Recently, in my search for high quality resources for leadership development I stumbled across a disturbing graphic. It was a triangle entitled "Theology of Leadership Development and Mentorship: Intimacy with the Triune God and Biblical Leadership". Inside were listed 4 phrases, from bottom to top with decreasing font size: Heart of a Servant, Soul of a Teacher, Mind of a Manager, and Strength of a Leader. And around its three sides were the phrases: The Energy of the Comforter, The Creativity of the Creator, The Peace of the Christ. For me, in that moment, I saw a bar too high.
I think the most important word in that lofty title is 'development'. These phrases speak to character traits that we should be seeking to develop. They are not attributes that must be present before we can be called to positions of leadership. That is seen easily in Jesus' choice of disciples. But as I sat through a recent ordination service for a new elder, I wasn't, and am still not, sure we are bold enough in stating it- neither in our forms or conversations. God can't call only those who've spiritually disciplined themselves into leadership perfection because there aren't any of us!
So I am left with a burning set of rambling questions...
When letters go out to church members informing them of their nomination for office, or staff members approach individuals regarding stepping into ministry leadership roles, are they presenting the 'qualifications' in the context of a journey of growth into greater fullness? Are we intentional in those contexts to speak of the reality that none of us can measure up, but that we are here to offer grace, forgiveness and support along the way?
Do we leave space for imperfect people to feel 'called' into leadership positions in the way we talk about leadership within the church? Do the lists of character traits we seek in our pastors, elders, deacons and ministry team leaders get presented alongside hefty doses of grace that reflect God's grace as He filled up the gap that we could never make up?
Do we allow our ministry leaders space to be imperfect once they don their super hero capes? How do church members' attitudes towards imperfect leaders impact the decisions of others to serve when asked?
How can we more effectively highlight the development piece of leadership development for those who are considering a 'yes'? And how would that impact the willingness of those we approach?
More questions than answers in this piece. Probably the way it should be. All thoughts welcome.
P.S. If you have a burning desire to see the graphic mentioned above, click here.