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Home > 2013 > April Online Only > A Tale of Two Leaders

Every church has a Dave. In the church my friend Shane pastors, Dave was in his early 60s, was a member of the church for decades and thought he knew everything about everything. Dave was overly involved in any church business. Hearing the need for more consistent stewardship, Dave took it upon himself to corner new members, providing a little muscle to begin or increase their giving. Confidently sure he could fix the broken entryway door, he only made it worse, locking everyone out of church on a Sunday morning. The problem wasn't that Dave thought he was always right and always needed. The problem was that Dave told everyone so, explaining to parents of small children why they were parenting their kids wrong, or announcing all the reasons why the car you bought was stupid, or asserting why worship needed to happen in a certain way. Dave was exhausting. As my friend Shane explained, when you saw Dave, you walked in the other direction.

On the other end of the continuum was Jodi; every church has or wishes for a Jodi. Jodi was in her early thirties, a petite redhead, bubbly and constantly upbeat. She had come to the church right out of college by happenstance. She had just taken a new ("first real," as she said) job. The church was in her neighborhood, and feeling lonely one Sunday, and being a real people-person, she showed up. Since then Jodi had been a fixture. In no overstatement, the church simply couldn't function without her; her energy was infectious, giving new life to this aging congregation. In generosity she made sure things happened, making all the arrangements for the annual outdoor service at the beach and single-handedly hosting a jazz cocktail party to fund the confirmation retreat.

If Dave was the great know-it-all annoyance of the church, Jodi was its young saint, quietly and competently leading. Jodi literally kept the church going as they went through the 14-month transition from the previous pastor to my friend Shane. Everyone loved Jodi for her kind, upbeat, and selfless leadership.

It was then no surprise to anyone that both Dave and Jodi were elected to the church council. Though in two radically different ways, they were both leaders. Even though most people couldn't stand Dave, truth be told, it didn't matter. The church needs people willing to do things, and Dave was more than willing to do so.

Coming face-to-face

As the council met for its annual retreat, Shane decided to start with an exercise that was radical in its simplicity. He knew that in his church, issues so easily became more important than people, so he began by setting chairs facing each other no more than three feet apart. He then passed out notepads and pencils. As the room got heavy with confusion Shane invited the council members to sit facing another person, with just notepad and sharp pencil in hand. They were instructed to say nothing. One half of the pair was to look at the other person, just to see, for a whole minute, and then for two more minutes to sketch the other person's face. The discomfort was palpable; to cope, giggling and funny faces began the process, and a handful of council members kept protesting that they had no artistic skills. But Shane kept reassuring them that it had nothing to do with artistic skill but with seeing, and asked them to please honor the silence. After a few minutes, they switched roles, the sketched becoming the sketcher. Then Shane had them switch seats and repeat the process a couple more times, spending a few silent minutes staring and drawing each other until they had each drawn, and been drawn, three or four times.

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Posted: April 15, 2013

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