Mikel Ocean Azure




Posted by Cobaltsoul on June 2, 2010 at 8:12 AM Comments comments (0)

Anyone who's been in leadership roles in the institutional church knows that a lot has been written and said in the last twenty years about The Vision of a congregation.  Most of it's absolute nonsense.  Many of the same ideas are common in books on business management.  That fact alone ought give the thoughtful Christian reason to pause before buying into the latest vision. 

There is only one vision for Christians - love people.  Not love them so they will join the church.  Not love them so they will confess Jesus.  Not love them so they will.... do whatever it is we think they should be doing.  

Love is the only reason to love. 

Any additional reason means it's not love we are talking about and not loving we are doing. 

Love people because they are people. 

Love people because that's how we want others to engage us. 

Love people because it is the only perfect gift we can give, even when our love is imperfect. 

Love people because loving joins us with the essential nature of God. 

Love people because when we love we discover what life is fundamentally about. 

There is only one vision, to love people. 

Pour out love like it's wine in a grape glut. 

Rain down love like a metaphysical monsoon season that lasts all year round. 

Pile love so high the tower of Babel conceedes defeat to this more worthy myth. 

Find so many ways to love that you forget more than you enact even when the doing takes a lifetime. 


What happens after that is between each person and God. 

Loving is the only vision. 



Leadership Corruption and The Prophetic.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 26, 2010 at 2:23 AM Comments comments (0)

The Jewish and the Christian traditions of spiritual community have at least one response to the reality of leadership power corrupting leaders.


Prophets were/are people, sometimes a whole group can have the same function,  who challenge the formal and informal leaders of a community about the motivations and effects of their exercise of power within and over a community.  They also hold the community responsible for what the community allows to become true of the life of the community, it's management, values, direction.

Prophets are rarely welcome, by either leadership or by the community.  Prophets do not allow the hidden to stay hidden, they make life difficult for everyone.   True prophets do not have self interest, or at least, their need or commitment to speaking truth is stronger than their self interest. 

Prophets need to stand "outside" the community because if they become a leader within the community they immediately are themselves subject to the corruptive power of now being a leader people think of as "one of us" but who is not.   Classic prophets are not seen by the community as "one of us", the classic prophet wields no influence, are not welcomed, are not rewarded.    Any prophet who is welcomed and rewarded for speaking prophetically, inevitably moves from prophet to false prophet.  They become just another of the power corrupted leaders in the community. 

Prophets can be corrupted by their role.  They can think they are always right, when in reality they are as likely to be wrong as right, to mistake their own likes and dislikes for perception of a larger Truth.  Prophets can fool themselves into thinking they like being isolated and maligned.   No healthy human enjoys being excluded from community.  Once the prophet denies the pain of their isolation they will start to adopt attitudes and behaviours that have nothing to do with any truth, that serve only to magnify the "magnificence" of their isolation and weirdness.  This prophet serves only the truth of how much they superficially enjoy their unique role as the Outside, the Rogue, the Mystery figure.

The more powerless the prophet the more chance their contributions will remain truly prophetic,  potentially genuinely insightful and corrective if considered humbly by community and leaders.

Think about it.


The Dialogue: What is Leadership Corruption?

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 26, 2010 at 2:02 AM Comments comments (0)

I've referred to the corrupting quality of power but have not described or defined what that corruption actually is.

This is my first shot at exploring that description.

People are what matters. 

The only root purpose worthy of pursuit is helping people enjoy life and enjoy it more deeply, more widely, more freely, more generously, more, more more LIFE for more, more, more PEOPLE.   

Just in case you misunderstood that,  I did not say "helping a person", it's a PEOPLE thing, plural, not individualistic. 

In terms of leading a community this root purpose equates to good, honest, healthy leadership being the leadership which produces the most life, quality and quantity, in the most inclusive way and mutually respectful way for the widest range of community members.

Power corrupts leadership in this way - people with power, formal or informal leaders,  immediately see themselves, consciously or unconsciously, as different to the community at large.  Hidden in that difference is the reality that these leaders start to pursue what is good for them rather than what is good for the community they now see themselves as different from.  It may be a small thing at first but it's a corruption, and it grows.  When you have more power than the community members generally have you immediately percieve yourself as different from the community and your goals likewise differentiate.

