Last week I had the opportunity to attend the annual Leadership Institute hosted by the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, KS. I have attended several times and I’ve never been disappointed. This year was no exception. As a matter of fact several of the sessions confirmed some of the things that I’ve learned in pastoral leadership and brought to light some new approaches to the tools I plan to use. But the best part of the whole thing was the one liners – the nuggets of truth! I thought I would share a few of them with you.
First – some context. I am influenced by a book written in 1991 and reprinted in 2003. It is Understanding Leadership by Tom Marshall. Marshall speaks plainly about the fact that leadership at its core is relational. It is the ability to share a visionary idea or future that is so compelling your audience does not want to be left behind or left out. (Not Marshall’s words exactly but the best that I could do so summarize 224 pages.) This is my lens on leadership.
So now for stage two – the leadership nuggets from last week.
Let me set the stage with something that Adam Hamilton – Senior Pastor at COR shared about the difference between managers and leaders.
Managers by definition plan and budget. Managers like to control the situation and spend their time problem solving. Managers also like predictability and order. In other words managers like processes more than people and they like to maintain the system.
Leaders by definition prefer to cast vision and establish direction. Leaders are motivators who want to inspire their audience. Leaders also dwell in chaos and change. In other words leaders see a better world than the one that currently exist. There is the world as it is and the world as it should be – leaders want to tackle the gap between the two!
So now that we have that base covered – here are a couple of the other nuggets shared by Nancy Ortberg, John Ortberg and Adam during their individual sessions.
“Leadership is the ability to create a way for people to contribute to make something extraordinary happen.” Ron Heifetz quote shared by Nancy Ortberg
“Leadership requires disturbing people – but at a rate they can absorb.” Ron Heifetz quote shared by John Ortberg
“Leaders don’t have all of the right answers, leaders have the right questions.” Nancy Ortberg/Lovett Weems
In leadership and in life “conflict is the only way to intimacy.” Nancy Ortberg
“A leaders greatest fear is not what happens to us, but what can happen in us.” John Ortberg
And best funny story of the sessions was told by John Ortberg:
“A pastor and his wife were out for a walk and he was sharing his nervousness about voicing necessary change in the church he was leading. He said to his wife that whenever he gets up to share with the church’s governance team what he envisions for the future, his palms begin to sweat. And to make matters worse, he said that his mouth gets real dry. His wife simply said to him – ‘It sounds like you need to lick your palms.'”
As I reflect on these things I know that there are times when I revert to being a manager. Tasks are easier – they don’t have emotions, they don’t talk back, they don’t have a differing opinion and you can walk away from it whenever you want to without worrying about hurting its feelings.
However our churches don’t need better managers – it is very evident that we need visionary leaders. Men and women who see the broken world as it is and who hold a God-ordained vision of how the world is supposed to be AND they are compelled to rally a community of Christ-followers to be transformation agents who do something about it.
As Marshall points out in the 20 chapters of his book – leadership takes a whole bunch of character and skill to forge ahead in a world that wants to beat back the light of God’s salvific message.
So aren’t nuggets fun? I think of them as bit-sized Snicker’s candy bars – a sampling that leaves you wanting more!
So what is the “more” that you desire for your leadership?
– Power of the Spirit?
– A thicker skin?
What is it for you? So what are you going to do about it?
Just a few nuggets for your thought.
Blessings for the journey!