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The momentum for the present church fascination with a€?Leadershipa€™ dates back nearly 20 years. Throughout this long and very subtle piece of story telling I have been struck by parallels to our present context and at the risk of generalising I offer just a few to invite discussion. This corner of scripture well mined by writers and speakers on a€?Christian leadershipa€™ but the focus is to easily over-personalised and lifted from the complex hinterland that is its context.
The unfolding story of Samuel, Saul and David is told against the background of an uncertain nation, competing power groups, issues of Yahweh, faith and theology.
It did not start with a proposal from a strategic review group in the way that it might today. In fairly rapid succession the faces of a number of well-known leaders are projected onto the screen.
A community reveals its own face in the image its projects, for good or ill, onto those it asks to lead them. The task of developing leadership will never be effective unless it sits within the task of developing community. So we should not be surprised if the story struggles to find a theological outcome - which it does throughout.
And in any case wasna€™t Israel supposed to be a sign of a different way among the nations?
Leadership theorists have long noted how Western approaches to leadership are essentially a€?Heroica€™ in mode a€“ great men (and just occasionally women) who rise to the fore in times of crisis. But notice that by definition a€?Heroic Leadershipa€™ actually requires everyone else to be helpless.
Here the conviction is that leadership is not something imported from outside but is found within, and is an expression of, the whole community. These insights feature in the more reflective approaches to clergy leadership training around the country.
It is interesting to note that the only passage in the Torah to mention Kingship in Israel addresses the same concerns and teaches a very similar vision for community based leadership.
Brueggemann suggests that reading the Bible for insights into leadership and ministry involves a continual reflection on the complex and uneven relationship between power, providence and personality (2000) and he uses the Samuel narrative to illustrate this.
The Samuel narrative warns us that a€?Leadershipa€™ that pursued for pragmatic outcomes a€“ growth, results, significance - rather than rooted deeply in the utter priority of Yahweh and his ways, is dangerous.
Providence is a€?the hidden, patient, sovereign enactment of Goda€™s overriding purpose beyond the will and choice of human agentsa€™ (1990 p15). Personality and appearance is a recurrent distraction in the Samuel narratives when it comes to choosing leaders. Popular Christian approaches to leadership find a€?The Heroica€™ as hard to resist as the rest. We find ourselves drawn into a reflective narrative that invites us to circle around what we read, to come to the drama from different angles, to question the text itself - both what it implies or hints at and what it claims.
The style is contemplative rather than didactic, reflective rather than prescriptive, participative rather than directive. Robert Alter, The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel, W W Norton, 1999. Walter Brueggemann Power, Providence and Personality - Biblical insights into life and ministry, Westminster John Knox, 1990b. The momentum for the present church fascination with a€?Leadershipa€™ dates back nearly 20 years.A  It followed revolutions in leadership theory in the business world. The task of developing leadership will never be effective unless it sits within the task ofA  developing community. Leadership theorists have long noted how Western approaches to leadership are essentially a€?Heroica€™ in modeA  a€“ great men (and just occasionally women) who rise to the fore in times of crisis. Here the conviction is that leadership is not something imported from outside but is found within, and is an expression of, the whole community.A  So the language is of a€?shared leadershipa€™, a€?leadership in communitya€™, a€?servant leadershipa€™. These insights feature in the more reflective approaches to clergy leadership training around the country.A  But the widespread frustration expressed on these courses is that diocesan leadership styles have yet to embrace the same insights and all too often remain entrenched in more hierarchy and patronage. Walter Brueggemann Power, Providence and Personality -A  Biblical insights into life and ministry, Westminster John Knox, 1990b. Spring Lake Day Camp's outstanding Leadership Training Program is for boys and girls entering 10th grade as of September. Our combination work-camp-trip program enhances the camper's summer by exposing them to every aspect of camping life. We believe this program will cultivate leadership skills and enable LTP graduates to assume the responsibilities of a staff member the following summer.


