Fun Times In Logos
Wend the darling, was up from Hamilton today, visiting the Carey open day. Tonight, after a wedding rehearsal (luke & katie), youth group mayhem (playdough pictionary) and flat cellphone battery disaster of pic proportions; I met the lovely Wend and spunky Dan at Logos in Ponsonby. I felt very special because Dan showed me his cool capoeira moves and all. Lots of crazy stories to tell but they will wait for tomorrow, because I am sooo tired.
More details to follow.
She’s Back In The Game
I read my own autobiography today in class before I decided to let a classmate read it. I felt encouraged and inspired reading my own words. Today in the car on the way to class, I adopted & adapted Nouwen’s technique from The Inner Voice Of Love and started to talk to myself in imperatives, both describing the context and content of my heart and mind, and talking myself into where to from here. Seemed like an interesting exercise, especially when I was talking to my Dictaphone and then played it back to myself.
I have made some discoveries in the past week. By sinking into the depths of Nouwen’s experiences, things started to unpack and unfold. I started to see patterns of feeling, thinking, breathing and relational living in my own life that were disturbing. To the point where I felt like I had apologies to make. And then in class yesterday, we were talking about grief. The stages of grief, the look of grief, the management of grief. And to my horror and my relief, I recognized myself in between the lines of my class notes. I realized that everything that has been wrong with me for the past couple of years stems out of the fact that I’ve been in a grieving process without even realizing it. Well, I realized it. I knew that I was dealing with emotional baggage from events of years past, but I didn’t associate what I was experiencing with grief. However, put into the context of Grief, being exactly what I’m unpacking and going through.. creates some incredible freedom and relief with a deep sense of revelation. Understanding.. that the catalyst for the grieving process to begin was exactly that.. a catalyst, not the actual offence.
So… have a read of two things.. my autobiography of leadership .. or God at work in my life, and then tomorrow I’ll post the transcript of how I spoke to myself and ministered the Grace of God today.
Hmm. I’ll read it too, and then we’ll see how it’s looking on the other side.
The most powerful experiences of leadership in my life, where I have had the role of primary leader, have been in my current role at Windsor Park Baptist Church as leader of one of the high school home groups, leader of a creative ministry team and my ongoing leadership of the Programming Team at Eastercamp. I have been leading at Windsor Park Baptist Church since 2003, and involved with Eastercamp since 1999. Over time, both roles have developed and changed according to needs, employment circumstances and skill development. My role at Windsor Park Baptist Church is a training role, where I operate under supervision of a senior youth pastor, running a weekly programme for young people, managing a young adult music and production team and running some of the community events. My involvement in Eastercamp includes being part of the Eastercamp Vision Team, as well as taking responsibility for a number of administrative tasks outside the immediate area of Programming. The programming role requires working closely under the Camp Director, crafting theme, vision and purpose for the camp communication meetings, then leading the production team backstage through the execution of the programme.
My significant leadership experiences in all the above mentioned roles have significance in different ways. In my leadership role within the Pulse youth home group, the significant learning experience has been change management, transitions between preceding leadership and my own, casting and maintaining, as well as shaping and understanding the vision for the work God is doing amongst those young people. The transition was painful and slow, but gave certainty and expression to my own leadership style as I was pressed and challenged to take on the vision of someone else.
Leadership within a young adult team of creative people is an altogether different experience, but certainly significant. I came into this role with far more inherent confidence in what I am capable of, and how I could contribute to the sum of the whole. There was a suitable period of observation and then discussion, until trust was built and there was opportunity to catalyze change forward. The opportunity to create and dialogue strategy with peers has played a formative part in my development of leadership understanding as and how I relate to peers and communicate concepts and ideas.
Eastercamp 2004 was a pivotal year in the expression, understanding and development of my leadership role there. I stepped above and outside boundaries lines to take a leadership role that has developed into a somewhat priestly gesture towards my production team. Struck by the thought that some of my best spiritual leadership or any kind of leadership happens behind the backstage curtain, without being seen by those above me or beside me, has only spurred me on to take greater risks, explore deeper levels and set higher goals. Consequently, the development of relationship, team, and backstage practices has only increased. Partly I was personally challenged to “show off more” by a guest speaker at the camp, and further on from that I became aware of how easily one’s ability can be boxed in, and efforts must be made to constantly stretch myself out, as well as striving towards higher career goals. As a result of all three experiences, I now take every opportunity to lead very seriously, but in what I might offer and what I might learn.
Those who work alongside me would probably describe my leadership as highly relational, highly observational and intense. Certainly I receive high levels of thanks and gratitude from the Eastercamp production team, ultimately they appreciate the holistic sense with which I operate, the concern I demonstrate for their wellbeing, and the way I focus on the wider strategy or plan even in the light of perceived failure or challenges. I require of myself that I open doors, create opportunities and make space for younger and developing leadership, ability and talent and because of that, young people under my leadership especially feel empowered and like valid participants in the life of our church. I think that they also find me hard to work with in that I maintain a fairly fluid approach to leadership; I like to be flexible and ultimately believe that good form allows for moveable function. As a leader, the things that I am passionately connected to remain close to my heart and I have to work hard to maintain objectivity that makes me approachable.
