In the teacher’s edition of this week’s lesson study, there is an exercise titled “Jesus Chairs the Nominating Committee.” The instructions are to write the list of current church offices, such as children’s Sabbath School teacher, social activities director, elder, deacon, greeter, church clerk, etc. on a white board for a discussion of how essential these positions are to the mission of the church, and what would Jesus do with a list like this?
It is a timely suggestion and a pertinent discussion. At my church this week we will be nominating the committee to name the nominating committee. And thus begins, the season of who amongst us? Placing the Sabbath School conversation within our own specific community helps move the discussion to what it means for us today. It also nicely reflects Ellen White’s understanding of leadership—that is in the context of community.
In the new Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, with its myriad entries from 182 authors, there is one on leadership by Skip Bell. He writes that, “In contrast to individual qualities of selected men and women of position, the dominant theme of her counsel on leadership is in the context of community. She envisioned relationships, empowered by the Holy Spirit, in which the influence is multidirectional. The influence flows among believers as they adapt to mission contexts, and is not coercive.” He suggests that there are five aspects to this community-oriented relational process.
1. Leadership happens as a church visions together. “The influence of vision exists both within a disciple’s experience with God and in the corporate nature of vision among the people of God.”
2. The Church leads together. “Leadership roles are shared, people are empowered, and trust is evident.”
3. The Church learns together. “The Holy Spirit guides as truth is sought and shared. Each is a learner, and biblical knowledge in particular equips each for their place in the leadership task.”
4. The Church acts together. “Christian disciples, ministering according to their spiritual gifts, join and organize for achieving a shared vision.”
5. The Church communicates together. “Churches exercise leadership in a climate of mutual understanding produced by conversation, understanding, and prayer.” (p. 930)
Vision heads the list, as it often does in books about leadership. In fact, lack of vision can be deadly. The phrase “that vision thing” has become synonymous for any politician’s failure to incorporate a greater vision into a campaign. It originated with George H. W. Bush in 1987. A friend had suggested that he spend some time at Camp David formulating his plans for his prospective presidency. “Oh, the vision thing!” he reportedly responded in exasperation.
So, what is the vision thing for a church as it starts the nominating committee process? Will it be for a vision of something larger than themselves?
In her classic book Jesus CEO: Using Ancient Wisdom for Visionary Leadership, Laurie Beth Jones reminds us that people will work “harder and longer on projects when they understand the overall significance of their individual contribution.” And Jesus clearly and consistently conveyed to his staff the significance of what they were doing.
What about the multidirectional aspect of authority? Will it flow among the members as well as the pastors? How inclusive will it be?
Jesus is praying for us as we go about His business. He says so in John 17:9, 10. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them.”
May He be glorified in what we do.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5866