Sunday, November 7, 2010

Growing Leaders 2

Last week we ran the second session of the CPAS Growing Leaders course. The course plan is really interesting. It deliberately delays concentrating on the questions of "how to" in leadership. Instead it focuses the participants' attention on character and call. Only if these two are in place does the third strand of leadership, competence, fall into place.

The question we were asked in session 2 was "what drives you?" This, of course, hits home in every part of our lives, not just the churchy bits. But in spiritual terms the danger is acute: the danger of deriving our affirmation and identity from the externals of our life. Christian leaders who are driven by the need to achieve and succeed are locked into a vicious circle of constant activity in order to provide themselves with the positive feedback that they crave. On the other hand, if we derive our identity from our relationship with Christ, our calling by him and in him, then we are liberated from the need to achieve, and our motives are re-aligned.

What's interesting about this is that, initially at least, it would be quite hard to tell the difference. Many leaders are by nature, quite activistic: people who are good at getting things done. A leader who is utterly Christ-centred could easily be just as active and high-achieving as one who is doing it for more selfish motives. And so, quite terrifyingly, we could actually fool the people around us into thinking we are deeply rooted in Christ when in fact we are far from him. It's happened before, and it will happen again.

This also reflects on the role of the clergy. Traditionally, the Church of England has favoured priests and bishops who are contemplative and/or pastoral in the way they do things. But the culture is changing. Increasingly, a church desperate for change is looking for people who can lead, offer vision and direction, get things done. This is probably a good thing, if we can somehow prevent the pendulum from swinging too far. But there is a danger. What we hope to get is a generation of church leaders who are apostolic leaders and spiritual visionaries. But what we might end up with is a generation of self-important manager types, who talk a good game but have no inner substance.

The balance between the active life and inner spirituality is always a challenge for the Christian, especially so for busy leaders. But if call comes first, and competence second, we're going the right way.

4 comments:

Jim B-E said...

Hi Charlie,

I really don't think it is the role of the clergy to "get things done". Clergy are there to lead worship, act as spiritual guides and to connect the church with the community. Getting things done is - or ought to be - the role of the churchwardens and PCC.

The church in general - and our diocese especially - continues to suffer from a clericalism that is both stifling and impossible to deliver. The church must stand, or fall, on the activism of the whole people of God. Clergy running around doing a whole load of things while everyone else stands and watches isn't a church, and is offered as a positive example nowhere in Scripture. Clergy are not Chief Executives (which is not to say churches shouldn't *have* Chief Executives). It's precisely for that reason I no longer attend PCC meetings.

I like Joel 2 as a template for clergy - dreaming dreams and seeing visions.

David said...

'A leader who is utterly Christ-centred could easily be just as active and high-achieving as one who is doing it for more selfish motives.'

If you remember when we first met, this was a particular bee I had in my bonnet about 'worship leaders' (ie. people at the front doing music). I found it genuinely scary how easily I could manipulate a congregation, in the name of achieving some kind of spiritual experience for them. A kind of Christian 'ends justifying the means' thing. Hence not doing it for 6 years and so on.

On what Jim said, I've just met a Life Coach today, and I'm wondering to what degree the role of the clergy is life coaching (or 'equipping the saints for ministry' to use the Paul's words), so that all the congregation have the strong foundations on which to 'get things done'.

Charlie said...

Thanks David and Jim, how nice to have real-life friends & colleages at AH. Interesting comments which prompt some further reflections: there will be another post on this later this week.

ramtopsrac said...

As someone going through Growing Leaders, who is already licensed as a Reader, one of my challenges through this part of GL has not been so much re-checking my calling (though that is also happening), but making sure that the "doing of ministry" (in a vacancy) is not squeezing out and stifling my 'inner spirituality' and connection with God that should be feeding my ministry and stopping me burning out.