Good to Great and the Balcony

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great states that a “Level 5 Leader” is one who embodies “a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. Such a leader is committed to core values that interpret the learning necessary to adapt to new and challenging situations and opportunities.”

My-Balcony-StatementClergy feel anxiety. When anxiety becomes overpowering the ability to adapt to new and challenging situations and opportunities is diminished. Effective practices and perspectives that hone intrapersonal intelligence mediated by self-reflection are of utmost importance for healthy clergy leadership.

Intrapersonal intelligence is active self-awareness: the capacity to learn and adapt to the factors of one’s own reality. The self-awareness synthesis of organizational development, emotional knowledge and education theory guides clergy decision-making when confronting personal and corporate anxiety. The outcome from this practice is increased, non-anxious ordained leadership who foster healthy change and development in their church communities.

In the parable featuring the prodigal son, the elder brother, and the loving father (Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32). When he came to himself is the expression that describes the moment that initiated behavioral change in the prodigal son. The loving father offers effective leadership supported by governing values/guiding principles. The the loving father is non-anxious when offering both sons space to make their own decisions. The transformation of the elder brother like Saul into the Apostle Paul (Acts 9) speaks to the power of leading by giving space. Paul’s once controlling nature, bound up in a perfectionistic embrace of the law, finds the grace-filled humility to guide his and the church’s growth by essentially praying, “I will, with God’s help.”

When you view the sermon preached on February 23, 2014, you will see a congregation and pastor living these values as they explore Balcony Perspective in preparation for Lent.

Benedict and the Balcony: “I will, with God’s Help”

The wisdom of St. Benedict’s rule for life in community is at the heart of the core values of The Episcopal Church. This wisdom has reached us by virtue of our heritage from the church in England as guided by the Book of Common Prayer and expressed in how we pray and serve together.

Embracing God in all aspects of my life should be an obvious statement for a priest with over 25 years ordained service. However, early on in my ministry I filtered information to fit what I wanted to hear in order to support how I wanted to act. I marvel at the contradiction I accepted in how I approached my roles as pastor and rector. When acting as a pastor, I always understood, at a level beyond cognition, that deep listening was necessary and that I totally needed God to be effective. I had ready access to my balcony perspective because I knew I needed God. However, when acting as rector, it was as if I said to God, “You’re busy. This is hands-on management stuff. I’ll report in when I’ve taken care of business.” I seemed to live a revised version of the Serenity Prayer: “God bless my ability
 to handle the things I cannot control; 
strength to control the things I can; and determination to make a difference.”  This was an expression of “I will.”

Adding the words “with God’s help” to pray “I will, with God’s help” is shorthand for the true Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” The tools and images I practice and offer help me truly pray, “I will, with God’s help” and call from within me the humility necessary to integrate both roles and minister from an effective balcony perspective.

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