There are plenty of books on the topic of Leadership. Certain publishing houses specialize in the niche of church leadership. Continuing Education events for clergy are almost always on some aspect of Leadership.
But every leader knows there are certain things — Very Important Things — that are near-impossible to lead unless the participants are ready and willing to go. These VITs can range from choosing new curriculum to budgeting for building repairs to changing the worship schedule. If people aren’t ready to go there, the change ain’t gonna happen.
In fact, most of the Leadership material I’ve read lately could be categorized as “Leading Change.”
In a sense I think that’s redundant. Change is a given in any institution (or relationship, or life). Change has always been a given, only now change happens more rapidly and without ceasing. Technology has driven this change, or has at least been the tool of change.
But Change is inherent in Leadership. Have you noticed that the word itself — Leadership — implies a journey, a movement, a change from here to there?
So yes, all congregational leaders (worth their salt) are Change Agents. Leaders should embrace that role with a whole heart. Leading Change is not an easy task.
During Lent we minister-types talk about the spiritual journey, perhaps more overtly than at other times of year. During these 40 days believers walk with Jesus towards Holy Week and, ultimately, Easter. We pass through trials on the way to resurrection. How does this turn us into true disciples, followers of Christ?
For me, this Lent feels different from past seasons. Mostly this is my change in role. After two decades as a Solo Pastor or staff member, I am no longer affiliated with a church. Now I am the person who “dips in” to teach a class, supply a pulpit, or lead a retreat. I’m definitely not driving. I’m not the Change Agent.
It’s interesting to be in the back-seat.
I’m glad that I’m still able to do plenty of ministry from this position. For instance, two congregations have invited me to lead classes on “A Lenten Pilgrimage.” (Thanks, John Calvin Pres and OPMH!) I’m also leading a “virtual pilgrimage” along with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie through Monasteries of the Heart. (It’s not too late to sign up.)
My back-seat position at churches is showing me new sides to old lessons about leadership. Like most truths, they are contradictory:
1) virtual contact is often underrated, as it can be surprisingly powerful; and 2) there’s nothing as good as being physically in the same room.
3) a Lent pilgrimage thrives under a wise and compassionate leader; and 4) even a wise and compassionate leader cannot lead someone on a spiritual journey if that someone doesn’t want to go.
5) leadership without an agenda, budget, or decisions feels free; and 6) leadership without these things doesn’t seem to lead to any definite places so is it even leadership?
Perhaps the best thing about being a minister is that the job/role never ends. (Yes, that is also one of the worst things about it.) But I find that even without a church “of my own” there is much to be done, and much to be learned, about leadership. This Lent I am journeying outside the institutional church. Let’s see where it leads.
Where are you going this Lent?