Mantras for the Leadership
A Service of the Parish Evaluation Project
January, 2008Mantras for the Leadership: Whether pastor, staff, pastoral council or commission member, these are five ways of acting that will bring success and joy to ministry. These provide balance amid the stress and pressures of parish life. 1. Listening Is an Active Love: A book with this title came out of the StoryCorps Project of ordinary people telling extraordinary stories about their lives. This attitude is essential for all parish leaders and ministers. It includes not only asking for insight and feedback, it also requires giving full attention to what people are saying. This will keep the leaders grounded in reality and not just the perception of what they think is going on. Listening to one another is also a key component of good leading, hearing with new ears the reactions, concerns and insights of those with whom they interact, plan and minister. 2. Make the Other Person Look Good : In working with parishes, we stress the need for partnership on all levels, whether it is someone working with the pastor, staff members pairing up with one another or others with whom they work, or the pastoral council and commissions being led by co-chairs. Participants take notice when the leaders make the other person look good by bringing out one’s gifts and talents. As two people lead a project or program, there might be occasional put-downs or sarcastic remarks, but what people remember are the supportive remarks, those efforts at being sensitive and encouraging to the other person’s style and gifts for leading. 3. Speak Truth – Kindly, Clearly, Consistently: People are reluctant to be straight and honest with others, afraid to hurt their feelings or worried about the reaction it will cause. But sometimes the greatest gift one leader can give to another is to say it “as it is.” That does not mean slaughtering the person in the process. Three guidelines should be considered in speaking truth to someone else: Is it true? Is it necessary to say? Is it spoken with kindness and sensitivity? It is a great gift to any pastor, staff or leadership group to have those who are willing to speak the truth when necessary, doing so in a way people can hear and accept as benefiting their way of acting and leading. 4. If You Believe It You Will See It: This saying comes from DeWitt Jones’ video “Celebrate What’s Right in the World.” The Gospels are full of such faith as people are healed by Jesus. They believed and so it happened. There is much to be discouraged about in parish life these days. But for those who believe good things will happening, they are rewarded with miracles on a regular basis. “Who will lead this group?” Just then the right person steps forward. “Who will pay for this project?” A donation appears out of nowhere. “Will anyone show up for this event?” Extra chairs have to be added as people pour in. If you believe it, it will happen! 5. What To Do Better Next Time: This is a given for the end of any meeting, project, liturgy or program. Too often people give a sigh of relief when the event is concluded without taking time to look at what happened and how to make it better next time. This is what will keep people coming back, a regular practice of evaluation and assessment.