Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Missional Leadership Lessons #1

A missional experience is a great context for leadership development. With that tenet in mind, I am starting this will be a series of posts (maybe only 1) about missional leadership lessons. I'm also using this as a rough draft for some stuff for the summer of 2006.

Lesson #1 - Student mission leaders need to embrace a fluid and dynamic context.
Every experience this summer was fluid. It was constantly changing and required an embrace of being dynamic. Personally, this is rather difficult for me. I like having a plan, of knowing what lies ahead, having the details. So much for what I like. I was delayed for 4 hours flying into AZ, arriving finally at around 3.30amEST. My team was delayed by 24 hours flying from DC to Brasil. In Brasil, every single day was different. Three groups of people lived in three different locations and plans were modified based on what would work best for our overall mission - mission clarifies. Every student knew that they had to be mobile. Every leader knew that they had to support the team being mobile - they had all the emergency info, passport copies, etc with them at all times. We could be anywhere at any time, the mall, the movies, a soccer game, someone's house having tea, whatever. In a little over a week, I spent nights in SC, GA, AZ, MD and PA. That is my backpack, a good friend that I have had for over 15 years. It's symbolic of this idea - you can move quickly because things are fluid and changing, based on the mission.

Nobody usually gives us the freedom to be so dynamic. There are not many contexts that would allow you to change plans at the last minute, decide to spend a little more time here or there because of a gentle nudging of something mystical, or abandon a well-proven plan for something more engaging or creative or experimental. In many ways, fluid and dynamic situations can be a lot more fun but only when leaders embrace the unknown in the right way. Like I wrote in a post before, when circumstances are out of your control, you don't bear the responsibility for them anymore.

A few follow up ideas:
- How do we 'teach' or model this idea to future leaders?
- What are some of the best ways we as leaders can engage and embrace this concept, even when it is personally difficult? How can I grow in this area?
- Like I mentioned above, each leader had a copy of everyone's important papers, including a copy of their passport and visa, emergency contact info and medical identification and history. This ensured that our team could be split easily and quickly and that no one had to rummage around to get the right paperwork in order, in the small chance that there was an accident.
- I brought that backpack everywhere. But I realized there might be times when it was too much. From now on, I'm also going to bring a gymsack like this too. You can always pack stuff in here and put it all in your backpack, etc. (Specifically, there was a time when our luggage was at the airport and we had to lock our carry ons in the hotel. But I still needed to carry some minimal stuff and didn't have a bag.)

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