realised very early the best way to mute a prophet is to make them a priest – it is difficult to challenge from within unless you are prepared to be part of the solution. I have a love hate relationship with the Church as an institution. Leadership is about, imagining possible futures, standing on the fringes, listening to God and making sense of the situation, it is looking for opportunities in crisis and not being able to risk it all or to admit failure, challenging, understanding the past (the context of others) in order to lead them to the future.

Staying sane/ staying rooted: As a person I have often found ministry stressful, a major reason being related to the Peter Principle – where a person is often promoted beyond their level of competence. For me I came into ministry though an ability to relate/share the gospel with those who did not hang around churches. As the prophet is muted by becoming a Priest the evangelist is also muted in the same way. This for me lead to a huge stress I was outside of my comfort zone. So for me to stay rooted in what God has called me to and to demonstrate leadership -to encourage others to become committed disciple I spend a lot of my energy in encouraging others to go into the world. But I need to put my time and energy into that too, being surrounded by no one else other than Christians wears me down it makes my leadership ineffective. I call others to get involved but also get involved in the world outside church doors as a spiritual discipline. To lead others I need to be an example, rooted and renewed.



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