Saturday, October 01, 2011

Humility and vulnerability

I sent a letter to Living Room facilitators tonight, as well as those who have indicated they might like to start a Living Room group sometime. I'm going to share it with you here, because you never know what leaders might be hiding out there - maybe some who haven't even realized such work might be for them:

Over the past two days I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, a conference featuring some very inspiring speakers, each addressing a facet of leadership. Patrick Lencioni and John Dickson had some things to say about "humility" and "vulnerability" that I would like to share with you. These two qualities are, I believe, very important for Living Room facilitators to have. Those qualities can make all the difference between having a so-so group and a truly successful and vibrant support group.

Dickson said that humility is "the noble choice to forgo your status and use your influence for the good of others before yourself....Humility is beautiful...We are attracted to the great who are humble."

Lencioni told us how we are called to vulnerability - to being real - to being honest about who we are. "That's how we draw people to us."

Isn't it Jesus' amazing humility that draws us to Him? Isn't the love He showed to all - us sinners and the outcasts of His day - that makes us love Him so much? As followers of Christ, we are called on to imitate His humility.

One of my favourite Bible passages is in Philippians 2:

" humility consider others better than yourselves....Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
...he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"

Dickson explained to us how we consider a humble person trustworthy. Through story he showed us how humility can inspire us. And don't we all trust Jesus? And aren't we all inspired by Jesus' great example?

One of my favourite books on leadership is In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. I'm tempted to quote long passages from it here, though it's just a small volume. But I'll try to control myself. Nouwen writes:

"When the members of a community of faith cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits. ..The leadership about which Jesus speaks is of a radically different kind from the leadership offered by the world. It is a servant leadership in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who needs the people as much as they need their leader."

Yes, as facilitators of a peer support group, we have needs in the same way that the people we serve have needs. We should not hide those needs, but be open about them, as we expect group members to be open. We need to model the kind of authenticity we expect others to have. When we as leaders are real and don't hide things, others will follow our example. I try to do that in my own group, and how freeing it is to be able to be myself with them!! How freeing it is not to have to look like I've got it all together!

May God bless you in your work.

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