Leading through Disruptive Moments and Unifying our Collection of Churches, Backgrounds and Cultures

In my new year’s message to our Diocese, I exhorted us to Remember 5 truths as we move forward together in our beloved Anglican Diocese of the Southwest.

Disruptive moments are often Divine appointments;

Progress Without Pain is not possible;
The promise of God is the provision of Grace;
Disruptive moments produce dynamic growth;
What we receive from disruptive moments depends on how we respond.
from Turning Point, David Jeremiah)

The ADSW is certainly traveling through a period of disruptive moments, and how we respond will determine what we receive. Disruptive Moments can be powerful precursors to significant change. Whenever they occur, they can single-handedly re-engineer whatever they touch. Like forces of nature, the gravitational pull of these shifts moves conventional thought and practice to new, unexplored territory, and those who fail to recognize these moments become the dinosaurs of their industry. 

Bishop Meditations (1)

"Disruptive moments are unexpected bends in the road that change everything. They change what is important, they feel foreign, even wrong, as they shake us from our slumber of 'knowns' demanding we adjust, learn, challenge, and change. Throughout history we have seen God leverage disruptive moments to advance His agenda, forcing utter dependency upon Him."

Christian Leadership

In my career, I have been influenced by many accomplished spiritual leaders, and many authors.  Allow me to mention a few quotes here: 

“Great men lead people, but greater men train leaders.” (Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ

As leaders we are called not only to raise up followers, but also to equip leaders. How we define Christian leadership is the crucial starting point.

“Leadership is a dynamic process in which a man or woman with God-given capacity influences a specific group of God’s people toward His purposes for the group.” (Robert Clinton)

“Leadership is influence, nothing more nothing less.” (John Maxwell)

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” (Peter Drucker)

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” (Warren Bennis)

Here are some famous "disruptive moments" from Scripture:

  • Abraham hears from God to leave everything he knew and to go to an undesignated, undefined land God would show him as he and his family trusted His leadership.  
  • “When the time had fully come God brought forth his son into the world…” Gal 4:4 This ultimately became the pivot point of all human history, dividing “BC and AD,” challenging what the world thought it understood about God.
  • Jesus’ principles disrupted the faith and culture paradigms of his day as he said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” Matt 5:38-40 

A few disruptive moments in the recent history of our Anglican Diocese of the Southwest will hopefully drive and shape our future into a dynamic growth direction:

-Ordained to the presbyterate a mere two weeks prior, Pastor Marcos Farhid Adabache Pinedo is kidnapped in front of his church, Iglesia Gran Pastor, Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico;

-Pastor Farhid is miraculously rescued by the Mexican National Police and returned to his family two days later November 26, 2019;

-December 1, 2019 at a Diocesan staff meeting in Albuquerque, Bishop John Mark Zimmerman reveals his plan to resign from his Episcopate in the ADSW and become an interim rector in another diocese;

- December 16, 2019 Pastor Farhid and his family arrive in the United States for a well-deserved sabbatical and application for asylum;

-April 1, 2020 the ADSW Standing Committee becomes the Ecclesiastical Authority for the Diocese;

-May 13, 2020 Committee on Nominations to search for a next Bishop appointed by the standing committee;

-Finally, let’s not even consider the effects of Disruption the Coronavirus global pandemic has had on our Diocese.

If, in your relationships, career pursuits, or ministry your drive toward more faithful, never seen innovation has set you back on your heels, forcing you onto a trail no one else seems to be on… GREAT!  It is likely you are experiencing a disruptive moment! Embrace the changes required of you, question conventionality without losing your soul, be kind to your naysayers who will never “get it” (but are precious anyway), take a deep breath and begin enjoying your “new world.”

I have grown to appreciate and use the following definition: Christian leadership is a process of influencing a community to use their God-given gifts toward a goal and purpose as led by the Holy Spirit.  But, how does this work? And, how is Christian leadership different?

A Skill?
A common debate about leadership involves whether leaders are made or born. On the one hand, some believe leadership is simply a skill to be developed. On the other, some think there are natural born leaders, with no refining or development necessary. The answer lies in between these two extremes. There’s no doubt some are born with a combination of characteristics that easily opens doors for leadership. However, there are additional skills of leadership one can learn.

Have we overestimated the importance of being born with great ability—leadership, sports, music, or other areas—and underestimated the power of deliberate, intentional practice to improve? Regardless of our starting point, we can grow as leaders.

I am struck by the reaction people have after achieving a leadership position in their congregation. They feel empowered because they believe they have learned the skills to lead a congregation or ministry. They will learn to lead inside the gift set and wiring God has already given them.

Therefore, whether leadership comes naturally to us or not, we can learn to lead better, often by developing skills. Sometimes those are pure leadership skills, but sometimes they are skills that support leadership. When it comes to leadership, growing in specific skills allows us to better serve God’s people by leading them well. Growing as disciples personally includes developing as a leader specifically.

Shared Power
Christian leadership— the kind that honors God— is not about the accumulation of power. Rather, it is about empowering others. Theologian John Stott said it best when he said: “The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power, but love; not force, but example; not coercion, but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”

There are different types of power when it comes to leadership. For example, there is the type of power that allows you to hire and fire members of your staff. However, if that is the power you use, it is not Christian leadership, because “people development works best through inspiration, not authority.”

Part of that power means we seek to elevate others. Too often, church leaders focus on their specific and more immediate tasks—preaching the Word, leading in worship, discipling students—to the neglect of the more long-term, yet equally vital role of developing and releasing leaders. This has been something I’ve increasingly focused on—perhaps more so as I’ve grown older.

I respectfully request the reader to take some time to review the Shared Covenant of the Diocese, believing it to contain good principles of leadership: https://anglicansw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ADSW-Covenant-Form.pdf

When we find ourselves in positions of power, we have to be willing, as Stott said, to view our role as leaders as opportunities to serve others through love. Remember our purpose is to help others and bring glory to God. Understanding the role of power in leadership helps us do both of those things. Great leaders who understand how to use their power will take more blame than they deserve, give more credit to others than might be warranted, and give their leadership authority away to others whenever possible.

Leaders Are Not Perfect
One of the hardest aspects of leadership is managing expectations. Our leadership skills will not always be perfectly practiced in our lives. I’ve struggled and failed as a leader, and I’ve struggled and failed as a Christian. Leadership is defining reality, and a central reality of leadership is to point people to a perfect Jesus, not an imperfect leader.

If we define Christian leadership as obediently following God’s leading by using the gifts God gives us, then humility and openness can help us to develop as we lead others towards God’s kingdom. Thus, leaders need people speaking into our lives as well. Our role as Christian leaders should be focused on the God we follow and the people we serve. When those realities are present, we will lead well.

My prayer for our Diocese is that we respond as a unified movement through the Disruptive moments we have experienced and certainly will experience again, in order to attract the man the Lord has assuredly already picked for us, and to bring about the dynamic growth we all hope for.

810_3396 (2)

Leo Gus Haddad

ADSW Missions/Operations/Finance Director

Gus has been in leadership at St. Clement's, El Paso-his home parish-for many years and has been an integral part of the leadership in the Anglican Diocese of the Southwest as well as the ACNA Province as an Executive Committee member. With all his extra time, he runs his own business and tries to get in visits with his grandkids!