Jonathan Brink put out the call for a synchroblog on leadership, to coincide with the Federal election over in the US. Given that I’m not exactly in that context, I thought that I’d ignore the context to a certain degree, and just take the opportunity to spew out some thoughts on what leadership starts looking like in the post-modern missionary context.
For starters, I think that it’s fair to say that the church model of having one person or a small group of people, authoritatively setting the agenda for “what we do” and “how we do it” is headed for obsolescence. It’s not a match with the relationally-centered, cynical post-modern mindset. The post-modern mind tends to be deeply skeptical of single points of truth, believing that every person has a bias, each is sub-consciously effected by the sliver of the world that they live in, and will only start to believe what they are being told when they feel they understand where some of those preferences and biases have come from.
So the easiest solution naturally seems to be to reject the concept of leaders and leadership, and instead opt for some kind of mob rule. But of course, this is completely unsustainable. Communities gather and grow together because they share something, whether that is a shared interest, a shared need, or shared goals. Without leadership, community either becomes a hostage of the loudest voices or else it loses all sense of purpose. There will always be leadership in churches and communities: an absence of leadership gets filled – just not always positively.
What then, does good leadership look like in the context of a relational, participatory community necessary to take seriously the post-modern culture we are hurtling towards? The role of the leader must become about building a community who are clear on “Who we want to be” a long way before being defined by “what we do”. And that must be a consistent and clear message – it’s first and foremost about how you act, how you lead your own life, how you interact and the priorities you have in your own life that has the opportunity to lead others.
And that’s the scariest part. A culture that has rejected positional authority as a barometer for reliability, will not believe leaders whose message they cannot see. Though the church has been frightened of post-modernity, we could discover that post-modernity will force the church to rediscover the need to incarnate the message we preach, if we are to survive at all.
This post is part of a Synchroblog on Leadership. The following blogs took part in the experiment:
Jonathan Brink – Letter To The President
Adam Gonnerman – Aspiring to the Episcopate
Alan Knox – Submission is given not taken
Joe Miller – Elders Lead a Healthy Family: The Future
Cobus van Wyngaard – Empowering leadership
Steve Hayes – Servant leadership
Geoff Matheson – Leadership
John Smulo – Australian Leadership Lessons
Helen Mildenhall – Leadership
Tyler Savage – Moral Leadership – Is it what we need?
Bryan Riley – Leading is to Listen and Obey
Susan Barnes – Give someone else a turn!
Lionel Woods – Why Diverse Leadership is Good for America
Julie Clawson – Leadership Expectations
Ellen Haroutunian – A New Kind Of Leadership
Matt Stone – Converting Leadership
Steve Bradley – Lording or Leading?
Adam Myers – Two types of Leadership
Bethany Stedman – A Leadership Mosaic
Kathy Escobar – I’m Pretty Sure This Book Won’t Make It On The Bestseller List
Fuzzy Orthodoxy – Self Leadership
Sonja Andrews – Leadership In An Age of Cholera
Tara Hull – Leadership & Being A Single Mom
Glen Hager – Election Day Ponderings On Leadership
Beth Patterson – Leadership:Being The River
Joe Speranzella – Leadership: This Election and Social Justice