Each LTP is evaluated throughout the summer by the program's supervisor and administrators. Tuition: Our innovative LTP program has a significantly reduced rate of the full (8 week) camper tuition.
In addition, campers receive compensation provided they successfully complete the entire 8 week Leadership Training Program. Tuition Includes: Camp shirt, snack, daily hot lunch, camp photos and door-to-door air-conditioned transportation to and from camp. Optional Adventure Travel Program: Some of our travel adventures have included Broadway theater, amusement and water parks, baseball games and over nights. The subject has moved so firmly to centre place of attention, budgets and programs it is hard to remember.
No serious diocese or Regional Training Partnership is without its own a€?Clergy Leadership Coursea€™. It usurped the place of Torah and undermined the vocation and freedom of Goda€™s people by the near irresistible drift towards the despotism. It is an idea is already embedded in and emerging out of the story and hopes of a community. Part of the cost of leadership is that it is lived out in the shadow of a peoplea€™s unmet needs, unexpressed anxieties, idealized hopes and ambitions. For a€?Kinga€™ read - a€?CEOsa€™, Appraisal Schemes, HR, a€? best practicea€™, middle managers a€“ a€?like they have gota€™? A significant number of clergy on these leadership courses have had previous careers in business or industry. I reflect how often, after the last candidate has come through, there can be a lingering sense of disappointment in the air that someone we hoped for and needed has not turned up. Deuteronomy 17.14-20 anticipates a time when the people will ask for a King on almost identical terms as the Samuel narrative.
Its strategies will be insufficiently rooted, he says, in the a€?providential presence and absence of Yahweha€™.
Biblical vocation to leadership and the exercising of power starts from a very different place. We a€?do Goda€™ in the midst of raw and complex human dilemmas, in real and costly engagement within actual history.
And in our media driven age, and in declining institutions, a€?personalitya€™ and appearance are criteria harder than ever to resist.
Our reading of the Bible can be heroic too a€“ a text that takes us over, telling us what to do and think. I am grateful to Paul Barrett, friend and former director of SmithKline Beecham for his perspectives on this period of business history. No serious diocese or Regional Training PartnershipA  is without its own a€?Clergy Leadership Coursea€™. Not for the first time the church was thinking the worlda€™s thoughts after it.A  British business had long been structured around families or run on military, hierarchical lines.
It may be that an institution that chooses its senior leadership through the archaic and secretive system of a€?prefermenta€™ will always struggle with the consultative, collaborative transparency that post-heroic leadership aspires to. We a€?do Goda€™ in the midst of raw and complex human dilemmas, in real and costly engagement within actual history.A  Without that context theology becomes a detached piety, a pseudo-innocence feeding on idealized assumptions about God and ourselves. And in our media driven age, and in declining institutions, a€?personalitya€™ and appearance are criteria harder than ever to resist.A  When leadership is seduced by the search for reputation, status, ambition, or its own needs we will be missing the tough realities of the seductiveness of power and the hidden theology that shapes us and our story. This popular program has consistently been successful, giving each LTP the unique dual opportunity to train to become a part of our staff while enjoying the social, physical and developmental components of the program as a camper.
LTP trainees generally work for part of the day in a group of campers and spend the remainder of the day following their own program with their supervisor.
Only those LTPs who have successfully completed our LTP program are eligible to join our SLDC staff the following summer.
Cutting edge theological training establishments will have their a€?Leadership studies departmenta€™. Across the scriptures generally, a€?leadershipa€™ is an idea that sits in tension between the Kingship of Yahweh, His Word and His peoplea€™s story. Then, as now, a€?leadershipa€™ does not exist as a pure theory that comes with a universal adaptor for plugging into any organization or business in a€?needa€™.
We have strong expectations and requirements of those who lead us and are blunt in our assessment of those who dona€™t match up. One parish priest described the experience as like being required to live a€?by a script I had not writtena€™.


They know very well that what a€?The Churcha€™ is drawing on from outside as examples of a€?best practicea€™ is actually very mixed in practice. Leadership a€?like other nationsa€™, as Samuel pointed out (1Sam810ff), was routinely despotic. This is characterised by a collective abdication from shared responsibility, a culture of blame, fragile relationships and a perversely ambivalent subservience to a€?the powersa€™ while projecting messianic expectations onto those it chooses to a€?rule over thema€™. But beware of coming to narratives such as 1&2 Samuel expecting an unambiguous teaching, with unambiguous characters and unmistakable meaning. Both operated forms of patronage that rewarded loyalty and long service without always a due regard to ability. They know very well that what a€?The Churcha€™ is drawing on from outside as examples of a€?best practicea€™ is actually very mixed in practice.A  Alongside a serious commitment to developing in leadership skills there is a right unease with an institution that feels in thrall to and intimidated by secular business theory and language. Through hands-on experience and guidance from staff and supervisors, the LTPs become better prepared for any future work with children, in and out of a camp setting. And lest all this sounds cynical let me declare that I have benefited from such courses myself and now regularly contribute to their programs.
It is a symptom of the longings and needs of an institution facing enormous pressures and working anxiously but bravely with dwindling resources.
In the face of a crisis, The Hero is allowed to suspend all norms of moral behaviour to overcome the problem. The passage warns against the temptation to identify leadership by outward signs of status (property, wealth, possessions etc).
We have to gloss over those large parts of the Samuel narrative where Yahweh is effectively absent and silent.
What we have here is a very different kind of story telling a€“ one that invites us to a different way of reading scripture. Events happen, people (or God) do things, but the narrative is very sparing about telling you their motives and feelings. And the context and the questions today feel very new.A  These are thoroughly testing times. There are obvious parallels with the institutional church a€“ the church a€?familya€™ governed under the benevolent patronage of a formal, patriarchal hierarchy.
Robert Alter describes them as a€?one of the most astounding pieces of narrative that has come down to us from the ancient worlda€™ (1999 pix). There is a discernible lack of theological confidence in this engagement and little conviction that the Christian practice and theology might actually inform this process a€“ both secular and religious a€“ or even transform it.
The style is relational, communal, non-directive, collaborative, negotiated.A  a€?It is not leadership from any one person that is required, it is an aspect of leadership each of us summons from within.
They are generally loners, non-consultative and relationally dysfunctional a€“ and of course ruggedly and irresistibly handsome. Providence is not trust in a certain preferred outcome so much as a faith that a greater purpose and story is being continually woven into our narrative a€“ often unseen and despite all appearances on the surface. One of the honourable qualities in the Anglican tradition is its willingness to draw widely for its learning.
Leadership thus becomes a rather fluid concept focusing on those behaviours which propel the work of the group forward. But this does presuppose a confident theological framework within which to test, critique and respond to what we are hearing.A  That is not always apparent in the present context. The vision for leadership here is of non-heroic, and non-hierarchical exercised among and within the community, without a€?exalting himself above other members of the communitya€™ (vs14-20). Some gained cult status and they were undoubtedly a means for rapid transformation in uncertain economic climates. The vision for leadership here is of non-heroic, and non-hierarchical exercised among and within the community, withoutA  a€?exalting himself above other members of the communitya€™ (vs14-20). But lest we be tempted to think this is what our Bishops should become we should note that the average life span of these men (as most still are) is around two years (1).
In the church the attraction to a€?leadershipa€™ also coincided with the decision to ordain women as priests. So, whatever the intention, at the very moment women began to minister in full, priestly partnership with men in the church the task was renamed and redefined by a noun borrowed from organizational worlds habitually dominated by men.



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