22nd November 2015

Following a week of leadership meetings, Victor Pilmoor ponders on leadership styles and affirmation:

"I'm the King of the Castle, and you're the dirty rascal."

In the vestiges of my memory I recall a playground game that dates to Roman times and seems to have been played across the country, in which some tyke would run up to the top of a grass mound and shout that he was the 'King of the Castle' upon which he would be charged down by hordes of aspiring tyrants who repeat the proclamation and are unceremoniously dethroned with increasing aggression.

Pray for ParisEvents in Paris this month remind us that 'Rex erit qui recte faciet' is still being played, but thankfully the revulsion of our society acknowledges that most of us are learning better habits. Our hearts are pained by the suffering of those affected and our thoughts embrace those who now live in fear.

As in the playground, when the definition of who ascends to the mound is restricted to the few, the children simply play another game until that devalued game is no longer played. We have been talking about titular leadership for too long when it is people with courage, drive and energy are the ones who really make things happen. People pay attention to those with inspiring stories, perceptive depth and worthwhile ideas, and in an open just society are recognised for what they are worth.

TED women affirmation-roomHaving spent the last ten days reflecting on the nature of leadership within our faith community at the Trans-European Division Year End Meetings, it occurred to me that we may well be still playing a form of that ancient game, ignorant to the possibility that leadership is not about proclamation, position and post. Further, that those playing this game are oblivious to the majority who are engaged in a range of more peaceful enterprises based on subtle forms of initiation, engagement and recognition. For this reason our agreed statement affirming the role of women in Church leadership, concentrated on the accessibility, ubiquity and inclusiveness of leadership in the Adventist Church without ever mentioning the dreaded 'O' word.

After a dozen drafts that rotated around a steering group, first to identify the audience, the message, the tone and the strength of language, and then to establish the sources of authority. Would we compose something using a biblical proof text method? Would we build on prior policy statements? Would we depend on culture, celebrity statements on empowerment, or equality and justice?

Who would we antagonise? Would we allow those who are vocally aggressive, to set our agenda? In the end we settled on a Pastoral approach that recognised the spiritual variety and wealth of those we serve with intention to embrace and encourage generations to come, with the fragrance of who we are to become. Not to speak of "warning the freeloaders to get a move on." (1 Thessalonians 5:14 MSG)

An outcome of a parallel deliberation at the TED meetings was the appointment of people who will have never dreamed about climbing the totem pole, having devoted themselves to a specialist cause aligned with their giftedness. Indeed, Robert Greenleaf in defining modern servant leadership uses a narrative that establishes leadership on prior servanthood. He asks leaders the question: Do those you serve grow as persons, do they become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become Servants?

Thank you again for asking yourself these questions, in the service of those for whom you have responsibility. May the Good Lord continue to bring fragrance into your life, and to those you love.

TED affirms women in Leadership
Pray for Paris. Pray for France
TED Strategic plan designed to Connect, Inspire & Change

[Victor Pilmoor]

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