Defining Leadership, Inclusion and Grace

Wikipedia defines Leadership as follows:

Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task“. Definitions inclusive of nature of leadership have also emerged. Alan Keith of Genentech states that, “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen.” According to Ken “SKC” Ogbonnia, “effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organizational or societal goals.”

I would agree with the definition but would also add, in the context of Christ’s followers, that leadership is a servant role filled by person/persons who can encourage those in the community to contribute within the scope of the gifts and graces God has given them to build up the body and beyond that the Realm of God and to spread the news of God’s Grace.

Leadership is not usually sought out, because honestly, who would want the job if they could help it. Look at Biblical Leaders, all too human folk who’s business good, bad and ugly was written down for generation after generation after generation to critique and proclaim how much better THEY would do in the situation. I mean, look at Moses…I would have NEVER struck the rock God told me to touch…well guess what, on a perfect day, neither would Moses, but it happened while he was doing the best he could while being under a lot of pressure AND being completely human.

Inclusion is really a lot harder to define, because it’s use is situational, some of the definitions include:

1. the act of including or the state of being included
2. something included
3. geology  a solid fragment, liquid globule, or pocket of gas enclosed in a mineral or rock
4. maths
  a. X Y  the relation between two sets that obtains when all the members of the first are members of the second
  b. strict inclusion , proper inclusion X Y  the relation that obtains between two sets when the first includes the second but not vice versa
5. engineering  a foreign particle in a metal, such as a particle of metal oxide

And in the Medical Dictionary:

  1. A nonliving mass, such as a droplet of fat, in the cytoplasm of a cell.
  2. The process by which a foreign or heterogenous structure is misplaced in another tissue.

—Synonyms for inclusion:
1. embody. Include, comprehend, comprise, embrace  imply containing parts of a whole. To include  is to contain as a part or member, or among the parts and members, of a whole: The list includes many new names. To comprehend  is to have within the limits, scope, or range of references, as either a part or the whole number of items concerned: The plan comprehends several projects. To comprise  is to consist of, as the various parts serving to make up the whole: This genus comprises 50 species. Embrace  emphasizes the extent or assortment of that which is included: The report embraces a great variety of subjects.

Inclusion must be defined within the context you are using it, because it can mean anything from acknowledging that something is a part of the whole to a gas bubble in a diamond. As a salesperson in a jewelry store I have dealt with the issue of an inclusion that clouds an otherwise wonderful stone, and now as someone who cares about a community that has tried to define inclusion in the context of who we are becoming I have seen the same kind of clouds form that ruin perfectly good diamonds.

Finding faults in Diamonds is usually easy, sometime with the naked eye, sometimes with a magnifier you can see peices of carbon, inclusions of gas, small fissures and faults that threaten to corrupt the integrety or stucture of the stone.  Most time the gem cutter has already seen these issues and has still produced a cut stone that glimmers and shines and is beautiful to behold, something truly precious.

My question is, as we work together to try to build a precious community that we know is full of imperfections and human failings how can we have conversations that do not threaten the integrety or stucture of what God is doing in our midst? It is so much easier to critize and point out flaws than it is to build up and encourage growth where there is weakness. Critizing and pointing out flaws gets us lots of attention, but how does it show leadership? How does it help to define inclusion? How does it show grace?

Now, let’s look at the definition of Grace. Wikipedia says that Grace has many applications and contexts…Under Religious Grace alone it has 7 highlighted entries based on denominational understandings and theologies. So, do we really know what Grace is? HOW do we know what grace is, or inclusion or leadership for that matter!

All I can tell you is this, I know most of those who are serving as “leadership” in this community and they have hearts to serve as God sees fit. I have experienced inclusion as invitation into the “whole” body of Christ recognizing that the invitation to THIS expression of community may not be right for all and also giving those who do not wish inclusion the love and grace to choose exclusion while recognizing that they are still included in the “whole” body.  I have seen grace extended to me as I understand it, not as much by the members of this community, but by the God who gave me community and is with me as I try not to strike the rocks on a bad day, but continues to be in relationship with me even when I do.

So, what is the point of this blog? To ask each of us to take time to pray, reflect, think, however you process situations and ask ourselves if we are truly in a conversation to help encourage, refine and appreciate something that we identify as a grace that God has given us, including all the inclusions, and help to lead us into the future God has for us together, or are we simply pointing out all the obvious flaws and damage and places where things could fall apart? If we are honest in our answers then it may be time for some of us to step up and live into that, and for some of us to find a place where we DO feel called to that restorative work, understanding our choice of exclusion does not mean that we are not still included in the “Whole” of Christ’s Body. Because ultimately, all communities and their flaws comprise the Body of Christ even those community we choose not to be included in.


The Wild Goose and the Ostrich

My Friend Melissa and I arrived at the Wild Goose Festival at 3am Friday morning and wondered around in the dark until we found a spot to set up our tent (in the dark) and get a couple hours of sleep before the beginning of the events for the day. And WOW did the events start early and there where a lot of events to participate in and people to see and Ostrich to eat…? Yep! There was an Ostrich vendor (luckily he had other things because I am NOT that brave!!).  For me, the giant inflatible Ostrich head became the symbol of my Wild Goose experience.  Something quite out of the ordinary, but the source of nurishment.

This was a experience for me to do more listening than talking (Everyone who knows me knows also how GOOD I am at talking). I listened to Father Rohr talk about split people spliting people and whole people bringing wholeness, I listened to Phylis Tickle talk about the Holy Spirit and the wholeness of God, I listened to Jay Bakker talk about how we must seek justice for ALL before we can all be whole.  I listened to voices raise from the Beer Garden in oneness and wholeness with great, joyous praise, and I heared skilled musicians like Reverend Vince, Derek Webb, David Bazon and Jennifer Knapp lead us through story and song to truth and understanding.  And as Jennifer Knapp recorded her PSA for “It Get’s Better” from the stage and turned the cameras to us…it didn’t feel as if we were trying to send a message of hope to others, but claim that message of hope for ourselves, in hopes that the witness we gave would give that hope. 

You really couldn’t walk anywhere you didn’t find groups of people gathered, talking and laughing, listening and learning, singing and playing, or hugging and praying.  There where all kinds of booths as well, giving information about many different ministries and non-profits filled with people proclaiming with passion what God had called them to be not to do!  I heard speakers who challenged me and reminded me of who God has called me to be.  I saw friends and made friends from all over the map and remembered that we are not alone in our stuggles and passions, but that God is doing a new thing all over, a new thing that may be symbolized by a Wild Goose…but also, at least for me, by a giant inflatable Ostrich!