The function of leaders is to produce more leaders, not more followers. -Ralph Nader
For many of us summer is a time when we change our usual routines. We travel more, spend time with friends and family, decide at the last minute on a trip to the beach. Maybe we decide that painting the deck or trying out the new lounge chair is a better use of our time than going to church. None of this means we have left our spiritual nature behind. We have undoubtedly found meaning and fulfilment in these activities. But summer is drawing to a close and it is time to think about establishing fall routines. Maybe we plan on picking up where we left off in June or perhaps we are thinking about changing things up a little.
I have been thinking this summer about spiritual leadership. What makes a leader “spiritual”? What does a spiritual leader do or say that qualifies them for that label? I have to report that the result of my thinking has left me with no answers, only questions.
Is the family who makes a consistent, conscientious effort to reduce food waste showing spiritual leadership or simply being environmentally and fiscally responsible? Is the person who responds to someone having a bad day a spiritual leader or simply being a good friend? Or maybe it’s the person who reached out for help and models that we don’t need to be alone in the tough hours that is a spiritual leader? Is the camp counsellor who looked after our children with humour, patience and firmness in teaching them new skills a spiritual leader or just another kid doing their summer job? Is the person who writes about industries that have deleterious effects on the environment a spiritual leader or just someone trying to earn a living?
I think of Jeremy and Rebecca, who spoke at the Halifax Central Library during Pride Week about Indigenous Exceptionality and living from a default position of love and kindness, as spiritual leaders. I doubt they would describe themselves that way. And there are probably others who would vehemently disagree with my opinion of them.
As we move into September the pace of activities at the church will increase. In some cases we will be picking up where we left off in June and in other cases we will be changing things up a little. But in all cases, we will be looking for leadership – from within our walls and from without. The driving forces behind these activities cannot be restricted to those whose job description includes the words “spiritual leadership”. It is time for all of us to think and talk about what we do, why we do it and how we do it. The answers to the spiritual leadership question may lie within those conversations.