When Leaders Listen
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.