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July 25, 2005


susie albert miller


thanks for continuing this train of thought... i like your phrase "The leadership is in the moment-by-moment relating not in any individual." It sums up the benefit of being present to another person in any given moment, and thus allows the relationship and the moment to guide the leading, if leading is indeed needed and merited.

i think that we may have come to fear the term "leadership, and/or leader" because so often has been a term of dominance, rather than seen and lived out according to the I/Thou relationship espoused by Martin Buber. In this posture it is possible to have a fluidity of leader and follower as needed.

I do believe that at times these roles are necessary... use the term guider, and guidee if that is more palatable, but it is in essence the same, one who is more experienced, who has something to impart for the benefit, the blessing the edification of the other, and potentially the kingdom and another who chooses to yeild and submit and learn. This is not a frightening or oppressive leadership, but a place for a fluid exchange that honors the difference in others and the unique gifts, talents and stories each brings to the table.

Leadership does not need to be a hierarchical structure, but one of learning and journeying alongside, with different people on the point at different times. I remember watching a flock of geese fly, and as they did, in the traditional "V" formation, there was certainly a "lead" goose, but that postion was filled by a number of different geese as they made thier way across the bay... each one in turn yeilding to another and taking the lead as needed.

Also, I think we as a culture have placed undue value and importance on the "leaders" of the world and missed the treasure of "followers, disciples and students of the Rabbi."

Jesus did lead, thus what can we learn from the way He led, and the manner and posture of his leading? This is a bit of my thinking on my use of the terms, "leader" and follower" but always viewed through the I/Thou lens of honoring the other.

Ruth S

Ahh, I'm glad I've had that link to the American site Caroline. I understand a lot more now what you're saying. I did improvisation at college and love that 'here's a tin of baked beans that I'm throwing at you are you going to catch it? type stuff'. And yes, I can see that that is the form of relating that works with one another, in a being, present state however...

There are numerous people out there who don't want to get off their back sides and do a damned thing. Sometimes I'm included in that. Sometimes, people with vision and energy inspire others to do something they wouldn't do. I would suggest, that at that time they are in fact 'leading'. And I would also like to remember some famous biblical leaders - Abraham led his family out of Ur; David led a band of warriors; Moses led the people out of Egypt. The people, to be frank, were a bunch of whiners, You get my gist.

Churchill led the U.K. through war, and whilst he wasn't a good peace time P.M. he was very definitely the 'man for the war hour'.

Leading, by implication, means to out in front, going somewhere, and having others follow. In church life I can see that 'who' leads may change with regarding to the task or situation. I think there are definitely people who have vision and want to take people into 'the promises'. But those with out an 'empire' mentality are few and far between and so the 'your best at my expense' becomes distorted. Perhaps this is where the 'machine' starts, instead of being the body, when we start trying to move things along with our agendas.

Not sure if I'm making sense as I am kind of replying to another post about leadership which is influencing my response to this as well. Hmmm, well, I better go and do what I got up early to do.....


A few points that Susie and Ruth have made interest me

1) there is a chicken and egg situation with leadership I think, for much commons sense and academic thinking about leadership gives space for the kind of dominance relations you wrote about Susie. change our talk about leadership and maybe we'll change leadership? Perhaps a difference that will make a difference?

2) I agree, ruth, that in particular moments someone takes a lead. that's fine. What I fear is when the assumption grows that that person is always the leader. an emphasis on relating in the moment might give us the chance to distribute leadership, with perhaps different people 'leading' in different contexts?

3) and again I'm not against leadership, yes sometimes different people will say and do things that let us see things differently or inspire us. But what I want to avoid is the idea that these actions complete and define what we can do, rather I long to see relations where such conversational contributions contribute to our onward journey.

Jason Clark

Caroline you wrote : The leadership is in the moment-by-moment relating not in any individual.

Just breath taking, and utterly incarnational. Thank you. Jason.

Jason Clark

coming back after some reflection...

If leadership resides in the momemnt by moment relationships, are they static, in balance, equal, or is there the issue of potential.

By that I mean one person is present in the relationship in such a way as to catalyse, enable something?

Can we be intentionally present with people, to bring our prescence to others, and by doing so create moments of leadership.

If Jesus was present through Kenosis, emptying himself, to be present, and he leads us (still using the language of agent here), enabling us to be kenotic, and move to plerosis, filling, potential, growth, change?

Leadership is enabling those moments, or be open to them.

I know that can look back at siginificant moments of relational input, whether in person, or listening to someone, or reading, and being enabled, catalysed...led.

For instance your writing is leading me... :-)




In your first sentence, notice how you first look for essentialist qualities of moment-by-moment relations. I don't think this helps.

then you go on to talk about 'potential' and I find this much more helpful. I write about our contributions to such moments being 'provocative' that is calling out of the relating new (or re-created) activity.

Now that, as you go on to point out is potentially exciting, for it offers to us ALL the chance to contribute to the ongoing creation of our community. It denies any one person the chance to be the leader (in every moment-by-moment activity) but encourages us to share and distribute the leading of our conversations in such a way as to render audible the silenced alternative that might offer us different, unchartered maybes.

I just find that potential exhilerating and I experience it nearly every year as students 'teach'me and make new actions possible for us all.

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