At last Tuesday’s Session meeting, which was my first as moderator, I offered the group a brief introduction to my philosophy of spiritual leadership. Since we will be entering nominating season soon and God already knows whom will be called to be ordained and installed to leadership positions at St. James next year, I am sharing this overview with you in the event that you are one of the people whom God has in mind to serve St. James in the coming years.
First and foremost, I believe that God calls us to serve the church in ways that give and renew life (this belief, in fact, is one through which the Holy Spirit led me to St. James). Such service commonly appeals to our interests, makes the best use of our abilities and provides us with opportunities to grow. Serving in a leadership position at church should feel like a spiritual practice through which God fashions us into the individuals and body whom Christ calls us to be.
The best Session meetings, in my experience, are ones that are marked by laughter and love. When I moderate Session meetings, I assume that everybody whom God has gathered around the table wants what is best for the church, especially when one person’s feelings about what is best for the church differs from another person’s feelings.
To me, it is essential for Sessions to consistently focus on questions being asked and problems being solved (as opposed to becoming mired in negativity). To this end, I am fond of that to which I affectionately refer as my “three-sentence rule,” which asks individuals to limit their assessment of a problem to three sentences before they start outlining options or making a proposal.
In my experience, leadership teams function or dysfunction in proportion to their willingness and ability to authentically trust one another. Therefore, I think that it is in the church’s best interest that elders trust committee members and committee members trust elders.
My first impression of St. James’ Session is that the members of this leadership team like one another and are looking to the future with faith, hope and love. I am struck by the wide range of talent and life experience represented in this group. I am humbled to be called to serve as their moderator, and I pray that we will faithfully serve God and the good people in this congregation and community well.
In the beginning of this call as your pastor and their moderator, I promised the Session: 1) to search for synergy among the different perspectives and experiences represented on the Session and among the members of the congregation 2) to set our conversations as a church and as a Session into conversation with similar discussions that are taking place within the wider body of Christ 3) to be flexible, to take risks and to maintain a sense of humor about congregational life and my role in it and 4) to develop spiritually in ways that will equip me to glorify God, to infuse life into this congregation and to change and be changed according to God’s will along with you.
It should be fun, right?