Over the past year or so I've been thinking a lot about Leadership, Pastoral and otherwise. Here are just a few things I've been thinking:
1. Leaders Don't Know Everything. I know it's tempting, when you are looking for a leader, to try and find someone who "knows what we should do." But I'm not sure that is the best model for leadership, at least these days. Rather than a leader who is sure that he or she knows what to do in every situation, what about a leader who is curious about what s/he doesn't know and listening to the people and the culture around her for ideas and strategies? I think that curiosity and openness are under-valued qualities in a leader these days.
A parish member once said, "A Professional is someone who knows what to do when s/he doesn't know what to do." Not a bad qualification for a leader too: someone willing to say, "Actually I don't have all the answers, but I have some ideas for how we can find out."
2. Leadership requires courage. Absolutely. You can't be a leader if you are not able to step out and take some risks. And you have to know where the bottom line is for you, what is essential and what is not.
That being said, leadership does not mean standing alone. And courage is not stupidity. Leaders cultivate their courage by making sure there are people standing with them, behind them, alongside them, people who see a leader's vision taking shape and are willing to go there with them. Leaders cultivate people who will have their back in times of stress; that's one place that courage comes from.
3. Leaders listen and speak. I think when we think of leaders, we think of speaking. But actually, listening is just as important to the task of leadership. What to leaders listen to: leaders listen to stories. And leaders tell stories. They tell their own stories, and they tell stories of the past, present and future of the people they are leading.
4. Leading and Pastoring are both necessary, but they are not the same thing. If you are a good pastor, do not mistake people's respect for you as their pastor, as a willingness to follow your leadership. It is a separate skill. I can't imagine being able to be a effective leader in a parish if you're not a good pastor as well.
5 Leaders cultivate hope. It's not the same as optimism.
I hope to continue, and to develop this conversation.
Probably after Holy Week, though.