Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
Here are five things worth paying attention to this week. These are designed to expose you to a perspective you may not normally come across in your daily lives.
I’m in the midst of a Christian Leadership course at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana, and have been spending quite a bit of time devoted to questions of leadership and what it means to be a leader. One of my learnings surrounds the idea that we all have the opportunity and capacity to lead. Whether it is in positions of pastoral leadership, leadership in the home or leadership in the workplace, God provides what is needed and sustains us. Here are some ideas to explore leadership.
1. Read a book on leadership. One text that has great information for leading in new and effective ways is Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger. Admittedly, his treatment of the Lewis and Clark expedition leaves a bit to be desired in relation to Native Peoples and conquest, but his overall message is one of hope and of gaining tools to lead effectively.
2. Share a children’s story about strong leaders. There are many great retellings of biblical leaders like Moses, Paul and others and also good titles of leaders who lead for change like Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison, That’s Not Fair! Emma Tenayca’s Struggle for Justice by Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca (a bilingual text), and Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee.
3. The Kansas Leadership Center is an organization that helps equip individuals with the skills necessary to lead organizations and communities into the future. They focus on church-based organizations as well as schools and governmental bodies. At least two area conferences of Mennonite Church USA have a relationship with the Kansas Leadership Center and encourage pastors and other conference leaders to attend training there. Explore similar organizations in your part of the country.
4. Explore leaders in the Bible. This week we’ve explored leaders (expected and unexpected). Explore their stories in the Bible and ask yourself who they were as individuals, how they led and what their purpose was. Moses, Mary Magdalene, Joshua, Esther, Gideon and Rahab are just a few leaders we explored. Who would you add to the list?
5. Get to know our leaders and catch their vision. One of the gifts in our course has been interviews with some of the Mennonite Church USA leaders. I am excited and hopeful about the future of MC USA after hearing their passion and vision for the future of our denomination, and the ways we can help realize God’s healing shalom in the world. Get to know who our leaders are, pray for them and learn from them.
Jennie Wintermote is a native Kansan, an interim pastor, a graduate student and director of the Western District Conference Resource Library. She loves reading, scrapbooking and trying to figure out what it means to live out her faith every day. She also tries to remember to blog at prairieroseramblings.weebly.com.
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