Leadership and Power
In the midst of holiday garlands and end of the semester grading, carols and case studies, I received a very "Official Appointment Advisory Form." Hurriedly I clicked on the e-mail, opened the document – mainly to see how long I could put off attending to it – but the first question peaked my interest. It read: "What missional factors have you considered in making your appointment request and how does your pastoral leadership contribute to these factors?" (Italic mine) Leadership – I was intrigued. We talk about leadership, we even teach about leadership. We enact leadership every day, but do we have/take time to think deeply about the leadership we practice.
This ecclesial form offered me the opportunity to think more deeply about leadership. Below are some strands of my evolving understanding and practice:
Leadership is no longer a set of practices to be mastered and implemented. Leadership is not about exerting power over the other(s). Leadership is a way of being – in honest, intentional relationships. Leadership requires listening often- both to others and to the quiet whisper of Spirit - they frequently merge into the same voice. Leadership is not all about me. What a relief. Leadership is about relationships. I experience this as a liberation to love that fuels a more authentic leadership.
Power understood as relational, contingent, and open-ended is risky and rich with possibilities rather than certainties. Like manna this power spoils when we try to hoard it, to amass a stockpile against possible threat. This power is expectant. Perhaps that is why this ecclesial form came during Advent…
Trudy Hawkins Stringer