Is Lasting Leadership Possible? Part 2

Yesterday I had a Leadership Adventure teleconference, an interview with Larry Matthews, coordinator of the Leadership in Ministry workshops. For 32 years, Larry was pastor of the Vienna Baptist Church in Vienna, Virginia, so he knows something about lasting in ministry.

A couple of quotes from the interview stood out for me. I asked Larry the question of the day, “Is lasting leadership possible?” He reminded everyone that leadership is always a relationship between two parties, and that there are no guaranteed outcomes. He said, “I can only function in a way that lasting leadership is possible.” He highlighted that an essential (and challenging) element of that functioning is releasing outcome.

He also talked about the critical importance of dealing with the inevitable resistance. He said, “We expect ministry without resistance.” Larry taught with Edwin Friedman for years, and often speaks about Friedman’s notion that “the key to the kingdom” for leaders is dealing with resistance. We so often get frustrated and reactive when resistance kicks in, without recognizing that it is part of the picture for all leaders.

To read Larry’s article, “The Key to the Kingdom” in the Leadership in Ministry newsletter, click here to go to the Leadership in Ministry website and then click on “newsletter” to find the Winter 2009 issue. It’s a brief and thoughtful article that will help you think about the most important thing you bring to your ministry: yourself.

5 replies on “Is Lasting Leadership Possible? Part 2

  • Margaret Marcuson

    Rebecca, thanks for this thoughtful comment. I do think it takes a long time to make incremental progress in the way we respond to others. That phrase, “creative response” is a useful one. Simply suggesting to ourselves that the way through involves our creativity can generate some new energy.

  • Rebecca Maccini

    For those of us unable to be part of the teleconference, I appreciate a thought or two from it. I am still pondering resistance as ‘keys to the kingdom.’ I think there is a lot of truth in it; and that it is in the creative responses to resistance that is a ‘key.’ Admittedly, I find it extremely challenging. I asked myself recently if I am finding it any easier after ‘thinking Bowen’ for a decade. I was thinking of a parishioner whom I really find difficult and began to get worked up about it, but was able to step back a bit and say to myself that I didn’t have to get so worked up; and if I calmed down a bit, I would probably be able to think about some options when it came to my interactions with this individual.

  • Margaret Marcuson

    Thanks, Betty! Ed Friedman used to talk about the undifferentiated, unregulated forces (whether cellular, as in cancer, individual, or nations, as persistently invasive of others. I found that useful, both in assessing others and in managing my own functioning. I need to ask, where is the line between me and others, and stay on my side of the line.

    As for the question of “self” I tend to view our best self as God’s gift to ourselves and others. So when we live and lead out of that best self, God is part of the picture. So it’s not “selfish” to focus on self in that respect.

  • Betty Johnson

    What excellent resources we are blessed with! Thank you Margaret.

    I wonder if Friedman’s reference to “the kingdom” is about power and control. I wonder if the differentiation he is talking about, when healthy (ie: not motivated by selfishness), is what disengages us from power and control struggles and therefore allows us to be ourselves within whatever “the kingdom” is. I wonder if “the kingdom” is a universal reference which applies to any interaction between two or more people. Interactions always evoke power and control issues, some just managed better than others – ie: moving from the impossible to the managable!!

    I usually have a bit of angst when I real statements like, “It really is about self…” That may be a reflection of my age and stage in life, but I prefer to focus on God-help and God-esteem, rather than self-help and self-esteem, all the while recognizing and taking responsibility for the self, of course. Just a thought.


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