Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Leadership Dilemmas

Jeff, over at Losing My Religion: Re-Thinking Church was answering some questions from Terra Rose about how to do small groups/home churches. It is quite good and attempts to answer some questions that people have about leadership in small groups.

This made me think today, as it usually does, about what we are going to do in the future.

Should we:

1. Continue to float along this river, letting Father bring in and out those he wants us to have a relationship with in his own timing. This option may contain never having an intentional time to “meet” as we all understand it. (A meeting for worship(singing together, fellowship and some form of Bible study or a message) This option eliminates the need for a specific “Leader” and I can see why some would choose it. We can still employ the gifts that we have been given. But in this form it would be randomly as the Father sees fit.


Frankly I’m still not entirely comfortable with this. I think you loose out on being in contact with people to the extent of making deep relational bonds with people who are not necessarily your best friends. I think you loose out also in the ‘corporate-ness’ of the body of Christ. It just seems too loose and not what I see the early Christians doing.

2. Join a smaller group or a group that has some kind of leadership established.


I still, have a hard time imagining myself ever being able to put myself in the position to be lead by a “pastor” or leader. I don’t believe I am not willing to submit. I am just very wary of submitting myself to someone who is not obligated to submit themselves to me in the exact same manner.

But here is the kicker. I am a realist enough to know thatI have never seen a group work without a true leader. Someone always needs to be the one to step in, direct, correct or place limits. Without this, I know, things fall apart. In the vacuum of no leadership the unhealthy lead. There are power struggles like Terra Rose related. Even in my own family of 7 children, we constantly need true leadership.

I would love a small group to work like the leadership works in my marriage. . Husband and I submit ourselves to each other. We decide things together. There are areas that we each have “leadership” over. But there is not one leader in our marriage. We work at it together. If someone HAS to have the final say on something, we would both say that he would be the “Final Sayer.” But to tell you the truth – in our 28ish or so years of marriage we have only had to revert to that maybe 3 times. And even that was decided together. But honestly, we can’t even run our family like this much less a group of believers. This kind of leadership necessitates mutual submission and maturity. Kids just aren’t there yet and I’m afraid grownups are not much better.

But at the same time I’m still so very skeptical of leadership that to join someone else’s thing ...it would scare me to death. I have a hard time visiting another group let alone ‘join’ it in any way. Maybe there is healing still needed (you think?) but I’m not so sure I’m going to change much on this.

3. The third option I know is out there and many of you would say is, “Start your own thing.”

And it is here that I am having a problem. I do trust myself or Husband (somewhat) to lead a group of people – but mostly because I know we are so committed to not being a controlling leader and trying – as we do in our family – to make the bulk of our life something that each can have a say in. As, in a family, I want shared leadership of various parts of the group. Sounds good right?

But here is my problem with starting our own thing. How can I ask others to be led by me (or Husband) when I am not willing to put myself in the same position (to be led by someone else)? Doesn’t that smack of pride to you? What I am honestly saying, if I am truthful with myself, is, “I don’t trust anyone but me to be the leader, but you must trust me to lead.” “I’m going to ask something of you that I’m not willing to commit to myself.”

Doesn’t that sound unhealthy to you? It does to me.

And therefore, here is the crux of the matter:

I really don’t feel like I can truly be a leader of anything until I am ready to make that same commitment to be led by someone else.

That is where I'm at today. Sigh.....

13 comments:

Tracy Simmons said...

You know what? I think you would join a group led by someone else, if--THE BIG IF!--you knew their heart was where yours is: Someone who believed that leadership is to be non-controlling, non-manipulative, mutually submissive, and humble in nature. I don't think you'd have any problems at with a group led by someone like that! The problem is, you'd have to join a group to find out if that were the case, and you know that those types of leaders are rarely found, so there's a good chance you'd be disappointed or burned unless you had some way of really coming to know the leader before you "joined" the group.

So, I don't think you should hold back because of this issue. Start it. Model it for others! Let it catch on like fire!

