Leadership Challenge 9/25/2008

I have been thinking a lot lately about the kind of leader I am becoming and the kind of leader I hope to be. Over the next several weeks (and as additional things surface over time) I will post particular challenges I am facing in this space and invite your input as a way to be challenged and stretched to grow.

Here is my challenge for the week:

I do not always answer the question I am being asked. I have a tendency to make things more complicated for myself by, instead, trying to answer what I perceive to be the question behind the question. For example: At the pastor's conference I attended this week there were several occasions where I was asked, "What style of worship will you have at Graceway?" This question bugs me anyway (that's another blog), but people want to know. The assumption that I often make, however, is that people (particularly other Lutheran pastors) are asking because they are passing judgement. The result, then, is often me stumbling through some kind of unintelligible description using every 10 cent word I can think of to make it sound like, despite the fact that we will not be using any of the liturgical settings or much of the music found in the Lutheran Hymnals that I am not somehow "dumbing-down" worship and that, yes, our worship will be "Lutheran." Truthfully, that may sometimes be the motivation behind the question, but then again maybe it isn't always. Maybe the way I answer has more to do with my need/desire to be accepted/respected by my colleagues and my peers. Would it not be better for me to ask the question that I have been asked and then if the "real" question is something else leave it up to the one asking to actually ask it?

Would love your thoughts, insight, stories, etc.

One thought on “Leadership Challenge 9/25/2008

  1. Sometimes the question regarding worship will be judgment on the part of asking pastor. The question is who do you belong to, Christ or the person asking the question. I am the mission developer of a prison congregation. I do not do confirmation; I am not against discipleship, I am just not sure required confirmation is the best way in every place. So this past Sunday when I was at a church preaching and talking up the prison congregation, a guy wearing a Word Alone button asked me if we had confirmation. I said no for the reasons I just said and also said I do more informal instruction in relational conversation. He was aghast and walked away. Now our prison congregation probably does a loosely constructed word and sacrament ordo. My Lutheran lens can see the gathering, the word, the meal, and the sending, but none of it comes from any hymnal found in any Lutheran church. Some visitors raise eyebrows, but it opens the question afterwards for what is actually worship, the “rights” or “rites.” I also always get asked about who is a member at the prison when guys come and go and I have “red register” book. I say a member is a participant.
    I find sometimes the struggle is not to be honest or not be honest, not avoid judgement or be damned for what I am, but how do I respond to somebody’s question, possibly showing their own fears, insecurities, and defensiveness, in a way that invites them to a meaningful conversation. The guy who asked about confirmation had some serious questions behind his questions; we never got to them, he walked. But at other times, especially about worship, I do get to have more meaningful and hopefully helpful conversations for everyone involved when we discuss how different the Living Stones in prison worship than my synod’s other churches.
    That’s my two cents for now. Good struggle. Stay focused on prayer.

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