Whilst the situation with the spread of COVID-19 is concerning, there are simple and sensible actions we can take to help reduce the spread and help allay fears in our community. This is also an opportunity to take a fresh look at some of our practices and consider if there are more suitable alternatives that will help to maintain a safe church.
Lose the leader
By Craig Bailey
Director of Leadership,
Uniting College for Leadership & Theology
Posted in Leadership
Maybe you don't need to. Possibly someone in your life cut through the superman-iac, ego-driven, self-serving model of leading and left a really positive imprint on your mind.
But for many of us, the shadow of the overbearing coach, strict teacher or other domineering humanoid was almost all we ever knew about leaders. I have the odd student whose heart palpitates at the mention of the word "leader" and quiet mutterings about Hitler, Thatcher, Mugabe, and so on can sometimes be heard. The truth is that even softer images of this narrow band of leader type need to be lost. There are better ways and models to follow.
A good start is to replace leader with leadership. It immediately gets the spotlight off the hero myth and shares the glory. And the glory is not in super solo feats of bravery or stunning oratory or amazing Mr/Ms Fix-it solutions. These exist on rare occasions, and even then are surrounded by a cloud of willing participants who are quickly forgotten. Think about this: Sir Edmund Hillary had Tenzing. Batman has Robin. Luther King had a lesser known teacher named Rosa Parkes. But maybe the real leader led from behind. Furthermore, maybe there was more to it than meets the eye, and there was a team of women and men who never get named, and in the end make the so-called hero look better than they really were.
No, the glory is in leadership. Not in the leader. Not in the great individual. The glory is in the great team, that bunch of often ordinary women and men who have the grace and humility to let go of personal agenda, to rejoice in each other's successes, to deal with the messy and sometimes hard yakka of learning how to work together, always keeping their eyes on a prize that's bigger than what they are.
A couple of thousand years ago, the architect of much of the formation of the early Christian community got this idea and said: "The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others" (1Corinthians 12:7 CEV). There, in few words, you have it. The Spirit has given each of us. Not the special people, but each of us, all of us. No super-humans here. The words also identify a common purpose that's bigger than all of us put together – the opportunity of serving others. Not making one person look really amazing. The NIV translation of this passage calls it the common good.
Apart from anything else, leading with others feels better. It can get lonely at the top, whatever or wherever "the top" is. So, why not lose the leader and embrace leadership? It's heaps more fun.
More from Leadership
All dates and venues have been finalised in the consultation rounds for what future Presbyteries in South Australia might look like.
Assembly General Secretary Colleen Geyer has delivered a wide-ranging reflection on the future of the Church at the Uniting Leadership and Theology Symposium in Adelaide. In a speech traversing sustainability, diversity, structure and identity Colleen asks can we as the Uniting Church be bold enough to listen to our history, step away from what has always been, be open to where God is leading us and step aside for the leaders who'll take us there?