Lead On - Resourcing your ministry, leader to leader

Welcome to the latest edition of Lead On, the monthly email with leader-to-leader input from CPAS. If you know others who may be interested in this email, please forward it on or point them towards www.cpas.org.uk/leadon. Thank you.

Defining reality

‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between a leader is a servant and a debtor.’ Max De Pree
At the start of a new year it is good to remind ourselves of what we are about as leaders. Of course, there are hundreds of leadership definitions, and thousands of opinions on each of those definitions, so where to start?
Above is one I find helpful, and over the next three editions of Lead On we’ll explore each phrase. To begin: ‘The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.’
Reality. Whose reality? And why is this the first responsibility?
In order to exercise leadership it helps to know how things are, otherwise we may well make decisions on the basis of information that is inaccurate. Defining reality is about daring to discover truth, to delve into emotions, and to discern perceptions. Courage is needed.
Because we are brilliant at deluding ourselves, such defining of reality is rarely done well on our own. It is normally much better to do it with others. Whether we are attempting to define the reality of our inner life as a leader (are we really growing in godliness?), or the reality about the outer life of the leader (are we really leading the team well, running great meetings, helping the process of discerning a clear sense of direction?) asking others to comment as colleagues, probe as mentors/spiritual directors, and challenge as fellow disciples is vital to the process.
Why not commit some time to be in quiet with God, some time with those we lead with, and some time with those we lead to ask them to help you define reality.  A simple question can get the ball rolling: ‘how do you see things?’ Don’t be defensive, don’t react, just simply listen and engage. If you want to go somewhere you need to know where you are starting from. Really!
Lead on

Becoming conflict resilient

Alastair McKay is executive director of Bridge Builders, an organisation committed to helping leaders handle conflict well. In this article he helpfully outlines ways to build competence and resilience when dealing with conflict.
How do you feel about conflict in the church? Worried? Scared? Angry? Energised? Hopeful? Most of us tend to have negative associations with conflict, especially within the church, where we think the focus should be on loving one another.
Read the full article


You are the Messiah, And I should Know
Justin Lewis-Anthony (Bloomsbury)
This is both a fascinating and frustrating book. 
Its origins are in a PhD thesis and this is part of the fascination. Lewis-Anthony’s sources range widely, providing stimulating insights from film, biography, theology and history. I learnt about many things. But this is also part of its frustration. I didn’t find the argument cogent or always easy to follow as we leapt from one area of exploration to another.
As I understand it the fundamental critique of leadership is (a) that our understanding of leadership is derived from a myth promoted through the dominance of American films, the myth of a solo-leader who will rescue, which is rooted in violence (b) that on issues of leadership people read back into the Bible from their assumptions rather than allow it to speak for itself.
I can see elements of truth in both these things, but at the same time wish for a more coherent analysis of Christian leadership. Leadership isn’t a myth. It exists. Whilst the myth he expounds is helpfully analysed, there is frustratingly little on how to reconstruct an understanding of Christian leadership.
Despite this, there is much to grapple with and it is a book that will stir you to think, and that is a good thing. It has certainly helped me to reflect on assumptions I bring to leadership, where they come from and how they might need to be shaped differently.

Additional resource material

With the publishing of the Pilling Report a number of people have asked if there are resources to help individuals and churches explore this issue from the perspective of a traditional biblical understanding of same-sex relationships. You can find some links to websites and resources here.  
A thoughtful review of Tim Keller’s book Centre Church can be found on the Matthias Media website.  
The Diocese of Bath and Wells recently held their clergy ’gathering’ and the talks are now available on the Bath and Wells website. The one by Tim Radcliffe on leadership is a stimulating listen. 
Want to understand a bit more about Gen Y? Watch this YouTube video from http://askgeny.com

Leadership talk

'We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.'
Max de Pree

Next month...

Developing young leaders

Andy Castle writes on developing younger people as leaders.  


Graham Archer offers some web-based resources. 

making disciples, developing leaders, growing churches

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