Soon we will have our Annual Meeting to celebrate where we've been and look to where God is leading us. St. Paul's is a vibrant community these days, and it is because of leadership and those willing to follow their lead.
I'm thankful for our staff, each of whom in their area of responsibility take leadership to create the environment for spiritual transformation. I feel so blessed as a pastor to be in the staff team with whom I work. They are all making a wonderful difference for the sake of Christ!
I also am blessed to be working with so many members who exercise leadership. I believe my job as a priest is to enable people to discern what God is calling them to do and to encourage them in that call. It's fun to see it happen. It happens authentically when people pay attention to the voice of God within moving them into an area of action toward which they are inclined and for which God has given them some gifts which they feel called to develop.
Holy Baptism calls each of us to ministry, using our gifts and talents to promote the understanding of Christ's calling in our lives and to work it out in daily life, in church, at work, at play, at home.
At Annual Meeting we will elect leaders to serve us on vestry, which is the group that looks after the temporal needs of the congregation so that the congregation may pursue the mission of Christ. Vestry members serve by both leading and managing, and I want to emphasize here the leadership part of their responsibility.
Donald V. Romanik* encourages us to recognize and empower what he calls transformational leaders. He continues:
"Transformational leadership involves a series of attributes, skills and practices by an individual that help move an organization from its current state of being to a place where it is more focused, mission-based, and service-oriented."
Transformational leaders are characterized by:
- The ability to articulate, inspire and build support for a shared vision.
- The ability to enable and empower "followers" to act by encouraging collaboration and supporting their efforts.
- The ability to set an example and model the way.
- The ability to recognize the contributions of others and celebrate their achievements.
The Episcopal Church is in numerical decline, while at the same time the beauty and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not diminished one iota. The beauty and power of the Gospel of Christ is there for all of us to receive into our hearts and our lives, and as we receive it, it holds the power of forgiveness, the power of liberation from our shame, and the power to make us - as the prologue to the Gospel According to John promises - children of God.
As we select vestry members, I encourage us all to take a good look at these characteristics of transformational leadership described above and seek to call forth those characteristics in one another.
*Beyond the Baptismal Covenant: Transformational Lay Leadership for the Episcopal Church in the 21st Century. (Episcopal Church Foundation, 2010).