Habit 6 – Well-formed leadership
I’m sure we’ve all been to an event (anything from a sport team, to a meeting,…) where the leadership leaves us uncertain, hesitant about the event. That is the opposite of what we want.
Well-formed leadership is integral to an effective church.
Let me stress at the outset: all of us in church have leadership roles…
Those who lead the community (clergy and other leaders) need to be well-formed, have studied deeply (and continue to study), and have (ongoing) best-practice training.
In leading a service, it undermines worship when the leader does not trust the tradition. Don’t be apologetic about what you do. Be comfortable with what you do.
A new bishop thought he would be self-conscious about wearing a mitre. A priest friend of his advised him to wear the mitre about the house. “But I might forget I am wearing it; and answer the door with it still on…” he responded before he realised that this was the very point…
Don’t give constant commentary. Do the action, the gesture – then say the acompanying words. The action with the accompanying words should be enough – padding it out with, “Now I am going to walk into the middle,… now we are going to do this… when this happens it means…” generally just clutters the service, creating blockages to its natural flow.
Then there are those who, by the way they do things or even saying so, indicate they only do this, say these words, because they are required to, it is in the book, and if they had their way they wouldn’t. That goes all the way to wearing vestments badly, uncared for… (“I know I’m wearing an alb, but by the way I sit, crossing my legs with my calf parallel to the floor, and the alb hitched up and dropping open, it should be clear I’m just an ordinary bloke, wearing this because I’m required to…”)
Silence is important, and needs to come in significant blocks at appropriate points. I have seen service leadership where I was never sure whether we were being reverently silent, or my emphathy was kicking in because the service leader had lost his place or forgotten what he was going to do next.
Without encouraging some sort of cult of the leader, we all know the difference that a good leader makes; the difference that bad leadership makes.
But beyond the leader of the community, all of us are involved in leadership. Leadership begins at the door as people arrive. There may be welcomers assigned. All of us can tell stories of the most attrocious welcome we have received. Somehow basic human politeness seems to stop at many a church door. The welcome to church should surely be at least as welcoming as an effective cafe or restaurant or shop.
Leadership continues: those sitting beside you; readers; prayer leaders; musicians; ushers; communion distributors;… all of us, all the baptised, have a ministry – and that includes leadership. And each ministry, all leadership, needs regular, sensitive review, and appropriate and ongoing formation, study, and training.
Today is the Sixth Day of Easter.