Sharing Mutual Leadership
Ways to Stay Focused on Jesus
Be a non-anxious presence, especially in the midst of conflict. This is especially important as a leader. Keep communication open and honest, but don’t amplify fear and anxiety.
Be patient. Sometimes God moves us to point B from point A, not so that we will continue to point C, but so that we can see point Z. Progress is not always linear. Leadership sometimes means knowing that the right direction may not always stay the right direction. Know when to turn.
Engage your passion and support others doing likewise. Vestry members are asked to be intentional about the integration of the spiritual and secular. At its best, this means integrating one’s passions and talents with the world’s needs.
Don’t leave your brain at the door. The church tries to walk the line between contracts and covenant; between law and promise. There is wisdom in the practice to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Try something you’ve never done before. Risk failure and hope for success. Vestry people are in a position to see the bigger picture. They can be more aware of more resources and a longer time frame. Take advantage of this privileged view.
Share your passions with others. If you observe spiritual gifts in others, tell them. They may not have recognized them, or might be too afraid to trust them. Leadership is about giving people permission to be the people God calls them to be.
Pray and then get out of the way. Prayer is a gift, whether offered silently or aloud. Don’t expect clergy to be the designated prayers at every occasion; do expect prayers to be answered, however surprising those answers may seem. Leave room for grace. Make time and space for the Holy Spirit to weigh in on any given situation.
Exercise the Spirit’s gifts, those St. Paul describes in Galatians 5:22-23: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Be concerned about the lives of your priests — financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Too many congregations have had at least one bad priest in their history, which makes it difficult to trust them. On the other hand, every priest knows a priest who has had a bad experience with a “clergy killer” congregation.
Finally, remember Pope Gregory who knew who was in charge with his nightly bedtime prayer, “God, your church needs you. Now, I’m going to bed.”
This article is part of the November 2007 Vestry Papers issue on Sharing Mutual Leadership
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