I have done some reflection today on leadership. From the time I have been a young man – a teenager, I have been thrust into a role of leadership. In high school, at church by the age of 15 I was “leading” committees and groups. Sometimes that has meant the great privilege of being a part of moving committees, groups and organizations forward and being part of great change. Being venerated with a position of leadership is something that I never took lightly. I sought out leadership, and yet, it often made me nervous when I was entrusted with it. Along with the gratification that comes along with taking a group in any new direction, comes the fear of failure, the criticisms which are a given, and the need for affirmation which is never fully realized.
When a person becomes a leader she takes on the enormous basket of expectations that come along with it. Those expectations are varied and they are sometimes very large expectations. I have come to understand that those who lead and lead well are living a particular vocation. I have been fortunate over the past 25 years to witness both good and poor leadership. I witnessed those who in the act of leading bring light to the world and I have witnessed people in positions of leadership who have set organizations back into the age of darkness. Sadly much of this poor leadership, I have witnessed in the church. The church in our modern day is in need of good, strong, bold, risky, and inspired leadership. The church needs leaders who will look at the landscape of the church and envision a new architecture of community that reaches skyward to Commonwealth of Love and Justice. I have no illusions about the cost of this style of leadership. I understand the cost that comes along with craving a new direction. The safe road is always the one which does not much vision and requires little to no sacrifice. Acquiescence is always easier than sacrifice. Now it would be easy here for people to read in my words that I am offering a commentary on the ordained leadership of the church. Indeed, it would be wrong for me to suggest that I am not – however I really am referring to leadership in general. I earnestly believe that if the church is going to move successfully into the decades ahead of us we really have to have strong ordained and LAY leadership.
What endears people to the parish of St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is the same thing that keeps me so excited to be a part of being church here. We have a very strong group of committed people who understand the leadership vocation. John Kotter who makes his livelihood teaching leadership says that, “Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there.” In this parish I have been so impressed with the parish leadership and its ability to see the future of this parish community, to be intentional about how to get there. Our people indeed CAUSE change. Most of all it is fair to say that our leaders sacrifice to get to that place and as a result we see the willingness of the parish faithful to sacrifice along with them. St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is in good stead because of the leaders in this church. Many thanks to the leaders of the this church. I am thrilled to sacrifice with you to move this parish ahead.