Minister’s Moment, January 2018
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the (people) to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
What comes to mind when you think of leadership? Do you imagine someone busy defining projects, giving orders and telling others what to do? Do you picture someone involved in all aspects of a program or project, frantically working to keep all the parts running smoothly? If so, I suspect you are thinking more of a manager than a leader.
This is not surprising in the least. Management and leadership are often conflated, especially in smaller congregations like ours. When this happens leaders (lay leaders and ministers) often spend more of their time managing people and projects than actually leading the organization.
“But how can we get anything done if we don’t have good management?” you ask. Good question! You can’t. Every organization needs both good management and good leadership, but they are not the same thing. As Gil Rendle, an Alban Institute consultant and church leadership expert, says in “What Leadership Is… and Isn’t,” management is “something that makes the organization operate smoothly.” Management tries to answer the question, “Are we doing things right?” By contrast, Rendle says, leadership asks the question, “Are we doing right things?”
In other words, management is focused on the details, reactive to what is happening in the present moment, and project oriented. Leadership is focused on the big picture, more proactive than reactive, and mission oriented. Managers make sure a project is completed and done well. Leaders articulate the vision of the organization and inspire and empower others to work together towards that shared vision.
Luckily we have great leaders and managers at Peoples Church! And, like all volunteer organizations, we could always do better to further understand how to work together, how to develop clearer pathways to leadership positions, and how to sustain volunteer service of all kinds as a fulfilling, spiritual practice.
So, what would it look like to have more spiritually grounded, sustainable, healthy leadership and management at Peoples Church? What would it look like to have a governance model that was clear, easy to understand, and functioned to liberate people for action?
This month at Peoples Church we will explore these questions of leadership and governance together. The good news is we have already taken the first step by approving a new mission (Hooray!). Now we just need to put policies and procedures in place to support our new mission and empower people to act. The Board is leading the way on this: please talk to them anytime for more information or to offer your input.
It is an exciting time at Peoples Church! I am excited to lead with you all into this next phase of our shared ministry.