Soren Kierkegaard said that purity of the heart is to will one thing.  Power corrupts leadership because with power comes a second purpose, a purpose not fundamentally about helping the most community members enjoy the best quality of community life they can.  The second purpose flows from the fact that the leader(s) become, consciously or unconsciously, a community within the community and their first loyalty is to this smaller community.  They may deny it to themselves,  makes no difference,  the dynamic is psychologically inescapable.

Think about it.


Leadership: Formal and Informal.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 26, 2010 at 1:42 AM Comments comments (0)

If you've been in leadership and you've been paying attention you will have noticed that there are at least two categories of leadership.

Formal leadership - the official leader or leaders,  appointed by some sanctioned process and given clear powers with regard to community management and direction setting. 

Informal leadershp - people or groups that exert strong, consistent influence on what happens in the community (Management) and what direction the community moves.

The relationship between both categories often determines the politics of that community, and every communty has "politics".

Sometimes the informal leadership becomes, by a legitimate process, the formal leadership of the community.  That might sound like a good thing, sometimes, for a while, it is.  But, due to the corrupting quality of power, the increased power of being the formal leadership (While still having the power accrued as the informal leadership) quickly (Ironically) starts to erode the dynamics of that informal leadership credibility and influence and the reaction of most such leaders is then to focus further on the formal powers of influence they have which speeds up and magnifies the way that power warps them and corrupts them. 

More commonly the formal leadershp and the informal leadership are in competition for the influence within the community.  In this competition the formal leadership is actually at a disadvantage, everything they do they are accountable for, it's generally done in public view.  The informal leadership is not accountable to anyone except themselves, very often the members of the community don't really identify the informal leaders AS leaders.  They just think of them as "my friend" or "the guy who's been here from the start" or some such.  Because they are not seen as even informal leaders no-one measures their actions in terms of responsibility or accountability. 

Imagine for a moment the corruptive potential in that leadership process.  You can wield influence over this part of a group of people's lives, without ever being asked to explain yourself, justify your motives or your actions, you can have power in the shadows.  

Power corrupts formal and informal leadership in the same way.   If you are reading this and you are an informal leader, don't kid yourself  that your motives and processes are any cleaner than the formal leaders.  They are not. 

Think about it.


The Problem of Power and Leadership.

Posted by Cobaltsoul on May 16, 2010 at 12:46 AM Comments comments (0)

Power corrupts.  You've probably heard that idea before.  In it's classic formulation it is extended by the statement "...and absolute power corrupts absolutely." 

I think the first part of the statement can be tested by any honest human, we all have power of some kind somewhere at sometime in our lives, we are able to reflect on it and the effect it had on our thinking, our self awareness, our attitudes to others and our actions. 

If we are honest we will see, power bends us out of True. 

This is a problem for anyone who believes that creating community is a primary human goal and meets a fundamental human need.  

Communities do not exist without leadership.  The nature of that leadership can be very diverse but the fact that it IS leadership cannot be avoided.  In any community some people will accrue more power than others. 

That process might be legitimate and transparent or it might be covert.  Even if the process of someone accruing leadership influence and power is legitimate the effect on them is still going to be corruptive. 

I'm going to have to write several blogs about this idea as I've made statements without giving examples or arguments at this point.  So consider this blog as "dot points" on this particular issue.  These blog entries are going to be "quick and dirty", what you might call "old school" blogging, thinking on the run, no concern for finesse or seamless integration of all the parts. 

It says in Philippians chapter 2 that in Jesus God chose to become empty and powerless and we are urged to do likewise. 

So there is the problem, if we want to nurture a community of people enjoying the love of God how do you do this without the corrupting effect of leadership power bending people out of shape? 

The Christian tradition, in the stories of the Old and New Testament is full of leaders, leadership is inevitable.  Corruption of those leaders is inevitable.  If I'm correct that's a pretty lousy situation to deal with. 

So, how do we deal with it?