The pastor as leader

8 Mar

Just a few snippets from some recent thinking about the pastor as leader.
Recently a friend shared these thoughts he had found in his journal from some years ago. He had written down these lines from an article in Leadership magazine:

Three things shape our sense of call to ministry:
1. Our grasp of the heart of God, which determines our motivations.
2. Our grasp of the needs of people, which shapes the direction of our service; and
3. The gifts that God has given us, which determines the effectiveness of our service.
The source of these comments is an article by John Jackson. I know no other details.

These are really helpful insights, I reckon. Basically, it is crucial in ministry to have a clear sense of these things. Who we think God is and what God is about in the world is a fundamental determinant of what we think we are doing too, or at least what we try to achieve. And we need to develop our awareness of that: it is often implicit, but not explicit.
What we do at Whitley College includes a strong emphasis on helping candidates for ordination to discover that implicit theology. we call it a person’s ‘operational theology’. It is often quite different from the doctrinal theology people affirm. I remember a colleague who once remarked that it is part of the grace of God that none of us is as bad as our theology!
I think, too, that one way of articulating our actual or operational theology is to try to make explicit what I call ‘our Jesus’: what things about Jesus, whether perhaps an action, a saying, or some attribute you see in him inspires you, or motivates you to be like that? We all have our image of Jesus, and it influences our view of faith and ministry, whether we acknowledge it or not.

But now for something completely different:
These are some thoughts based on an article in one of the management magazines I read. It’s interesting how much focus there is on caring for people and the integrity of the manager as a person, as the basis of leadership.
So in the Australian Institute of Management’s journal Management Today, Jan-Feb 2011, an article by Terry Barber outlines 7 principles for inspiring employees. These are things for managers and leaders to do, in any organization, and I think they apply very well to pastoral leadership as well.
Here are the 7 principles:
1. Authenticity: including sharing your weaknesses.
2. Connect with other people’s dreams: help them to get to where they want to go.
3. See in others the abilities they don’t see in themselves.
4. Speak and live with credibility: that is, lead with moral authority.
5. Inspire with great stories.
6. Help people to live on purpose, reminding them that work is only part of their lives. Maybe they could have a vision statement for their own lives, not just ‘the firm’.
7. Create a culture of inspiration, especially by being a teacher committed to excellence and character development.

These are wonderful principles, and I am inspired by them! Every local church could do well to work on these principles for a while…

And just one other snippet: much older, and shorter, but equally powerful. Bernard of Clairveaux is reported as suggesting three basic ideas on how to lead a community. In his case it would have been a monastic community, but I think the wisdom applies still to other communities and leadership roles. He said the leader should see everything, correct little, and love the brethren.
In many ways this encapsulates the other principles I have described.

Great stuff here to reflect on.

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