Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leadership: Scarcity or Abundance

"We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness."
1 Corinthians 12:6-8, NRSV

The question of leadership in The United Methodist Church, and more specifically the lack thereof, is not a question of quantity but quality. The church suffers from a scarcity of vibrant, competent, qualified and compelling leadership and an abundance of recycled, complacent and myopic leadership. Many holding leadership in the church are ineffective yet regard their positions of power and authority as entitlement for many years of mediocre service. In fact, the church often rewards ineffective leadership with promotions and hides the transgressions of its failed leaders behind the shroud of success. Few are able to measure results, maintain financial integrity and elevate the spirits of their followers.

When it comes to considering scarcity and abundance to fund leadership development, the church need only look to the number of active and retired bishops it continues to sustain for life, and even into death. If the church has seen fit to place term limits upon general secretaries (12 years), the same should be invoked upon bishops. Without a better system requiring productive, competent and accountable leaders, future General Conferences will be faced with increases to the Episcopal Fund at a rate three or more times that of the general church budget just to maintain its icons.

Being a leader for life is not an entitlement or a club membership; it is an honor and privilege that is earned each day in faithful service to God and one another.

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