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Power and Weakness; Respect, Authority, and Responsibility

 

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This past week my heart was filled with relief, hope, and joy as our diocese celebrated the consecration and installation of our new Bishop, Geoff Peddle.

For a number of months this past year, we, like some other dioceses in Canada, have been faced with a void in leadership, with the retirement of the bishop, and the subsequent transition that occurs. Now, as we engage with our bishop, there is hope, and opportunities for listening and learning in these next months. In addition, the presence of our new bishop offers opportunity for the church in this place to move forward, as together the bishop and people draw the map of ministry and service.

As I listened to the preacher at the consecration, I heard themes of respect, authority, and responsibility, in relation to Christian leadership both within the community of faith and in the wider world. This challenge offers us an opportunity to consider leadership in the light of our expression of faith and rule of life.

Leadership in Christian terms relates to imagery concerning power and powerlessness: weakness and strength. Our Scriptures, hymnody and prayer speak of humility, forgiveness, strength in weakness, redemption. We have images of sheep among wolves, ‘the last shall be first, and first last,’ the shepherd, the Good Samaritan, and above all, an innocent man executed for the life of the world.

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Within the confines of human administrative processes, there are the natural themes of authority, respect and responsibility, whether with leadership and administration in business, education, politics, or industry. These natural themes can merge with the Christian journey in leadership and service, yet not necessarily so.

While my heart has been comforted with the transfer in leadership in the Christian community where I serve, that has not been so in the wider context of community and society. This has been a tumultuous week in the life of our province, with challenges and changes in leadership of our governing politicians. While the life of our diocese has returned to a period of stability, growth, and consistent leadership, now, within the city where I serve, and the province, there is much chaos. I am encouraged that some statements from both our former premier and interim premier speak of respect and service. I am discouraged, however, that some words from the public, the media and from politicians seem to only focus on a grasp for power, and the preying on the weak.

aahenLeadership within the church community is tough. It can be no better in any area of business, education, politics, or industry where leaders are about serving and caring for the responsibility to which they have been entrusted. I hope as our faith community examines the challenges and hardships that this province faces, we can continue to offer prayer, support, and vision to others. In Christian leadership, Desmond Tutu reminds us that we are not politicians, we are pastors (Rainbow People of God, 1994). We are reminded that we hold a responsibility to shed light on the marks of the Gospel throughout the world in all facets of life. We are to support and care for those in positions of leadership and service, for they need the presence of God in their work just as much as we do.

As the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador embarks on its continued journey in partnership with God and with Geoff+ as our chief shepherd, we cannot ignore nor discount the challenges faced by other leaders of faith and of service in the province.  May we continue to learn and grow, as well as support and care for the world around us.

David Burrows

About David Burrows

David Burrows is a priest of the church, currently serving in parish ministry within the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, a place he has called home for the past fifteen years. He consistently engages dialogue and action with the wider community through creative outreach projects. Cycling, kayaking, writing, and driving fast cars are distractions in his life.
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