Rural Leadership Skills
There are many words to describe the past few weeks of my life as pastor. Some of those words are “too much,” “overload,” “migraine-inducing,” “an abundance of activity,” “are you crazy?” or “typical life of a pastor.”
The week before Convocation fit all of the above.
Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. - Ps. 4:4
Be still. Be quiet. Listen.
As a child, I can remember my parents saying each of these to me on various occasions. Often my mind seemed to be on another planet.
The Kinds of Questions Faithful Leaders Ask of Life’s Texts
(In my previous post I argued that the image of "exegesis" can be helpful to us as we make leadership decisions in the parish. Many of the same questions we ask of a biblical text in preparation for preaching can be helpful to us as we "read" a particular situation or dilemma that faces us and then decide how to respond.
The need for problem-solving is one of the day to day realities of leadership in the parish. Every week pastors are presented with complex situations that require us to discern a faithful response. Confronted with the enigmatic riddles and Gordian knots that mark life in congregation, we find ourselves continually asking God, “What in the world should we do?” What should we do in response to the conflict in that family? How should we best approach the board about that planned change? What should we do about the Sunday School issue?
Jean Vanier is the founder of the L’Arche homes, where persons with developmental disabilities live in community with those of us who are disabled in other ways. Vanier’s book “Community and Growth” is one of the wisest and most profound meditations upon authentic life in community that has ever been written. “Community and Growth” offers countless lesson to rural church leaders, more of which will be shared in this space.
At one point in the book Vanier shares the following quotation from a letter written by Little Sister Madeleine, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus:
At the Western North Carolina Annual Conference Service of Ordination last week, United Methodist Bishop William Hutchinson preached a powerful ordination sermon. During a portion of the sermon, Bishop Hutchinson shared one of the multitude of great Fred Craddock stories, this one taken from the book "Awakened to a Calling". Here's what he said: