Monday, April 02, 2007

Leadership and Boundaries

One of the most important tasks of leaders is to define boundaries in which followers and organizations can live and operate. There is an increasing misconception that "no-boundaries" are the stuff of cutting-edge leadership, thus leaders are no longer held accountable to any standard of truth, integrity or holiness. David Steindl-Rast offers this perspective: "Our lives have many structures - our jobs, our families - because it's only within limits that anything meaningful can happen. If all possibilities were available at all moments, if there were no limits, no boundaries, no definitions, we'd be lost. People mistakenly think that happiness comes from removing all limits."
The early Christian Monastic Leaders provided boundaries for their followers by constructing "rules of life" based on the Scriptures. These ancient spiritual rules might look like a long list of requirements and legalism to the casual reader, but their real purpose and vitality lied in providing a moral context in which authentic Christian Leadership could occur. Henri Nouwen comments on the power of these rules:"Instead of giving us methods to control, direct, and determine our own life, a spiritual rule wants to offer an open and free space within and among us where God can touch us with His loving presence. It wants to make it possible for us not so much to find God as to be found by God, not so much to love God as be loved by God." In our search for authentic Christian Leadership we might have to think and consider what a spiritual rule of Christian leadership could look like.
Further Reading:
Steindl-Rast, D. (1995). The Music of Silence. San Francisco: Harper.
Nouwen, H. (1986). Rule for a New Brother. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.