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How can we lead in a world that distrusts leaders?

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Ever have an idea in your head and come to realize your picture isn’t other people’s picture?

Well, for years I have been sitting with a new paradigm of the church – an arrow coming down and going out (much like an arm). When you sit with an idea for years, you know the pitfalls, and you work out the kinks…but other people can’t see the picture in your head.

One of the problems with the arrow model is very simple – we use models to tell us what we are supposed to do. In the upside down pyramid, we told ourselves our job was to support the people in our congregations, while giving them purpose and focus. In the arrow, things are not as focused, so this paradigm needs some conversation.

How does a leader operate in the arrow model? How does a leader help people become who God created them to be, become missional, and increase in devotion when the model doesn’t say “follow me!”?

First, there is the role of pointing people to God. Worship pastors seem particularly gifted in helping us move our worship from Sunday morning to every day. They teach us how to apply song and scripture to steer our brains from the normal, destructive patterns to letting God in our process and focusing on His perspective. A good worship pastor doesn’t just teach new songs – they teach relationship with God – worship is applied theology.

Next, we need authentic pastors. I just read in an article yesterday that most sermons give illustrations for the life of the body, or society in general – I wanted to add ‘how to drive on the freeway’. I went through a time period where every time a pastor wanted to be authentic, he (it was always men at that point) would confess bad road behavior. I really wondered if these men never got mad at their kids, never had a fight with their wife, never thought of throwing something at their annoying neighbor (okay, maybe not so violent, but there are days…). Helping people apply holiness in a world that is fallen can’t be simplistic or general – it needs to deal with our real failings as people – not blab it out time, but we can be authentic without vomiting reality.

Okay – enough for one morning. I want to continue thinking through the implications of a changed model – what does it mean for our ever-smaller circles model? What does it mean for discipleship? What does it mean for outreach?

I don’t approach this lightly. Our society, and the expectations of people in general has changed. The model we have worked with was a modern model. It was orderly, structured, and reminds you a bit of good accounting. The people I know find that approach to be coercive and manipulative. How can we lead in a world that distrusts leaders? This is why I am exploring this different model – I hope you will join the conversation.

7 Comments

  1. Loving this conversation on leadership and will attempt here to be less verbose than I was in your next post. 😉 Even before I had finished reading what struck me about the model was where would I draw in the leaders on this arrow? My answer, the back of the arrow – more like a herder or driver, as in livestock. Then you mentioned in a response the idea of a shepherd, the Jesus model. The shepherd is always behind or beside his flock, never ahead of it. Really, how do you keep an eye an your sheep if your ahead of them. The end result of this though is the messiness of that position. You are going to end up stepping in some poo.

    I think another problem with traditional models is their linear nature, whether the pyramid is upside down or right side up it’s still linear. God, apparently, thinks in circles – the seasons, the cycle of water, the solar system, the universe. These are his models. I would argue that the best model would more resemble circles. Draw a circle, with the leader in the middle and then put in your arrow, towards another circle, with another leader, then an arrow, to a circle, to infinity. Now what would that model say? Maybe it would say that the leader is always equipping, then moving on to do it again. Or maybe it would say that the leader equips to drive his flock forward and out to build their own circles, to do it again. Maybe it would say both of these things with circles and arrows always radiating outward, like ripples on a pond. Mmmm? Also, doesn’t this circle model better represent current trends for tighter, smaller communities while still honoring the spirit of the Great Commission?

    • Kim

      02/03 at

      “You are going to end up stepping in some poo” LOL! I have a model that was taught to me involving circles – but it was used to show that some people are our tight group, some a bit further out, and still others further out. I have been in the process of fixing that so that it explains how each group is specifically designed to help the others.

  2. Jackie

    01/03 at

    Pastors need to do a bit more reaching out! People go through hard times and how come it feels that it is those times the Christian people are no where to be found? A phone call to see if there is anything they can help with? Or “haven’t seen you in church, is everything ok?” a friend was going through a difficult time and in a phone call to his pastor he was told that I only help those that come to me. Now that is sad! And they wonder why the church is dying? Get out of the church! You need to go out to the the helpless and hopeless not just feed your congregation and those that come to you!

    • Kim

      01/03 at

      Excellently put! I think this new model puts the “shepherd” back into pastoring.

  3. Marina

    01/03 at

    LOVE this conversation. I find the modern model comes off manipulative and inauthentic too. It even feels that way from my giving end sometimes. I think it isn’t messy enough. It pours thoughts from above instead of lending a shoulder from beside. Working beside is messy, to the religious it looks an aweful lot like condoning actions/lifestyle/behavior. If we do this type of ministry it brings criticism. And it does create some danger, the danger of being sucked into what you’re trying to release people from. Messy. Not sure I’m very good at either types of ministry, but I’d like to learn. Looking forward to more on this topic!!

    • Kim

      01/03 at

      Marina – messy is right. The question in my head is how to help people be messy and safe at the same time. – Not bad safe, but one of the dynamics of human interaction is that when we feel safe we are more likely to be authentic and generous.

  4. I finally drew a circle type diagram and sent it to you via e-mail. I think it eliminates the idea of closed group that you mentioned above. Think spirograph. Look forward to hearing from you on it.

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