John Wayne once said, “You're short on ears and long on mouth.” I’m not sure who John was talking to but it could certainly have been me.
How about you? Do you ever find yourself short on ears and long on mouth?
Listening is one of the most loving things you and I can do at home, with our friends, and in the places where we lead and seek to make a kingdom difference. Paul Tillich agrees: “The first duty of love is to listen.”
Paul said, “Love cares more for others than for self…[love] doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always me first…”
Are you more like a soldier or a scout?
A soldier’s job is to protect and defend a position. A scout’s job is to seek out and explore new possibilities. Two distinct approaches with very different outcomes.
In his book, The Book of Beautiful Questions, Warren Berger suggests that scout like behavior gives a leader a definite advantage.
During times of change and transition, this is especially true. We need flexibility and approach situations as scouts who are on the look out for new possibilities, new ideas, and new ways forward.
“The mindset of a scout is rooted in curiosity. Scouts are more likely to say they feel pleasure when they learn new information or solve a puzzle. They’re more likely to feel intrigued when they encounter something that contradicts their expectations.”*
Leaders with scout-like behavior have what’s called intellectual humility.
Intellectual humility is “a state of openness...
“Yesterday’s solutions and procedures may not provide an adequate or appropriate response to the present challenges. Hence, the biggest hurdles facing long-time leaders may not be in learning new insights and skills, but in unlearning what they consider to be tried and true and what thus provides them with a false sense of security.”
— Eddie Gibbs in Leadership Next
Your biggest challenge in working with a congregation in transition, may not be to simply find the right map to follow but in helping them unlearn what might be holding them captive to past solutions.
An analogy I've found helpful in thinking about the role of a traveling companion and coach to congregations in transition (of any kind) is to see our role not as map readers but as navigators. I give credit to Leonard Hjalmarson in his book, Broken Futures, for reminding me of this way of framing the work we do (a book I recommend you add to your reading list).
Eddie Gibbs says further,...