DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Leadership and the supernatural

Written by: on March 14, 2014

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The title of this piece kept rolling in my fore front of my mind as I read MaryKate Morse’s book Making Room for Leadership, power, space and influence. There is a plethora of literature on leadership on the market and shelves, some of which I have consulted and others not yet; but I was captivated by Morse’s ability to discuss leadership from a physical and practical angle. In the book, a reader is further presented with the leadership forces of space, power and use of body language among other elements. I am here concerned with the issue of power and how it plays a major role in leadership development. Of power MaryKate writes:

Power is constituted between persons in a group through myriads of little body cues and instinctual decisions. Power, which gives an individual or a group the right to influence, is created through the small decisions groups make about who will be entrusted with the leadership baton and who will not. Leaders are not simply born or made. Leadership is an intricate dance between potential leaders and their followers so that power is group-made[1]

After reflecting on the description of power provided above, I am encouraged to be on the lookout for the body cues of leadership that aid decision making processes. Morse does an impressive job showing that “leadership is a physical and social process. It is how you enter a room, position yourself to speak, modulate your voice and use your eyes…” [2] This triggered a sense of self evaluation.

Yet as a student of leadership and global perspectives with a multicultural background, I also realize that spaces and contexts vary. For instance, in the United States the belief in the project of Western democracy is strongly at play and highly esteemed. Additionally, it is generally a common understanding that one’s identity is tied to a person’s socioeconomic status, and whether an individual belongs to the majority or minority culture. I am frankly tickled by the “intricate dance” and how it happens in social settings both locally and globally.

I have gained a lot of interest in the electoral processes of leaders in churches, school and the governments. The nature of an entirely visual and analytical Western democratic approach to power and leadership provokes a lot of curiosity in me, since I have experienced other power and leadership traditions. One African theologian reveals:

Imbedded within the traditional African belief in the spirits are the hidden and the unseen powers and mysteries. They may not be explained, but their visible and unseen activities are acknowledged and believed. These unseen powers and mysteries are alien and active. The dominant presence of the se unseen a mysterious power has a very powerful grip and bears implications for leadership in African societies. The theological implications of this religious belief lies in its total grip on traditional Africans and their conception of the realities of these unseen and hidden powers and mysteries which generate dread at time and a sense of security. The traditional African religious practices, behavior and attitudes to life reflect very much this theology of the unseen and the mysterious powers.[3]

Morse rightly points out the need for believers to “….revive their investment in the health of the church and the concerns of God’s kingdom in the World.”[4] However, does everyone in the kingdom have a visual orientation about authority and leadership? Where is room and space for the unseen? In Uganda, there are wide held beliefs in the supernatural protection over the lives of warlords who claim social justice causes and are involved in pacts with cults whose divinities are unseen. What does a gospel and biblical approach offer to such theological core values in Uganda? Is power always in the eyes of the beholder? Could the look at power from a physical point of view be only one perspective among many others? Or is power in the feet of those involved in the intricate dance? In the case of” Ben”[5] who the author mentions, what should he have done after a failed attempt to discuss leadership with the Pastor who showed signs of the “big man” syndrome? How about Morse’s story about her fellow speaker who reminded her that he was the main speaker and she was a “workshop presenter”[6]? This is not a road to the superficial tactics of “blaming the devil”, but could there be any possibility of the unseen at play that led to the disrespect of Ben and MaryKate by their counterparts?

To answer such questions, Morse provides an inclusive perspective when she writes, “In order to work together, to be truly linked by ligaments and sinews, each member of the body must see himself or herself as an influencing member. Each of us has a responsibility to be influencers in God’s kingdom…”[7]

I would also add the need for an all inviting and inclusive consideration of an intercultural discernment that addresses certain cultural dispositions which have high regard for the paranormal experiences of physical life. I am hesitant about the mere appearance of super spiritual attitudes which can be a put off. But at the same time, the unseen factor is real and the scriptures warn that the issue of power which is not divorced for the human experience is a deeply supernatural one at its core. Case in point, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”[8] Another reminder is, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”[9]

 


[1 MaryKate Morse, Making Room For Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2008), 16.

[2] Ibid., 25.

[3] Yusufu Turaki. Christianity And African Gods: A method in theology. (Nairobi, Kenya: Potchefstroom University for Chiristian Higher Education, 1999.), 111.

[4] MaryKate Morse, Making Room For Leadership: Power, Space and Influence (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books, 2008), 32.

[5] Ibid., 22.

[6] Ibid., 25.

[7] Ibid., 32.

[8] Zechariah 4:6

[9] Ephesians 6:12

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Michael Badriaki

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