Issue No. 181 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting reminds you to read or re-read my 2009 Book-of-the-Year—especially if you’re working on your strategic plan. And this reminder, visit the eNews archives at my Buckets Blog and check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
The Lurking Question
At a CEO Dialogues roundtable last week, several CEOs remarked how influential one book has been in their lives. It was my 2009 Book-of-the-Year, recommended to me by Don Parrott, president of Finishers Project. Per Ken Blanchard’s suggestion that you should read a book four times—I’m reminding you about it again today.
So this week, I re-read chapter 12, “Finding God’s Will Together,” in preparation for an “Association Leadership Training Module” I’m leading in Turkey next week and the “Rolling 3-Year Strategic Plan Workshop” I’m leading in Orange County, Calif., on April 29. I’m calling this segment, “Insights on Discernment” from the powerful book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, by Ruth Haley Barton. (Read my previous review.) Enjoy!
“At the heart of spiritual leadership and spiritual journeying is discernment—the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God both personally and in community. The Israelite journey is really a story of ongoing discernment.”
“God’s will is the best thing that could happen to us under any circumstances.” (quoting Danny Morris and Charles Olsen in Discerning God’s Will Together)
“The spiritual leader is distinguished by his or her commitment and ability to guide the discernment process so the community can affirm a shared sense of God’s desire for them and move forward on that basis. The practice of leadership discernment, like any other Christian discipline, is a means of creating space for God’s activity in our lives.”
“Romans 12:2 indicates that the ability to discern the will of God is a natural byproduct of spiritual transformation in community.”
“The impulse to discern—to know and do the will of God—is a spiritual dynamic that goes against human willfulness. When individuals, leadership groups or congregations have a desire to become more discerning, this in itself is evidence of God at work.”
“Even when we think we know what the question is, there may be a larger question lurking underneath the rest, a question that holds even greater significance for us. The question about a new building project might deepen into a question about mission and values and whether a new building might not help us stay true to these. What starts out as a meeting to set strategy gives way to the deeper question of whether we are pushing our own agenda or whether God is really opening up new opportunities. What begins as a question about event scheduling raises a more far-reaching question about pace of life and whether we are living together in such a way that we honor true human limitations and create space in our lives for loving God and others. Thus discernment begins with clarifying the question and perhaps even listening for the deeper question.”
“It is also important to involve the right people. One very common leadership mistake is to think that we can take a group of undiscerning individuals and expect them to show up in a leadership setting and all of a sudden become discerning!”
[On Considering Options] “The Quakers, who are known for their discernment practices, would encourage folks to ‘place each path near the heart’ and see which one brings consolation or desolation. On which options does the Spirit of God seem to rest? What is the fruit of each option? Is there a Scripture that God brings to mind that is pertinent to the issue we are facing? What is the thing that God is making natural and easy? What brings a sense of lightness and peace even in the midst of challenge? Is there an option that enables us to do something before we do everything?”
“In an unpublished source, a Quaker pastor put it like this: ‘Unity is the fundamental marker that God’s direction has been discerned.’”
“But discernment is not the endgame. The endgame is to actually do the will of God as we have come to understand it. Now is the time to bring in the strategic planners and the consultants, if you need them. Now is the time to move forward with confidence that ‘the one who calls you is faithful and he will do this.’ (I Thessalonians 5:24 NIV)”
“With all this book’s emphasis on the soul of leadership, you may have been wondering how you get somewhere! Well, you get somewhere by discerning God’s will and doing it together. That is what spiritual community and spiritual leadership is all about.”
To order this book from Amazon, click on this title: Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, by Ruth Haley Barton.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) What if…you don’t have the right people around the table? Do you wait until they become spiritually discerning, or do you look for people who are already spiritually discerning?
2) The Quaker pastor said, “Unity is the fundamental marker that God’s direction has been discerned.” Do you agree? Why?
Impress Your Colleagues - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Drucker Bucket, Chapter 4, in Mastering the Management Buckets, is to impress your colleagues with a few Druckerisms (quotes by the father of modern management, Peter Drucker). The next time, in a particularly boring staff meeting, toss a few one-liners into the mix, like this zinger from Drucker:
"Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done."
For more resources from the Drucker Bucket, including a link to more Drucker quotations and other helpful books, such as The Effective Executive, click on my website.