Developing Christian principles for Leadership, Organising and Learning

Part 3: Organisation Development and divine wisdom…

I loved Jill Garrett’s comments in Part 1 of this blog. She wrote:

  1. “…leadership; different styles, language and methodologies will work better in some sectors than in others, but the lasting principles are those founded on divine wisdom.”
  2. “Perhaps we would do better to focus on Christian leadership in every sphere and then encourage people to think about the applications of Christian principles founded on divine wisdom, in their unique context.

The spiritual context of learning

Mike Higton, in the Grove Booklet Series, ‘Vulnerable Learning’ (2006) reminds us that for the Christian, learning is not merely “a call to accumulate ideas or skills”, but, as it was for the disciples, it is part of the process of remaking our identities. It is a spiritual process that involves dying to self, and becoming new creations in Christ.

My sense is that this metamorphosis involves applying “divine wisdom” found in scriptures. My dear friend John Martin came up with the following principles for leadership, ‘organising’ and learning just from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth:

  • It is founded on Christ (1 Cor 3:10-14)
  • It is calling us to be “servants of Christ and stewards of the mystery of God” (1 Cor 4:1)
  • It is rich in spiritual gifts (1 Cor 4:8)
  • It is relational and inter-dependent (1 Cor 12: 14-26).
  • There is an implied functional hierarchy but it is a leadership of love and service (2 Cor 10:13, 2 Cor 4:5)

Here are some of my suggestions on how these principles can be applied in the context of Organisation Development:

  • An appreciation of 1 Corinthians 12 recognises the interconnectedness and interdependence of the whole body of Christ and offers a context for developing coherence.
  • We need to value and celebrate diversity of gifts, talents and experiences. However, it is also important to remember that individual perspectives, while important, are partial, as illustrated by this story:

Nasreddin sat on a river bank when someone shouted to him from the opposite side: “Hey! how do I get to the other side?”

“You are on the other side!” Nasreddin shouted back.

  • Given the diversity of human perspectives (dreams, visions, prophecies) a key leadership role is the ability to facilitate coherence through communal methods of sense and meaning making. Another way of putting this is that human systems are polyphonic, that is, multi-voiced. In this context, an important role of leadership is to actively listen, blend and align voices in order to achieve participation, cooperation and collaboration.
  • One way of recognising that people are made in the image of God, purposeful, creative and have talents and gifts is to use ‘strength-based’ approaches. These methods involve encouraging the use of gifts, talents, insights and coordinating these in a way that helps to achieve the organisation’s vision and objectives. By identifying what works well, we create heighten energy and vision for change.
  • Our ‘working’ environment/culture should be one where people can flourish. It should be life-giving and have physical, psychological and conversational spaces that foster a sense of belonging, and encourage relational (net)working and fellowship.

Finally, I have a few questions for you. Sadly no prizes for taking part – merely the satisfaction of knowing that someone might learn from your experience!

Describe a time when you really felt alive, engaged and proud of yourself and your performance.

What role did leadership play in this experience?

How did a leader or leadership practice unleash your capacities; and help you fulfil your calling?

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