Leadership in a Culture of Cowardice (part six)

What does it take to be a courageous leader, particularly amid a culture that’s steeped in cowardice?

20 cowardiceCan a pastor, denominational exec, or church leader actually turn the tide of emotional and spiritual regression before the Church loses what’s left of its traction in American society?

We’re examining courageous leadership, convinced that God has you reading this blog so that you might begin to practice a way of being in your life, your ministry, your business, your marriage, your family, your congregation, and your community for such a time as this.

I’m offering nine essential insights for pastoral leadership today. The first was this: courageous leadership is not about skill, technique, or knowledge.  It is, most of all, about the presence of the leader as he or she moves through life. The past five entries have explored what it means to be a self-defined person with a non-anxious presence. Now, we’ll turn to a second insight from Edwin Friedman, author of A Failure of Nerve—and it’s another attribute that Jesus modeled wonderfully for us.

Two: Take full responsibility for your own emotional being and destiny.

Most pastors struggle here: living as if they were responsible for the emotional being and destiny of dozens, hundreds, even thousands of other people — and then participating in life as if their own well-being and destiny were dependent on others: the Bishop, their elder board, the denomination, local economic trends, or some abusive control-freak in some position of leadership.

How might congregations accelerate their progress toward maturity were pastors to make this single, profound shift.

Let’s break it down.

Step one is to disconnect from the generations-long ministerial malpractice of taking responsibility for others.

You and your members can’t both be responsible for their well-being and destiny.

If you take responsibility for them, they won’t. If you don’t, and you stand with them as if they were responsible before God for their own being and destiny then maybe – just maybe – they will begin to step up and take responsibility for their own spiritual growth, spiritual progress, and maturity.

And, I can promise you this: until you do, there’s no chance they will.