Reflecting on Church Leadership in Global Contexts
Daring to be Vulnerable
By Clinton Dix, in Space for Grace Network.
I was recently leading a session on cross-cultural leadership with 25 mission agency staff from Brazil. As I spoke about the potential pitfalls and methods of preventing cultural mistakes, the chairman of the board whispered me a question, “Can I share with the group the email that you sent the board earlier this year?” I stopped and quickly considered it. I had sent an email a while back carefully explaining our consulting requirements. It turned out that people reading my email completely misunderstood my intentions. So I agreed (slightly reluctantly). To my surprise the chairman had a copy of my email with him and proceeded to read it out, but without mentioning any names. The entire group howled with laughter that a mission leader could have sent such an email. After the laughter died down I dared to admit: “I was the one that sent the email.” Stunned silence… I continued facilitating. From that moment on our discussions got deeper and more open. I thought about this afterwards. Why had I dared to be vulnerable? I realized that it was only because we had worked together before and we trusted each other. What difference had it made? I also realized that after the “confession” the trust level deepened and our discussions also deepened. Research backs up both observations:
Vulnerability and transparency are stronger when trust already exists.
Vulnerability and transparency can deepen trust.
But…what about when there is no trust, either because something has occurred to break trust, or where there is no history to establish trust?
Are we willing to be vulnerable, to be transparent in those situations?
What stories can we share with others that allows us to be vulnerable, that can create that first spark of trust?
What does listening to God; being a steward of grace; depending on the Holy Spirit really look like in the messy realities of our organisations? How do we put these principles into practice? Have a look at this talk that Rick James gave to members of the Danish Mission Council. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Creating Space for Grace is integrating our Christian faith into our leadership and organisational change in inclusive, creative and transforming ways.