I picked up a book on leadership, titled Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership by Nancy Ortberg. I bought it because Nancy’s husband, John, is one of my favorite authors. I’m glad I did.
She links hope and leadership as two very important factors in moving any organization forward. She writes, “Leadership is the hope that we can change the things that need to be changed and create what we cannot imagine. Hope gives us the power to move forward, the power to forgive, and the grace to keep the promises we have made.”
I like that idea a lot. I’ve always been a hope-filled person. Every year, for example, I block out Dec. 31-Jan. 2 for a possible trip to Pasadena to see my beloved University of California Golden Bears play in the Rose Bowl. The fact that they have not been there since 1959 does not deter my hope! (My friend Greg Bates would tell me I’m delusional, not hopeful, but he is a Mizzou fan so what does he know?)
Ortberg thinks there are many people in our congregations who are filled with hope. She points out that they are all ages. “Too often, I think, we unfairly stereotype the elderly. We accuse them of being resistant to change and stuck in the old ways. But here’s what I think. I think people who resist change and hold on to the old ways when they are in their twenties become people who resist change and hold on to old ways when they are older. People who embrace change and gravitate toward new ideas in their twenties become people who embrace change and gravitate toward new ideas when they are older.”
I remember a man named Gordon Dalrymple. Gordon was an elder and a member of the board at the church I served in Atlanta. One night at a church board meeting, as we argued over the appropriate next steps for some project, Gordon stood in the middle of our meeting and said, “I have great hope for the ministry of this church. Let’s not get stuck in minutiae when the Spirit of God is leading us toward new opportunities for ministry.” It was like a voice right out of heaven. Gordon was 70-something at the time.
Gordon’s advice reminds us of the new opportunities God is placing before us here at this great old church as we seek to become God’s church. There is great wisdom and hope in our leadership here. I’m eagerly anticipating this new year more than any other!
Grace and Peace to you,