Leadership Is Becoming You

This is the third of four weeks of the Reynolds Program in Church Leadership. We are suffering for the Lord in Pinehurst, NC. Today was the first session and it once again proved to be interesting. Today it the question was posed, “What does it mean for me to engage fully into leadership?”

Ever since we are born we are taught to suppress who we are and what we truly feel (most of us). We do so for the sake of being polite and respectful. One best example is the saying, “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say it at all.” To be a true leader we have to be willing to tell people what the need to hear over what they want to hear. Yet, that is not easy, especially for us clergy who are in feel we are in the business of pleasing people. In order to be able to accomplish this task we need to learn to show up. But as we grow up we tend to form a wall between who we are in the inside and who we show we are on the outside.

To completely show up takes four phases.

Phase 1: We come into the world undivided. There is no divide between our thoughts and our actions/communication when we are little. My 2 ½ year old tells me what is on his mind from the moment I see him and he reminds me of it until I recognize him and the issue he is pushing. “Spadayize, daddy. Spadayize, mommy.” We heard this for about five minutes until we were able to translate that he wanted to watch a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show where Daisy is a Spy (Spy Daisy). What he was thinking was what he communicated. Yet as he gets older he will learn to suppress those feelings and thoughts and process them through a filter. As a society we communicate to them (through formal and informal means), don’t feel what you feel and don’t say what you think. We are taught to keep some of the most important parts of ourselves behind the walls we build up, to protect ourselves and to protect others.

Our facilitator today told us that the number one thing that hurts the church is collusion. It is the times we say yes when we need to say no. It is the difference between church meetings and parking lot talk. We hide our true selves behind our walls during the meeting but our real selves are displayed in the smaller groups in the parking lot, there we step out in front of that wall.

Phase 2: We forget there is a self on the other side of the wall. We get confused or don’t realize that there is someone on the other side of the wall (either direction). When this happens one of those sides usually gets hurt. If you internalize and don’t poke your head up over the wall, you can get hurt internally. If you put yourselves out there too much you can get hurt the other direction too. Finally to move to phase three one realizes that they are tired of living in this type of hurt. Rosa Parks was tired of being told to move and she stood her ground. She finally realized that there was nothing worse they could do (calling cops for sitting in the front) her than she was doing to herself. When she moved back she was hurting her inner self.

Phase 3: you take your wall down and form a circle. You get centered and realize and name the inside and outside struggles. You recognize the fact that there are times when you are inside the circle and other times when you are not. This allows you to take steps inside and out and learn boundaries in leadership.

Phase 4: One turns their circle into a mobius strip. Now there is no outside or inside, only you. This is when we return to being the truest nature of ourselves we can be and being us. When we do that we are the most effective leader we can be. We are showing up on a regular basis and not sitting back. This takes intention and wisdom. It takes caution because when we are our true self people will be provoked and we have to be ready for the consequences.

I have learned that for me, I need to be comfortable with consequences or effects. Being me, as leader, means I need to be willing to step out and face the outcomes of my decisions and actions. Instead of holding back in order to secure a conflict-free area, I need to be willing to deal with the consequences and be willing to understand that it is simply who I am (and maybe the problem isn’t with me).

This question kept coming up in my reflections today, “I am who I am but am I who I can be?”

When do you stay behind the wall?
When do you show up?
What courage is required for you to show up more often?

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