Missional leadership reflections

I have returned from the KCME residential at Aylesford Priory.I never look forward to these things but as ever it was good to spend time with friends over a few beers and of course the malt in the evenings.

I have been reflecting since my return and asking myself what I have come away with and what I have either learned or been challenged by.

On the first day Bishop Graham Cray delivered a talk and led a plenary afterwards for an hour, both of which were good. His title was ‘leadership and missional imagination’. I resonated with a lot of what he said, and in lots of ways I don’t think I heard anything new (that’s not a negative, just a symptom of the circles I keep and the conversations we have I guess) but I was still challenged.

Bishop Graham said something like ‘leadership is about cultivating an environment that innovates and releases the missional imagination present in a community of God’s people’. So leadership which is about enabling, promoting and creating the right environment for people to surface vision rather than leadership which is about running the whole show, calling all the shots and making all the decisions!

That’s my aim in my style of leadership and one that I wish to encourage. It was good to be reminded of this and, I guess, challenged as it is really very easy to take up the reigns when others are reluctant. I think I have been reminded that I need to continue to hold back and allow others.

On the second day we heard from Dr Anders Bergquist on ‘Success in Mission’. I was concerned at the title of the talk, the language of which grated with me, but really it was more about ‘authenticity in mission.’ he drew on three characters, Pope Gregory, Francis of Assisi and Charles Simeon but it was Francis I was particularly struck by. A person that had no real plan, who didn’t know where he was going with no organisational skills to speak of, but a man who had a contagious joy for Christ. People found Christ because of his joy, rather than his plan or organisation.

In particular a gift that Francis of Assisi and the other exapmples had was that they had a great gift of discernment knowing what or who to bless and when to bless it or them. A gift of missional leadership, argued Anders, was to be able to decide what to bless and what not to bless, or to put it another way, to be able to distinguish between good ideas and God’s ideas.

That challenged me and gave me an answer I have been looking for for a while I guess. When people ask what can they be praying for me I have so many things that could roll of the tongue that it would not be helpful. Being present in Anders’ talk has caused me to think that the thing at the top of my list should be to ask for the discernment to know what to bless and what not to.

That all sounds great on paper … now the hard bit comes as I try to put this into practice.

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