The “Work” of Leadership

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When I completed my seminary work and entered my first role as an ordained pastor, one of the things that became eminently clear were the limitations to the preparation I had received for ministry.  Hermeneutics, biblical studies, systematic theology and sermon preparation, were important skills that seminary had done an excellent job in preparing me.  However, it was the ‘work’ of leadership and my on-going spiritual formation that seemed to be at the forefront of what the church was demanding from me in my new found role as a pastor.

The church is, in many ways, a leadership intensive organization.  And it is that ‘work’ of leadership that my seminary education barely scratched the surface. And, I think it is a strange disparity when the seminary seems to shy away from equipping pastors for the work of leadership, and the local church seems to be demanding pastors who possess something more akin to an MBA, than an M-Div in order to lead them.  Because of that profound imbalance, both the seminary and the church need a corrective and a renewed vision of biblical leadership with the means of preparing God’s people for the work of ministry.

It could be argued, the VP3 processes of The Emerging Journey, The Equipping Experience, and The Enriching Conversation, are a corrective answer to the gap between the seminary and the obsession of the church with marketplace style leadership.  Why? Well, for one, Jesus reframes the leadership issue as one of ‘follower-ship.’  Participants in The Emerging Journey are encouraged to contemplate Jesus’ demand of his disciples in the upper room where leadership is profoundly reshaped as humble servanthood in Jesus’ kingdom way (Luke 22).  At the same time, The Equipping Experience allows everyone to sink into some of the important skills of leadership:  Direction, Team, Strategy, and Process, while allowing people to safely practice leadership through group and individual ministry projects.  The Enriching Conversation then moves beyond leading, to ask the question, ‘How can I finish ‘the race’ well?’ and, ‘What must I do to pay attention to the development of others?’  These 3 processes are intended to go hand-in-hand in providing a deepening and empowering approach to the work of leadership in a local church.

As you contemplate next steps with your church or group, I hope you will begin to see the intended progression of the VP3 processes as a helpful tool in your work as a pastor/servant-leader, and your work of equipping others in that work of servant-leadership in your ministry setting.

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4 thoughts on “The “Work” of Leadership

  1. Brian,

    I like what you have to say about the VantagePoint3 process serving as “gap-filler” for the pastoral training you received at seminary. I have no idea how seminary training prepares one to empower others, but I think perhaps that is a critical skill many pastors don’t fully understand. Perhaps it involves a paradigm shift–going from a top down kind of leadership to a more horizontal or even bottom-up style of leadership. We’ve learned in Emerging Journey that Jesus’ way of leadership is servant focused. Empowering others to fully use their gifts involves allowing others to do so. It’s been my experience that all too often our pastoral staff is too ready to scoop up that empowerment and put it right back in their own realm. If the Church is to go deeper and become the shining light on a hill, our pastors may have to better understand this important shift and allow servants to be servants.

    • Thanks Don.

      I think we pastors sometimes see good ministry done, and rather than celebrating it, we tend to feel as if we should have been doing it ourselves, or want to do it our own way. Ephesians 4 and the work of ‘preparing God’s people for works of service’ is not something we remember to keep as one of our primary roles.

  2. Amen! Brian, great job on explaining the significance of being well equipped for ministry. Third Church (www.trcpella.com) will once again be offering the three VP3 leadership development classes mentioned in the Fall of 2012. This is our 8th year of teaching the VantagePoint3 material and have two very successful church plants as a result and several non-profit organizations and internal church ministries birthed as well.

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