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Archive for July, 2009

While reading a great book Spirituality and Society: Postmodern Visions, edited by David Ray Griffin, Jr., Griffin notes that “One destructive feature of the modern paradigm was that it made coercive power the basis of all change.” (144).  Even knowing the limitations of coercive power from our own lives (perhaps we can count on one hand how often we were able to make someone do something in a way that empowered them and their future actions – or perhaps we cannot count even one time), we still come with residue to our situations of church leadership.  WE come knowing that relationships are primary and to be honored but we are equally if not more so attached to our best guesses about what the organizational solutions are for our churches.   The dilemma comes when we succomb to the temtpation that we must pick between our relationships with congregational members or our best guess about how to move the church forward.  THis is coercive power poised to encroach upon our methods of leadership.  I think the key is in first recognizing that our egos should not become too attached to our “best guesses” and that there is an essential creativity (Griffin, 149) waiting to be freed as humans interact over situations with different mindsets.   Few would argue for coercive power leadership language is still full of its essence.

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I am considering organizational resistance and church leader’s response to it.  It seems that too often as congregational leaders, we resist those in our congregation who are resisting our “best guess” initiatives for change.  There may be an alternative.  Rather than resisting resisters, could leadership not discipline itself spiritually to attend to and learn from these people who resist and why.  This kind of spiritual discipline would require a stripping of the ego and diminished anxiety about accomplishing the “best guess” change strategy at all cost.  Particularly promising may be Process Theology’s understanding of consequent aims and Martin Buber’s I-Thou (between) philosophy.

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