And that's what I think about that! :-)

Sarah said...

Wow, this is really thoughtful post with some important questions. I guess the only thing you can do is pray. See what He says about it all. That's all any of us can do, right?

Jeff McQ said...

Thanks, Barb, for your honesty and vulnerability, and also for the link-love. :)

I know we only know of each other what we read on the blogs, but for what it's worth...I think a lot of your concern will be resolved in time as you continue to seek God's healing. Your lack of trust of leadership is absolutely understandable. But you obviously have not lost your respect for the concept of leadership--only the bad apples themselves.

To make a statement like you made at the end of your post actually demonstrates a good heart for leadership. True leaders WANT to be led themselves, because they know that to have authority they must submit to authority. (The Roman centurion who sought Jesus to heal his servant is a good example.)

No flippant predictions here...but in time, who knows?

Jeff McQ said...

Thanks, Barb, for your honesty and vulnerability, and also for the link-love. :)

I know we only know of each other what we read on the blogs, but for what it's worth...I think a lot of your concern will be resolved in time as you continue to seek God's healing. Your lack of trust of leadership is absolutely understandable. But you obviously have not lost your respect for the concept of leadership--only the bad apples themselves.

To make a statement like you made at the end of your post actually demonstrates a good heart for leadership. True leaders WANT to be led themselves, because they know that to have authority they must submit to authority. (The Roman centurion who sought Jesus to heal his servant is a good example.)

No flippant predictions here...but in time, who knows?

Jennifer F. said...

You've already gotten great advice -- continue to seek God's healing, pray -- that I don't have much to add. Just wanted to let you know that I'm reading and praying for you and, as always, I admire your honesty and humility.

traveller said...

Barb, I understand your fears and concerns. Your number 1 is what I, along with some others, are experiencing now for a couple of years. Your assumption that 1 cannot involve meaningful deep relationships, I would suggest is incorrect. The fact that we do not have a "leader" who plans when we get together or what we do does not mean that the Spirit does not fill this role. For those who have never experienced this it seems so improbable and unlikely but I can assure you it is not only possible but a reality for some.

Is it easy? Is it immune to people at times attempting to takeover? No, of course not. But it is marvelous to watch the Spirit lead through the exercise of the gifts he has given within a group without having a "leader". "Leaders" are far less important than most people believe.

While I understand your concern about starting something. I believe you and Husband could start your numbers 1 or 3. No hurry.....when you are ready, if you ever are ready. The hardest part is the first step. Well, honestly, there will be some other hard times as well but that is the nature of relationships.....always messy. Being a follower of Jesus involves taking risks....

Heidi Wilson said...

Wow, this is almost exactly where I've been at. That is amazing. We have the possibility of being in leadership in the church we've been attending. But the fear of submitting again is rough. Like the woman who was abused by her boyfriend trying to date again, but ducking every time the new guy moves suddenly.

But if we cannot take this step with them, and we decide to plant something (which was something we have seriously considered), we wouldn't have to commit ourselves to another person... but how right is that?

Ha, I feel like all I do in these blogs is say, yeah... me too... but I don't have an answer. Only more questions. :) Sorry. My heart is with you.

Barb said...

Tracy, Thanks for the vote of confidence. Like Husband said last night, we just really need to hear from God. And I think the hearing will not come from a "Word" but just simply seeing a need and then stepping into it. Right now there is no one asking for this around us.

Sarah, Yep! It really is that easy. If it weren't for the constant nagging that we should be 'doing' something more. Maybe it will happen when that voice quiets down in my head.

Jeff, You are welcome for the link. You have written some really good posts lately. You last reference is something I need to study. I have always heard it used to, in my case, make the case for AUTHORITY (not in little letters) of the leaders. I need to study the passage and see if Jesus was actually making that point with his story. I know, in my case it was used wrongly but I have never looked at it to see if it teaches a principal of authority and being under authority or what.

