Monday, March 19, 2007

St Chad - Undefended Leader!

I came home from Glastonbury in time to preach at Evensong - part of a sermon series on missionary saints commemorated during March. I have to say, my heart did not leap when I was assigned Chad. Beyond a number of entertaining and gin sodden evenings with some camp catholics at St Chad's College, Durham, during my post-grad year, I knew less than nothing about the man, and wasn't sure I wanted to.
In the event, he surprised me, as I've illustrated in the sermon, which I've posted here.
I wished, though, that I'd been able to rewrite the sermon again to reflect some of the things I think I've learned about leadership during the weekend.
Chad, you see, sat very light to his leadership.
He was happiest giving away his power (he literally handed back his bishopric, rather than place himself centre stage as a cause celebre, a figurehead for the Celtic church whose influence was diminishing before the church of Rome)
He felt no need to impose himself or assert his dignity - indeed, he consistently resisted those projections of others that insisted that a bishop must be an authority figure . He exemplified the type of power that we identified as "weak power" - which, of course, reaches it perfect expression in the Incarnation and the "undefended leadership" of the Servant King.

The thesis of the weekend, as I understand it, is that our habitual leadership styles emerge from our earliest experience of relationships that meet or fail to meet our internal needs....
We are shaped, we are distorted or we blossom through those experiences.
Our goal in leadership is to become undefended leaders, whose sense of personal worth is independent of our success, or of the affirmation that we receive from others...
Clearly we don't need to be engaged in leadership to find ourselves trapped by the same behaviour patterns, derived from the same sources.
But we can, with God's help, learn new patterns based on our identity as God's beloved children.
Once we grasp in our souls that this love really is unconditional and inexhaustible, received as gift each and every moment, everything is transformed. We don't need defence strategies, because we understand that we are defended by the love that holds creation in being.

I don't expect that St Chad would have much truck with books on The Undefended Leader but I'm certain he'd recognise the subject matter.

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