If there was one biblical model or passage that is most influential in the way I consider my leadership, it’s a nearly impossible distinction. The justice themes of Isaiah 58, the restorative methodology of Nehemiah, the highly relational and engaged leadership of Jesus and the priestly nuances of David as both King and lead worshipper all influence me in different ways as I am learning my own leadership. I am still young and therefore, I am still learning and comprehending information that is providing critical formation to leadership understanding and practice; I am also still learning to recognize that which is genetic inheritance from parental talents and influence, environmental influence and those elements of leadership that have come from my own reflections through the years. Mostly the biblical model I follow is Peter, post-Restoration. Peter is constantly pushing deeper towards God in spite of his hindrances, failures and foot-in-mouth disease. Despite being rough and ready, he takes a primary leadership role that only matures and grows throughout the New Testament accounts. I hold tight to the restorative examples of God at work in my own life.
The need for a positive manner of dealing with failure is crucial to my journey as a leader. I count myself now, an ‘experimentuer’. A combination of entrepreneur and experimenter in one role. Inevitably I have seen a large number of ideas across my ministry platforms rise to small successes, large successes and large failures. Despite that some failures may appear small, all failures feel large. There are plenty of examples that I could choose to demonstrate the necessity of developing good practical theology around failure and then being able to lead yourself and others through it. One poignant example was leaving my first adult church experience after 5 years of learning how not to do church. I left downhearted and downtrodden about my ideas, my faith, my understanding of God. However, I left convinced that Truth was still out there but that I was far away from it, not being able to stick out the storm, but rather bolting for the high ground.
Other extraordinary experiences that have largely affected my leadership have been positive; mainly in the area of encouragement and mentorship. The first time that I was given opportunity to lead worship and being coached through that by someone who made themselves wholeheartedly available taught me the importance of belief and encouragement; opportunities to work within the Eastercamp team represented a number of doors opened from the inside out, with smiling and encouraging hands leading me through to experiences that would shape, stretch and pull me. They provoked reactions of loyalty, intensity, commitment and fire within me. I learned the power of empowerment and encouragement; and added it to my arsenal of leadership tools. Looking back, I was not aware of the precise work going on under the surface, but with hindsight see how formative these years were in my life.
Significant character development comes from significant experiences, not as the only option for growth, but as an important component of it. My life has been shaped by intense emotions and experiences of disorientation and reorientation. As a small child the divorce of my parents stripped away the understanding that I had of authority within church structures, as well as the role of elders. Learning from these experiences comes in the form of long discussions with parents, pastors and ultimately God; in the hope of understanding some of the ways it continues to affect me today. Ultimately though, healing comes only in a combination of time and the involvement of the Holy Spirit. Recently, the experience of choosing other priorities over the fulfillment or pursuit of deeper love with a close friend led to long dark nights of the soul, as I wrestled with the value system I have chosen, as well as my ultimate purpose here in this space and place. Henri Nouwen writes of the wound of love that goes deep, so love comes from a continually deeper place. A greater sense of what I have tends to dominate the landscape, rather than the darkness that might point out what I have not. In going through a grieving process that enables you to ask deep, probing questions of meaning and value, I am more certain of the ‘call’ than ever, and more certain of my need for God’s grace.
I have been led by wonderful capable leaders who have empowered, encouraged, taught, focused, driven and cared for me. They have inspired me with the idea of what team, family, community can look like. But I have also been highly discouraged, and in some aspects driven towards taking on leadership roles from a sense of what I could achieve given the same opportunities. Poor leaders that have inevitably been focused on goals that didn’t reflect the heartbeat of the community. They have stifled the learning and challenging process. They are excellent teachers of what not to do. Most recently, it is with despair that I look up in the mirror to realize that my ability to critique and reinvent most possibilities, means I always have a list of what I can change and improve about life, music, playstation, structure and work load. As with anything, we work towards the purposes of God as best we can, with the very best of intentions. It is my intention to always observe leadership above me, beside me and below me to see what there is to be learned, what there is to offer and what there is to improve on. That’s the result of observation on my leadership.
Primary development issues for my leadership growth are complex. I must continue to address the key areas of leading up and sideways, without appearing arrogant or overly ambitious. I have big ideas, but I seek to serve God’s purposes honestly, according to what He is doing. Communication, trust building and history making are all crucial here. My current climate demands longevity and consistency, and these are traits that I must develop both in myself and in those above, below and around me.
There is a leadership challenge in remaining supple of mind and practice. I desire to pursue learning as a habit and a discipline, rather than the last and least deserving of my attention. To put education above other practical ministry needs is a hard challenge that must be met in order for me to progress to the level I desire with my studies. It requires the deepest commitment to personal discipline and motivation than I apply in any other area. Being able to demonstrate this kind of discipline, personal management and consistency is a vital part of being ready for what I believe God has in store.
Another ongoing leadership challenge is the careful balance of pressures. I have a ministry I do by way of call, one that I complete because of love and service, and another that I am involved with because of training. Discerning the will of God and continuing the spiritual practices that are an engrained habit are key and crucial now, as I begin to prepare for whatever lies ahead.
My desire and ambition for my leadership is simple. At the end of my life I would like to think that I will be as aware then as I am now, of how much I still have to learn. I intend to have seen dozens, if not hundreds of thousands of young people and leaders find a voice and thereby take on the challenge of leadership and Christ-like character themselves. I would like for my eulogy to mention that other people found empowerment, encouragement and care through my ministry. Ultimately nothing would be for my own gain, except to boast of what God has demonstrated through my life; his abundant grace and mission for the world lived out. I desire deeply to be a person of influence who is able to lead people wisely and live an honest Christ-like life. Those that I lead will surpass me, and they will be well-trained to let others surpass them. We all will grow together, for the sake of the Kingdom.