Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pecking Order

In virtually every instance of interpersonal relationships there are struggles to gain and to use power. The outcome of these struggles determines Who's in charge? Who's got the power? Who's going to win or come out on top?

Interestingly, it's not always the biggest chicken that is highest in the pecking order. But it is the one who is the most aggressive and who's willing to fight for the position as top cluck.

We spend the bulk of our lives learning this way of seeing things, viewing the world empirically, comparing one thing to another.

And when it comes to ourselves, we then apply the same kind of analysis and comparison to see how we fit in.

How can we not be competing with those around us if we are caught up in trying to establish our own place on the social ladder?

The kingdom of God is a social order that is based on love and mutual submission. Jesus calls us to see things differently than the rest of the world. He calls us to buck the trend of our push and shove world.

The things that determine greatness in God's view are not prestige or power or aggression or ambition or success, but biblical values like no reputation, weakness, meekness, humility, and service.

The questions in the emerging conversation about leadership and authority result from the structure of the church over the centuries adopting the concepts of hierachical leadership and of domination, the very thing that Jesus so soundly rejected.

Our individual communities and lives are where we actually have the opportunity to serve. It is in that realm that we live out the kind of leader or servant that we are.

Many people in the emerging church conversation have mixed feelings about leadership. Most don’t openly aspire to leadership, at least not “the strong, dominant leader” model. In fact, a person who identifies himself or herself as a leader too openly is viewed with suspicion.

There have been several discussions recently about inclusion in the emerging movement. I found this discussion of the "emergentsia" interesting, especially the expanded conversation in the comments about the power of influence.

I will admit that I tend to observe these conversations from the sidelines with a dispassionate curiosity, assuming that the alpha males will eventually get it figured out if they don't kill one another in the process.

As these issues of inclusion arise, they will hopefully help to shape what kind of conversation this is. Because emerging is born from an upside-down paradigm of leadership, I am hopeful that as far as the conversation is concerned, it will be a conversation among friends and equals.


Call Me Ishmael said...

If a church emerges in the post-modern wilderness, and nobody's there to take charge of it, will they still take up an offering?

grace said...

Only if they can figure out who the deacon is.

Pam Hogeweide said...

Great topic Grace. you've nailed it again. I wonder if Jesus' leadership "style" would even get on the radar nowadays. I wonder if this is why he told several people NOT to report their healing - was it an effort to avoid the whole Jesus Christ Superstar syndrome?

It is my dream to see our leaders transformed into women and men who lead together in a spirit of humility and transparency, being known openly as weak and broken people. I know a few people like this.

Grace, you are one of them.

Bruce said...

That was funny Ishmael.

Interesting post Grace. I think house churches are doing away with certain leadership roles, and pecking order. But I think it is important for us, personally, to find a mentor, a rabbi (teacher) if you will, to keep us grounded and not give in to those philosophies of men that just tickle our ears. It's going to be interesting in the next few years to see what axctually becomes of the emerging church.


grace said...

I believe that in the church we will learn to separate issues of leadership and power.
I agree with you that leadership will be an ongoing role in the church, but I think that part of the purpose of the emerging to church is to redefine leadership as a function of service rather than position.

I've expanded my thoughts about this on today's post regarding the gender issue.
As I was writing, I thought about your comments of a couple of weeks ago about the gender topic being an issue of justice.
I had never really heard that before, but today after reading rachelle's post it really kind of all came together for me.
We can't address issues of power, dominance, and abuse without dealing with the gender issue in the church.