|Jesus' Leadership in 6 Words|
|Written by Peter Johnston|
|Thursday, 29 September 2011 19:35|
Today was spent at a taster conference day at Orchardhill Parish Church with folks from Lead Academy, a group trying to encourage mutual support, encouragement, idea sharing, and accountability between churches. Andy Williamson and I attended from St Andrew's, and it was good also to see Hamilton Presbytery represented by a good number of other attendees.
I enjoyed the day. It had a mixture of worship, finding out about the work of Lead Academy, a trial group activity that I won't expand on too much in case we use it ourselves locally! Peter Neilson, who I know through numerous Church Without Walls events, was also present and gave us a talk about leadership that was much appreciated. As Pauline Steenbergen later commented, we had been 'wisdomised' by Peter! [There's more...]
In speaking about our own leadership as clergy or elders within our churches, Peter spoke about Jesus' own model of leadership and told us he could describe it in just six words. That pricked our interest. And there is something to it, as Peter expanded in the rest of his talk with us.
What are these six words?
Take, teach, test.
Peter encouraged us to reflect on how Jesus called the disciples, taking them from their trades and normal places to travel with him. They listened to Jesus teaching them and the groups that gathered around. They met in local synagogues as they moved from village to village - absorbing what Jesus was telling them and what he showed them through his actions. But it didn't stop there, though it often does in local churches. We draw people to faith and then teach, teach, teach... and hope that the rest sorts itself out...
That wasn't Jesus' model of leadership, Peter contended. For Jesus didn't treat his disciples as passive absorbers of his wise teaching. He quickly set about testing the disciples, sending them out to share the good news - to go out healing and setting people free from what bound them.
But it didn't stop there either, because Jesus took the disciples back in, and continued his teaching, asking questions of them, talking about the repercussions of what they were being called to do. And ultimately, he would then have to leave them to it. Jesus left the gospel message in their hands. He trusted them.
Take, teach, test.
This is not really the model of ministry from 50 years ago and still the image that some have of 'The Minister' who does everything, and the rest of the flock who meekly follow. This is a partnership of encouragement, of building a team of individuals, each with their own particular areas of skill or talent, with a common task to serve Christ in their community.
As a model of leadership it is challenging, because it means handing over to others what we do. It means admitting that there are some areas of ministry that, to be honest, we are just not good at, and saying to others within the community of faith that they are much better gifted in that area - that can take courage because it is an admission that we are not perfect. But not only that, this handing over of ministry to others, the trusting part of Jesus' leadership style also means being open to delegate those things that we are good at and enjoy doing. That can actually be even harder to do.
And thus, essential to all this, whether for ministers or elders, is a servant-hearted attitude towards leadership. Peter mentioned the Greek word kenosis which refers to the 'emptying-out' of ourselves, as Christ did in order to be incarnated among us. I think Peter was encouraging us to be aware not to allow our own egos to dominate and destroy the teams we seek to build, but rather humbly trust the people within the teams of which we are a part.
I am sure I have not done justice to what Peter said, but perhaps that gives you a flavour of his message to us. Certainly it is one that Andy, David Burt and I were listening to with a thought to our own situation and the discussions about the future shape of the church within Hamilton and Blantyre.
David and I spoke to Peter Neilson after the conference to speak about the possibility of him coming to speak to a joint church conference next year, and to encourage us in the team building that we need to embark upon between the congregations. If we can arrange it, this will be a great afternoon of encouragement and challenge for us all.
Liz Crumlish said: