Myth #2: Leaders Shape the Community
Truth: Leadership is shaped by community.
This quote by Leonard Sweet (ht to Len) applies to the myth that the leader holds the vision for the community:
“Leadership as “vision” has become another way about exercising dominance and pushing other people around your ideas…Vision has become a way of declaring dominance, of achieving alpha status and stats.”
Many people seem ready to debunk the myth that a single person is responsible for the vision of a church, and the purpose of the community is to serve that individual’s vision. Others are beginning to explore the idea of leadership that is shaped organically among a community of believers.
In reading Exiles, it would seem that within communitas, the vision evolves based upon the shared values and visions of those who make up the community. I believe it is the synergy of the shared vision that actually inspires and creates an environment to draw forth the leadership giftings in the people involved.
Leadership in a community should evolve from the giftings that are present in the community. With this kind of leadership, different people lead in the areas in which their giftings indicate leadership.
There should be a mutual submission to and recognition of the giftings within one another. If we are truly living the reality of preferring one another, then we will be most attentive to acknowledging the gifts and wisdom of others rather than promoting our own. And yet, in that mutuality, our gifts will be drawn upon also.
This quote by Dwight Friesen describes very well the idea of leadership that is developed in community:
Who is a leader? Leaders are people who tacitly know themselves in relation with others; who live present to those relationships, emptying ‘self’ for the fulfillment of the ‘other.’ Leaders do not exist in an ontological sense.
Leadership is summoned by a communal-ethos to serve a socially determined set of functions which the community itself determines and invites a person to fulfill.
The person responding to the specific ethos invitation to serve a momentary leadership function is both shaping and shaped by the vision that the community is calling forth.
This doesn’t fit our existing structures and paradigms very easily. Yet if we first change our concepts of what leadership is, we are better equipped to then address the structural and practical issues.