November 23, 2016

Selecting Leaders in our Churches

Annual meetings are being held in many of our congregations in the next few months. We will have the opportunity to elect leaders to include wardens, vestry members and delegates to diocesan conventions.

It is important for us to reflect on how we select leaders within our churches.

For many the criteria is to have someone from the “inner circle”, which may mean being from the right family or having the right status in the community. For others selection is by default, they are the last person standing, no one else wants the position or they do not want to give it up and others are afraid to wrestle it away from them. For some their names were selected while absent, others were pressured into taking the position even though their hearts were not in it, and for a few their egos were stroked – you are the only one that can do this job.

Obviously the above criteria for selection are not optimal but are practiced often without us realizing the ways it can lead to dysfunction.

There are many best practices on how leaders are selected; for me model criteria are discernment, time, talent and temperament. The fundamental criteria financial contribution and presence at church services should not be overlooked.

Has the person prayed and discerned if that is what God is calling them to do? This discernment should include conversations with the priest, family, and friends who know their current life situation very well.

Secondly, given all their activities has the person honestly assessed the time needed to dedicate to this position. It is important to gather information about the time commitment from someone who has been in that role.

Third, do they have the experience and the skills needed for that position to serve the church well. A careful assessment should be undertaken.

Lastly, with regard to temperament, they should be able to work collaboratively, be able to disagree without being disagreeable, and most important view this position as a ministry that serves others as well as themselves.

The potential leaders should have the opportunity to address these criteria in writing or in person to the congregation before the final selections are made.