Thursday, 13 April 2017

Leadership pointers

Maundy Thursday is perhaps not the place one would think of to find pointers on leadership.  Yet, this is perhaps the one facet of the drama of this night that is sadly forgotten about in our rush to celebrate Foot washing and the stripping of the Altar.  However, it is also perhaps the one most essential point of focus for the night, certainly as we debate governance and transparency within our ecclesial circumstances today.  Yes, the celebration of Easter is just around the corner so why do we have to deal with the mundane when we can deal with the spiritual axis and just forget about the mundane. We do perhaps need to understand that the Body of Christ that is the Church is a multidimensional beast and if we concentrate too much on the ethereal we will not become a whole body but rather something no one wishes to be involved in.

Christ leaves these leadership pointers to the last minute in the Gospel, perhaps to emphasize their importance to a Body that has to deal with the normality of life.  I think that there are perhaps six brief leadership pointers that the readings of the Last Supper reinforce in our lives.  Perhaps the most obscure is that leadership takes place in community.  We only have leadership when we form a community.  On our own we have no need of leadership it is when we are formed into a community that we need and desire some form of leadership.  The call to become a leader takes place within the context of a communal body, it is not an individualistic undertaking but a discernment of the community.  Christ takes a leadership role only amidst the community of disciples and in the context of the Jewish communal understanding of its faith journey.  Christ is acclaimed by the community as its leader.

Loving service is humble, accepting, visionary, committed whilst acknowledging
 the community and resistance.

Christ is accepting of the views of those around him in the gathered community.  He is well aware that there are those who are dissatisfied with his leadership and are in conflict.  He is also aware of the consequences that such acceptance brings to the situation.  In accepting he is ultimately fulfilling the vision that he has propounded as a leader even if others have not. During the action of the Gospel story we are made very aware of the imminent betrayal and of Christ's acknowledgement of it.  In leadership we need to be aware and accepting that some within the community will not like the vision that is proposed and will do anything they can to undermine the process.  However clearly the vision is seen there will always be resistance to the method or plan.  Peter did not see the need to submit to Christ's washing of his feet, it was not in his vision, he resisted.  Christ was patient and accepting of his resistance but reminded him that participation and commitment was everything.  Clarity would come only with the commitment to a larger ideal than could be encompassed by Peter at the time but he was willing to be obedient and committed even in his non-understanding.  Even a leader of a small community needs to be committed to the larger vision and context in which they serve.  It is in commitment that we learn, perhaps the greatest understanding within leadership that Christ has to offer at the supper and that is humility.  The ability to humble ourselves to show others the way forward even if it means lowering our expectations of ourselves and others.

Why do we all have to understand these leadership pointers, we are not all leaders?  Yet, as Christians we are all leaders in the Community as we are sent out as missionaries bringing Christ's vision into the hearts of those around us.  Who but us are leaders in faith?  Who but us are able to bring Christ into the homes of those we are friends with?  Who but us can take the lead of faith in our own communities?

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