Lots of people are asking how we are to lead the Church. That’s partly because there’s so much confusion in the world and partly because there is confusion in the Church. Almost every congregation with which I have been involved lately has some people who are elated because of recent politics; that same church will also have some people who are depressed because of the recent election. Nearly every congregation has some people who will passionately argue about a variety of perspectives on human sexuality or any other of a number of topics currently besetting the Body of Jesus. How do you lead in such a mess?
Even if it wasn’t seasonal I would turn to Mary, mother of Jesus. After receiving the angel’s stunning news that she was going to bear God’s child, her only response was, “Let it be to me according to your word.” [Luke 2:37]
Mary led by trusting God. If we are to lead we have to act as we feel called by God and directed by the witness of Christ Jesus.
Mary led by surrender. Mary did not choose whom to serve or what she would have to do. If we are to lead we have to except God’s direction and share it.
Mary lead with trust of others. Mary did not always get to choose her partners but she worked with many others – Joseph, Elizabeth, Anna, Magi, shepherds, Simon – to do God’s work. If we are to lead we have to work within the Christian community, trusting each other. Leaders do not reject other people, even if they take exception to their ideas.
Mary led with confidence. Mary trusted her own gifts and her own ability to do her part in God’s work. If we are to lead we have to trust our abilities and our ability to take our proper place in doing God’s work.
Mary knew trouble. Mary could not avoid trouble because of her place as a leader. Neither do we.
Mary led with hope. She looked forward to what God was going to do. If we lead as Christians we will always point to hope, hope for the dispossessed, hope for the vulnerable as Jesus was vulnerable, and hope for ourselves.
Mary did not lead to a perfect place. But she did lead to Jesus. May we lead the same way.
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