Saturday, March 06, 2010

Two dimensions of leadership - March 7, 2010

As I conclude these reflections on the priest I now focus on the leadership role of the pastor. Here perhaps I need to ask for your patience because I am no Alan Greenspan when it comes to finances or Mother Teresa when it comes to spirituality or Billy Graham when it comes to preaching. Yet a modern parish does demand a great variety of skills from its leader. Funds need to be raised, facilities to be maintained, classes to be taught, service projects to be organized, supplies to be purchased. Thank God St. Luke’s doesn’t ask me to do all these tasks. However, it does expect me to elicit the gifts from this congregation. I need somehow to marshal the talents present here and move St. Luke’s toward accomplishing its mission. Of all the qualities of an effective leader communication is right there at the top. You need to stand with the people and experience together the glories and tragedies of life. Together we experience mercy, pain, loss, disappointment, success and all other dimensions of the human drama.

The second dimension of the leader is to be attentive to the whole and not just to the individual parts that make up a parish. Like any community, a parish represents people with disparate interests. It is the role of the leader to remind people they belong to something bigger than themselves. A leader is called to create forums of all sorts where competing ideas can be brought together. At times the ideas are clear; other times there can be a cacophony of opinions and strategies. A further need is to know how to delegate tasks to others. Leadership needs to be shared if it is to be effective. It is the insecure leader who cannot let go. Part of leadership is vulnerability which allows him not to be in control of every situation. Edwin Friedman captures what is required of the leader’s “non-anxious presence.” This allows the leader to be engaged in the life and tensions of the community. As a leader I am confident in people’s abilities to be mature adults. Constructive solutions and strategies can emerge from our relationship together. God’s good spirit is in our midst and will lead us in ways that foster peace. I welcome any feedback to these reflections.

Fr. Bob Hawkins

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