Ever since I read Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s Leadership from Inside Out, I have urged every minister I could button-hole to read it as well. My attraction to the book can be summed-up in its subtitle: “Spirituality and Organizational Change.” Sometimes in direct ways, but more often in subtle ways, it takes on our present day penchant for “top-down” leadership in religious institutions.
At the heart of any lasting change for the better in one’s leadership style is close attention to one’s own spirituality.
Most top-down-type leaders have by now memorized the lingo of a more effective collegial or collaborative leadership style, but their actions continue to be top-down. In other words, too often they “talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk.” Granberg-Michaelson is on to this. He had the insight to see it in himself. He is the General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America. Before that, he was a top executive with the World Council of Churches and a member of its Executive Committee. Before you begin to think of him as perched in some ivory tower, note that the foreword of his book was written by Jim Wallis, hardly an ivory-tower type.
He sees that at the heart of any lasting change for the better in one’s leadership style is close attention to one’s own spirituality. He does not harp on this in the manner we have come to expect from “religious” types. It is, however, an obvious, constant undercurrent in every process in which he involves himself. It has to do with values, with how we live with ourselves, with consistently asking ourselves, “What is presently defining my life?”
Granberg-Michaelson writes, “For pastors in particular, establishing a safe place of trust, whether with…a [small]group or with a spiritual director or counselor, seems indispensable to the practice of trustworthy ministry.” Jim Wallis hears Granberg-Michaelson saying it this way, “In the end, it is better to understand yourself than to force others around you to keep trying to figure you out! And self-knowledge requires a spiritual journey.” Wesley Granberg-Michaelson shares his journey with you, and before you know it you are sharing yours as well. It is a trip worth taking.