Tuesday, February 24, 2009

37. Organic Leadership

Trying to lead in an organic community is a different bag of tricks. I have the ghost of former leadership paradigms always creeping in. I love this new environment of leadership though. Such an adventure. Most of all I like how it allows me to be me without manipulating other people in the name of Jesus. Great freedom here, but great challenges as well. Right now I am learning the art of community engagement. I never did much of this before in my ministry career. This is too my fault of course. I am now learning to be in conversation with the people I am trying to "lead" and it is a beautiful process. No more depending on charisma and personality. God and discernment, community and gifting, and most of all calling are prerequisites to leading people. All of this is a gift, skill set and discipline.

In trying to put my thoughts together on this, I created a diagram to sort of help myself distill my thoughts on this new way of approaching leadership. The following diagram represents the paradigm I was both formally, and informally trained to lead in.

The leader goes off and spends time with God and gets a vision from God, that oddly enough would also align with his or her own values, giftings and passions, or shortly put, their spiritual DNA. In turn, they would develop a strategy of how to accomplish this vision and turn to the community and basically say, "Here is my vision, are you with me or not?" As you can see, this puts a lot of pressure on the community. Not to mention it basically treats the community as a support structure for the leader. In other words, the community is there to follow the leader and serve his or her vision. (The vision of course being narrowly interpreted by a few for the many.) In raw straight forward terms, the leaders in this situation ends up harvesting the members energy, time and gifts for "their" vision. It assumes that the leader knows what God wants the people in the community to do. I could say a lot more about this model and its limitations, but I will stop here for time purposes. I will say however that there are times and situations when this model of leadership is appropriate, so don't get me wrong here.

There is another way of approaching leadership however. I will use the trendy word organic to describe it, but it really is a good term to use when explaining this different approach. The following diagram illustrates this.

As you can see, it starts with people being in conversation about their individual values, giftings and passions in a community setting. On an individual level, this approach provides a pathway to discover what God is up to and how I fit in with it in my own situation outside of a group dynamic. Community is a great place to discover and affirm your spiritual DNA. However, what happens if God is brewing things together where a pattern starts to emerge in a community with peoples DNA? This in my mind warrants a process of discernment on what a group can do collectively for God. This sort of creates a group dynamic for collective ministry efforts.

In organic communities, often times people may not have a homogeneous passion or calling. People may be called to vastly different directions in ministry. This is what can make house church and simple church sort of challenging if you have a conventional church background. You are so used to operating primarily on the collective, group dynamic level that you skip the personal discovery of gifts and calling etc. This leaves you sort of wondering if we should be "doing more" on a group level. (There is of course a place for serving as a group etc) Leadership in an organic environment is more like facilitating people to learn their gifts and operate in them. Leadership is not telling other people what to do for God, as if any of us know that for other people! When you do this, you actually end up cloning people after your own DNA. Cloning is when you take one persons DNA and try to reproduce it in another person. Everyone has different DNA when it comes to ministry direction. You do not pick your DNA and you can not clone people or communities after your own DNA. TO try and do this ends up being manipulative at best and spiritually abusive at worst. A more healthy approach is to nurture the DNA that is already there into healthy expressions so it can flourish into life giving forms.
Another contrast to the top down approach is the vision and strategy are open ended in this organic model of leadership. They are not tied to one persons perception of the situation. You do not arrive at a destination here. It is a constant journey which feeds off of your DNA and calling of God in the context of community. Any feedback on this?

No comments: