I have just recently returned from the gift of planning for a national training programme with the United Church of Canada (UCC) for Designated Lay Ministry. There is much that has drawn me to this opportunity to be involved in the formation of future ministers within our midst and I would say that one of the primary motivations has to do with the idea of leadership – sometimes understood within a Christian context as discipleship.
Though this is not a new area upon which for me to reflect, I also had the pleasure of watching a TedTalk recently by Simon Sinek, How great leaders inspire action (see below). I recently hinted on Facebook that the video would be central to a Blog and the connexion for me has to do with our current denominational angst about who we are, where we are going and the paralysis that seems – at times – to take hold and we forget about how we might lead, how we might embolden, how we might inspire.
Regardless of organisation – corporate, entrepreneurial, NGO, government or faith-based – Sinek’s TEDTalk has me stirred in thought about the difference between leadership and one who leads: the difference between management and creativity; and the difference between maintaining what is and inspiring what might be. I will not try to offer an overview – watching the video does a much better job of sharing his articulate exploration – but what is most present is what he calls ‘The Why.’
At the centre of one who leads is confidence in one’s motivation, the intent for action, The Why they do something. Everything else The How or The Why that happens, whether that’s the production line of a product of the processes that help disseminate a message or brand, without The Why mediocrity ensues. After mediocrity, I think apathy arises with inertia holding people back from truly life-giving opportunities because The Why is missing.
At times it feels like that churches – large and small – our larger denominational body and the ancillary NGOs and justice groups within the UCC have begun to forget our Why. In Christian language we call that Why the Good News – a sense that there is in fact freedom from the oppressive nature of human society, whether that be such structures that range from misogyny to homophobia or from racism to ageism to mention only a few of the ways we devalue one another. The belief that – with compassion and humility – the world can begin to change to reflect a future (we call that the Kingdom) that begins in the Now. This future world possesses the potential to recognise that all people are meant to shine and that we each possess a light that can inspire another if only it is nurtured and cared for.
I have experienced this more fully as we get mired in the illusion that there is not enough, that if we tweak this process all will be well, that if only this group or that group came more regularly all would be as it had once been or any of the myriad ways in which we do not acknowledge that life is abundant-filled and that it is to the Creator that all belongs. If we hold onto control, we become leaders or managers intent on maintaining that status quo, as opposed to leading with a passion and dream that is only limited by the degree to which we think all things are possible.
I have just recently returned from the gift of planning for a national programme with the United Church of Canada (UCC) for Designated Lay Ministry. The gift of this group of men and women – Brothers and Sisters – is that many are in their second or third careers and yet not only have they lived a life of ongoing learning, they have responded to a whisper, a Call to lead. To walk into people’s lives and share the Good News: news that challenges and is radical, a message that breaks down assumptions and stereotypes, a faith that encourages love in the face of human hate. They may not know why they are finally making this decision, but they have indeed grounded themselves in The Why to lead …