By Terry Shue
I returned yesterday from another energizing meeting of the Values Based Leadership Program. This collaborative effort of leadership development in our denomination is one of the best expressions of developing leaders outside of our formal educational settings.
In this program leaders of all walks, pastors, CEO’s and staff in our church agencies come together to develop leadership practices and styles through an Anabaptist faith lens. Again working with participants and other leaders was a highlight for me. We are blessed with so many growing and excellent leaders in our church. I was particularly captivated as I experienced the teaching of this leadership development event while mindful of the challenges we are going through in the church. If you want to learn more about VBLP click here.
One of the important components of VBLP is learning to understand the different styles of leadership and then discovering through the DISC profile, the leadership style which is God’s gift to the individual. In the DISC there are four quadrants, which represent four different styles of leaders. All are important traits in leaders but almost always persons come out with a strong affinity to one of the four quadrants.
Let me explain briefly. The person who is a “D” is motivated by action and results. While a person who is an “I” is relational and full of enthusiasm. A person with the designation of “S” is steady and supportive. And finally a person identified as a “C” is conscientious and accurate. Obviously there are endless degrees and combinations of these traits, but allow this to serve as an introduction.
In the course of the training it was interesting to watch as participants learned what trait they had been identified with in the DISC profile and to learn the gifts and limitations of that trait in the important task of leadership. It was also interesting to notice the learning that came when they began to understand the other traits and give language to what they understood what was not their trait! Nervous laughter was one sign that this realization was being embraced at new and important levels.
The most amazing part of this development was demonstrated the last day to me by the participants when I saw a deeper level of understanding. Here the understanding was not only self-clarification and differentiation from other groups. The lights went on when the participants grasped the need for all of the multiple traits to be present on a team for any form of leadership to be fully functioning. In the end it was not a discussion about which quadrant of leadership was more important, but who can we look to in order for all of the vital components of leadership to be present on the team.
Those who truly got it, completely understood that the gift of God to them is not on the unique way they were gifted as a leader. But that God has gifted others with different gifts in order to complement each other’s gifts to completion. The quickest way to self-destruct as a leader and to sabotage any organization (including the church) is to think that all the gifts of leadership are found in one person.
As leaders we learned again at VBLP that we absolutely need each other to allow others’ gifts to compliment ours–for strengths to help weaknesses.
On my drive back to Ohio I pondered what I observed as I thought of the church and our current challenges. How many meetings have I been at recently where the differences present in the room were not seen as a way to strengthen the whole, but a polarity to oppose and defeat? How many times have I been in conversations with persons who consider the opinion and the person on the other side of the continuum as somehow getting it all wrong? Grace for the other is all too often seen as giving way to apostasy or apathy for both polarities. A slippery slope which is resisted emphatically.
What if we could look at the various opinions of the challenges of today, that elephant in the room, in a similar way the DISC profile does? What if we could find a way to embrace terms like holiness, justice, hospitality and costly discipleship not as polarities to oppose, but Godly concepts to embrace as needed for the whole church. I have friends on both sides of the issue of homosexuality today who will likely not see the validity of such a model.
But I also believe there are many in the church who find themselves where I do, not wanting to give up on any of the principles above and denigrate the “other” because of their emphases in one of the areas. My appeal today is not to those on the margin on either side of this deep chasm we are experiencing, whose anger and actions are threatening the church as we know it, but to the core of the church, to hold on to the breadth of the call of God for followers of Jesus today.
At Values Based Leadership Program this week I saw a glimpse of the Kingdom, as leaders with a variety of responsibilities within and outside of the church comprehended anew how their gifts were only complete when complimented with others’ giftedness.
My prayer for the church today is that we see in the other, not what we oppose but what we need to become complete as the Body of Christ here on earth.