Gold Leadership vs. Gold Plated Look Alike
When I worked at a non-profit organization in my early 20’s I experienced the difference between power and leadership.
My first year was the gold-plated lookalike that Joan Chittister described. We schemed to get the best office location in the new building to show a greater position of power. Gala volunteers determined who was in or out based on popularity, money, and skin color rather than skill. Rumors (truths) floated in the air about financial and sexual indiscretions. The staff worked separately and rarely spoke of our mission.
That was power and we had little to show for it.
Solid gold leadership was ushered in by Joe, an older, quiet, simple, humble
new Director of Education.
- He chose the parking spot furthest from the building vs near the front door.
- He chose a back office, divided into office cubicles, openly sharing information with me and one other department teammate.
- Near the end of the day he would say, "Go home! Be with your family. We need rest also."
- He graciously welcomed and appreciated volunteers by providing humble yet generous meals, being a mindful steward of the money. Breaking bread together broke barriers as they came together to to share resources.
- He listened to outsiders say we were “lily white”! People of color were invited to participate. As our color changed, new stories and solutions were discovered.
- Everyday, Joe was heard telling someone, “You’re a good person”.
The difference was clear. Power brought out the worst in us. Compassionate leadership brought out the best in us.
Our gifts were encouraged and our work improved. Our work was noticed in the city, state and nation. Our fundraising goals exceeded expectations and new partnerships were created for the common good.
What does this have to do with church leadership?
Everything! Joe is an example of a person formed by a Benedictine spiritual life. At church, he practiced listening, hospitality, balance, creative work and humility. This practiced life soon became a reality in his work, family, and community, reflecting God’s way of living. People noticed the difference!
What if you or your congregation created a rule of living as described in Benedictine Spirituality below, that could be a guide in our times of political, economic, environmental, or spiritual upheaval?
Explore this Rule. How could it transform you, your congregation or community into a Holy way to live and love? How can you use your gifts in a compassionate way to change lives?
It begins with a connection to God through worship and devotion and continues to be practiced day after day until God is where you are everyday!