Posts Tagged ‘ leading ’

passion: screwing around with a relational barometer?

“Where’s your passion?”  “I’ve lost my passion?”  “I can’t find my passion?”  “Has anyone seen my passion?”

I think passion is a tad over-rated.  Maybe we are passion-crazed like we are sex-crazed. 

Why does the artist create?  Why does the parent parent?  Why does the teacher teach?  Why does the pastor pastor?  Why does the singer sing? 

Sure, passion may invigorate these ways of life from time-to-time.  But passion is not enough to sustain an artist who paints day in, and day out.  For the serious artist, deadlines, obligations, and the need to pay the rent are every bit as important as passion.  Passion is often fickle and fleeting. 

To base a faith community or ongoing ministry on passion is to set it up for failure; for often the first wind of difficulty empties the “passion sail.”  In such cases our allegiance to our callings maybe equivalent to an adolescent falling in love/falling out of love.

Passion maybe to ministry, what great sex is to marriage; it’s wonderful, it’s vital – it may even be a relational barometer (a useful tool for gauging atmospheric pressure) – but the marriage had better be more than great sex.

I am not arguing for passionless ministry, on the contrary.  I’d like to see passion within a committed relationship.  It seems that some of our emerging church influencers “sleep around”.  Maybe young influencers would be wise to save their passions for a “ministry-marriage” of sorts. 

A little passion-chastity may move us in the direction of ministries which break the national divorce rates. 

Passion is not neutral; it is both glorious and destructive at the same time.  Wisdom encourages passion within relational commitment and exercised with discretion, and time/space/relationship sensitivity. 

peace, dwight

leadership is conversation

After sitting with the question of “the nature of leadership” for some time, I find myself moving toward a very simple understanding.  Is leadership is about conversation. 

Leadership has less to do with the clarity of vision, and much more do to with the quality of conversation. 

Rarely does a stated vision mobilize a person/community to live into a new reality however the quality of an invitational conversation which dynamically shapes the ethos of codividuals can and does alter the present and future of codividuals.  Influence is dialogical.  Leadership which stands apart from the led may be a “Type-A myth.” 

How one fosters conversation is everything.  Bringing self to the table, creating open space, speaking, naming, surrendering the need to be right, etc.  Hidden agendas, unstated vision, passive aggressive needs to control, and rigid categories are just a few of the many ills ready to subvert conversation.

Peace, dwight

pastoring as bi-vocation

Many avant-church leaders/hosts/facilitators/curates/etc. are serving in bi-vocational ways; meaning they earn their living working a “regular” job in order to support their community habit.  Some have made this a conscious decision, others have been forced into this bi-vo-role by slower than expected growth. 

Increasingly I believe that most paid staff in churches – including clergy – serve a bi-vocational role.  Their paying job is to manage the institution or structure and provide a host of goods and services for those people within their affective community.  Running those structures and providing religious services creates contexts for transformation through connection. 

As such it may be helpful for us to think of all clergy as bi-vocational.  The primary responsibility of clergy is to curate-connective space which encourages kenotic relationship with God, with one another and with creation. 

I’ll say more on this later.

peace, dwight

leading vows

A few years ago I asked a few people to help me see myself as “pastor” and “leader”.  Through the process of that three month conversation I made a number of commitments that I revisit often and fail even frequently.  Here’s where I’m at with these:


  • I vow to lead within the context of loving relationships.
  • I vow to receive personal criticism as a sober gift and to search it for God’s invitation.
  • I vow not to teach or preach if I cannot interact with people.
  • I vow to ask more questions and make observations inviting participation rather than give answers.
  • I vow to let my life authenticate my voice.
  • I vow to hear, see, know and learn from Christ in others.
  • I vow to missionally link beyond what I see as safe today.
  • I vow to decrease, to become less and to celebrate others more.
  • I vow to ask for forgiveness when I wrong, to love when wronged, and to regularly express my need of others.
  • I vow to love my limitations.
  • I vow to be open seeing God where I might least expect him – “You never know.” 
  • I vow to introduce chaos when I feel most secure.
  • I vow to respond to the many and varied actions my communities call forth from me.
  • I vow to hold any sense of vision with humble suspicion. 

peace, dwight

leading… why no one IS “leader”

I was rereading The Web of Life and The Hidden Connections by Capra this morning (he’s best known for his book The Tao of Physics). 

These thoughts come from his work:

A living social system of any sort, be it a family, a church, a school, a country, etc, is a self-generating network of communications.  “The aliveness of an organization resides in its informal networks, or communities of practice.”  Bringing life into human organizations means empowering their communities of practice; the aliveness does not reside in any person(s) holding the title “leader.”

“You can never direct a social system; you can only disturb it.”  Chaos is our friend.  Those people serving in influencing roles exist, in part, to disturb social systems, not to maintain or grow them in any controlled sense.  A living network chooses which disturbances to notice and how to respond. Leading is influencimg the communal hermeneutic in the inevitable process of “noticing.”  A message will get through to people in a community of practice when it is meaningful to them.

“The creativity and adaptability of life expresses itself through the spontaneous emergence of novelty at critical points of instability.”  Every human organization contains both designed and emergent structures. The challenge is to find the right balance between the creativity of emergence and the stability of design.  Of course there is no “Orthobalance” (right-balance) if i can coin a term.  In a wonderful conversation over lunch this week, Dan Allender offered an excellent example of this from the world of ship building.  Two primary concerns in building a boat: stability and speed.  A boat can be designed to be virtually uncapsizable, but in so designing we sacrifice speed, on the other hand we can build a boat that is incredibly fast but it will likely be sunk.  We can’t have a boat that is both fast and stable.

Vision in this line of thinking is less about a static idea of who “we” are becoming but vision becomes becomes a dynamic or living “way of seeing” which involves facilitating the emergence of novelty by building and nurturing networks of communications; creating a learning culture in which questioning is encouraged and innovation is rewarded; creating a climate of trust and mutual support; and recognizing viable novelty when it emerges, while allowing the freedom to make mistakes.  One of the big issues because the attention to extending the web of the their living system.

Peace, dwight

leadership called into existence

I have been appreciating some of the recent “leadership” literature emphasizing that leaders are not made nor born as much as they are situationally called into existence.

I’ve been telling my community for years that the clearer the sense of vision a person/community has for the future the less likely that vision is from God. That is not the way God generally leads. He leads us to the place where “we don’t know” and “can’t see.” It is not God’s way to give us specifics – he seems to take us to places where trust grows, (or is more likely to grow). He leads us to faith not certainty.

I believe that the church is so caught up in the vision thing because it is easy. A clear vision rally’s people and excites. Trust is too hard.

Our modern use of vision is often little more then marketing bullshit. We try to craft a vision that is big enough for people do buy into because we have little idea want God’s vision is. Because vision sells but has no substance. We don’t trust God’s leading into the ambiguous, so we create visions that sound “Christian” and sell like it is God’s. We kid ourselves into believing that we have heard God’s voice when all we’re after is little more then self-preservation. And we wonder why Christians are so weak, human-sized vision in a God-sized meta-narrative produces self-centered religion. The preservation of the church should never concern us, that’s God’s deal.

God does not give a five year plan, with aggressive but attainable action items. I and my community must decrease. We are being invited to empty ourselves, to love and to lose. Even so may we lose quickly.

Peace, dwight