Welcome to part 5 of 8 in “Confessions of An Anxious Leader or Chasing the Leadership Dragon.” In each of these posts I’m listing how systems thinking affects how I think about leadership. I now think about leadership as a matter of maturity.
What systems theory has taught me is that we grow and mature as we shift focus or emphasis in several categories of life. Some of these categories apply to individuals, some apply to congregations, some apply to both. I list these shifts or directions in no particular order. Today we look at item number four.
4) Maturity looks to accept appropriate responsibility rather than find someone to blame. This direction is closely related to operating out of principle, but I’ll come at it another way. A healthy congregation focuses more on developing its own health and its own immune system than it focuses on pathogens. Every healthy human body contains a system of naturally occurring flora and fauna. Included in this system in each human body are organisms that, if not contained properly, can kill us. What keeps everything in check is a healthy body’s immune system, knowing what is me, and what is not me, how to let in the good and keep out the bad. The common wisdom of physicians is that the best defense against illness is a positive response from the body. Even now we are learning that over-focusing on pathogens through the use of antibiotics does long-term damage to the natural balance of the body.
Now think about this principle in terms of a perceived threat to a congregation. A move toward maturity focuses on responding to threats, (shifting societal trends, poor behavior from members, changing neighborhoods) with a focus on mission, good boundaries, and strength rather than hoping that the threats will go away or calm themselves down. Rivalry can be creative and productive when an athlete works on elevating her or his own game rather than blaming the opponent or the officiating. A mature leader and a mature congregation know what is “me,” and what is not “me” and work to separate the two with a minimum of drama.
See Related Earlier Posts