Jennifer, Thank you so much. Do you know I have never really had an in depth conversation with a catholic to see what they really believe and feel? We were always just "taught" what the Catholics (said in a disparaging kind of tone) believed. Your blog has been such an inspiration to me as I read how you process "religion" and make it so real and true in your life in a way that us Protestants never even start to understand. Your walk with the Father is so real and in so many ways humbling to me. Thank you for your prayers. I value them.

Traveller, thanks for the wisdom. I know it can happen. I guess my biggest concern is seeing it happen to a stay-at-home mom who has very little contact with the outside world - either Christian or non. I hear men speak of this way but many of them are out in "ministry" kind of ways which opens doors to them that I don't have accessible to me. It is almost like the pastor who advocates a 40 day juice fast for his church. Fine for him - he can cut back on his schedule, even take some time off to fast and pray. But for the pregnant mom at home with 4 little ones or the construction worker out in the hot sun, there is often not a way to do what the pastor does and therefore they are left with an empty bag that the enemy uses to fill with guilt. (Fasting is so much holier than taking care of your children...right? :(
So this is the biggest issue I have with my #1 option.

But I know Father knows exactly where I am and he is not wringing his hands wondering how to do any of this. I feel right now that I am on a "Fast of Seeing" Here's hoping that it will lead to a life of actually Trusting Father.

traveller said...

Barb, I understand your point. It may be more difficult for a stay-at-home mom, at least in some ways. I do not know what your schedule is like but one thing my wife does (she is SAHM)is look for places to serve that allow the opportunity to meet people. This does not have to be an all consuming place but one that puts here in the position of helping people. This has brought us into contact with some very interesting folks very different from us and in need of God's love expressed through us.

I want to be clear I was not trying to be harsh or criticize you in my earlier comment. If it came acorss that way I apologize. I trust Father will give you wisdom as you sort through this. I also think that over time it may look different. In other words, there may not be "the" answer but several answers.

Barb said...

Traveller, you were not harsh at all. Please dont worry. You have always been the MOST gracious in anything you have said and I have come to value what you have to say on any site that I read. Thanks for your imput!

Tera Rose said...

"I am just very wary of submitting myself to someone who is not obligated to submit themselves to me in the exact same manner. "

well, I think you ought to be wary if one doesnt' submit one to another.

When I read about Jesus....I read him serving dinner to his friends after they went back to their old identities.....or was it breakfast? I just know that he sat on the beach roasting some fish on a fire and fed them before asking why they went back to their old fishermen identities.

I LIKE what you say about your marriage.

Maybe the comfort level isn't there because the spirit agrees with you?

I don't pretend to know the thoughts of God, but I don't think that all of our issues with authority are simply because we've been hurt. There are real issues.

I think it is ok to question authority- it seems to me that Jesus did and threw over some tables in the process.

It seems to me that he didn't shut up those who asked him questions.

It seems to me that He served (washed their feet) and was served (was washed in perfume).

It seems like it is a balance- an intercourse if you would- an exchange.

When you speak of your 7 children-- well, children need parents. That is a developmental stage.

But- if every adult on your street came to you with their problems and needed you to solve them in the manner that your children do- umm, wouldn't you move?

when you are a child, you drink milk....but an adult...you put away childish things.

SO its my opinion or preference (not doctrine) that I want to be with adults, side by side, building up each other as they have gifts.

The problem that I see- and perhaps should blog on.......is an IDOLTRY of leadership.

People LIFT up leadership as something more holy than any other role.

People lift up leaders and idolize them; people lift up the position and envy it....

something isn't right.

I've come to think that if something smells fishy.....well, then fish isn't too far.

trust your gut.

thats my advice-but did you ask?

LOL

tera rose

Barb said...

Thanks Tera Rose, I do ask for opinions. That is really the whole point of posting. Thanks for joining in. Jesus was one of those kind of leaders.

abmo said...

Hi Barb,

I think Wayne helps a lot with his answer today.

Go to http://lifestream.org/blog/?p=542