Everyone has expectations of leaders. These expectations come in many different forms, including, but not limited to:
Who a leader will be
What a leader will say
How a leader will act
What roles a leader will play
When a leader show up
Leadership often comes in unexpected ways from unexpected people. As you think about the goals on which you are trying to make progress, remember that exercising leadership may be distinct from what we expect of people in leadership.
Whether you are a delegate or onlooker at General Conference, there is the opportunity to take action to make progress in The United Methodist Church. Voting, taking leadership in a legislative committee, providing hospitality, monitoring, listening in – there are all kinds of opportunities to take action that might in some small way affect the outcomes of General Conference.
One of the roles of a leader is to pay attention to one’s actions and how they are or are not being shared. As you consider your hopes or goals for General Conference, ask yourself:
There are at least three shifts in leadership perspective that are helpful in making progress on issues that we care about.
Technical to Adaptive – There has been much talk about the adaptive challenges that are facing the denomination. It will be important to seek to make progress in ways that are not just rewriting rules.
Benign to Conflictual Interpretations – General Conference does not seem to have challenge making conflictual interpretations. Focusing them on making progress will be an important opportunity.
Individual to Systemic View – This is one of the most important leadership shifts that could help make progress at General Conference. It can be easy for delegates to take the perspective of themselves, their annual conference or affinity group. More progress will be made by paying as much attention as possible to the entire system – both during the days of meeting ahead in Tampa and the months to follow.
Have you found our denomination to be making these shifts? What else might be helpful to make progress?
The various committees of General Conference do important work of the church that has significant impact on the outcomes of the entire gathering. After the first few hours of committee take a moment to reflect on your role int he group and know that if you want to have a different impact on the system, you need to take different actions. Here are three questions that may be helpful in trying to make progress on issues that you care about.
Yesterday, I traveled with the senior staff from Resurrection to the Lutheran Church of Hope. It was an opportunity to benchmark another church and have conversation about how ministry happens in their setting. I have had the opportunity to take part in several of these trips during my time at Resurrection to visit other congregations both larger and smaller than Resurrection. The bus ride is always a great opportunity to connect with fellow staff members and it was a great time touring Hope’s West Des Moine location and spending time in conversation with some of their staff. Here is some of what I learned:
Mission, vision and values are what holds true across all of their campuses
Senior pastor provides a worship plan six months in advance with the series, sermon title, scripture passage and a sentence or two about direction for the sermon
Rooms all have numbers. No ministry area has claim to a particular room.
A culture of trust in leadership has been developed that has proven beneficial over time.
If you can’t give cheerfully, we don’t want you to give. Giving will bring you freedom.
Success looks different in different contexts
Bigger or smaller isn’t better, better is better.
Who are the people that no one else is going after?
Being in transition to serving as lead pastor at El Dorado First United Methodist Church, I also had some personal reflections:
Touring the buildings of other churches is not worth much. There are little things that can be picked up about facilities, but overall the building that the church has is what it will be. The building at El Dorado First seems to have been kept up well and is an asset for ministry.
There was a sense of camaraderie amongst the staff of our churches – similar worship attendance, programs and ministries and hopes and dreams for the congregations. I am looking forward to finding out which churches are “peers” to El Dorado First.
Last week, someone shared with me an insight that they had gained serving as a volunteer at Resurrection.
You can’t lead beyond the leader.
If you are not ultimately responsible for a ministry area, worship service, congregation, or nearly any other grouping of people there is always some limit on what you can implement. The leader has to make space for engagement, different perspectives and empower those that are being lead.
As a leader, equipping others is one of the most important things that I do.
As a follower, patience, encouragement and service are valuable in making progress.