A few days ago I walked out of a two-hour oral defense for one of our Doctor of Ministry students. His doctoral project, which he successfully “defended,” focused on the development of leaders. One of the unintended results of his intervention was the deep communal connections that took place when people are called together to work and learn. In fact, the student (who is an experienced and wise minister) noted how much development or growth occurred through the shared experience of participating in his project.
What might happen to leader groups when the persons who make up leader groups pay less attention to the stated agenda for a group and instead focus on listening well to each other or listening well to the people they seek to lead? Or what possibilities for congregational health might emerge when leaders seek first to understand each other before asserting their own point? We might well find ourselves participating in a group that calls for the best out of our own lives and the lives of others.
I recognize the need for good agendas and thoughtful itineraries that guide discussion and call for decision-making in a timely way. But we might be pleasantly surprised in our practices of leadership when we pay greater attention to relationships, attentive listening, and looking for signs of God’s presence. In so doing, we participate and receive God’s leadership as he works among us doing his best work—the work of transformation.
Dr. Carson Reed is Vice President for Church Relations at Abilene Christian University and Executive Director of the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry. He also serves as the Director for the Doctor of Ministry Program and holds the Frazer Endowed Chair for Church Enrichment in the Graduate School of Theology. Through the Siburt Institute, Carson does consulting work with congregations and church leaders across the country. His teaching and research centers on leadership, preaching, and issues surrounding faith and culture. Carson and his wife Vickie have been married for over 30 years and have four grown children.