“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Monday, January 15, 2018

Be a thought leader

The term "thought leader" has come into vogue and is often used to describe someone who is providing leadership in the way that people think about things. If you search the term, there are lots of ideas or recommendations about how you can be a thought leader in your particular area of expertise.

In the area of disability ministry, if you are attempting to lead the ministry of a local church, you must do the work to become a thought leader. You need to understand the why of what you do. If someone were to ask you a question, you must have a response that indicates that you have thought it through. If you are unsure of how to respond to a particular question, it could mean that you have more investigation to do. Not every question has an answer, but if you want to lead others in the changes that ministry to persons with disabilities will bring, you need to have a response. And there are people available who will give you input about how to answer specific questions if you will only ask.

People don't know what to do when it comes to including persons with disabilities in the church. Sometimes because they haven't thought through the issues sufficiently, they can lead a group of people in an entirely wrong direction. I would argue that segregated ministries reveal a lack of thought. I would argue that age inappropriate ministry reveals a lack of thought.

We may have a vision that is not entirely attainable at the moment. I do! But we still must work toward the changes that need to come to achieve that vision. Sometimes thoughts lead behavior and sometimes behavior leads thought. I might tell you something that can influence your behavior. But I might also give you an experience that will change your thoughts and behavior.

I have mentioned before in this blog how I bring adult friends with intellectual disabilities to some of my university classes. I interview them briefly and then just facilitate my students having a meal and conversation with the folks. At the end of the evening they tell me how so many of their preconceived ideas were changed just with a friendly interaction over a meal. No scripted questions, nothing orchestrated other than people chatting together over a meal. This is just one way to provide thought leadership without a sermon or list of readings. If you understand the ways that change can occur, you facilitate those ways. But once again, questions will come back to you and you need to have done the requisite work to respond in a way that guides people. That is thought leadership.


1 comment:

Connection Ministries said...

Jeff, I was just introduced to your blog and landed on this post on thought leadership. I entirely agree on the need to understand the "why" behind our activity, and if you don't have an answer to a question, more investigation is needed. I would add, more prayer seeking wisdom. In James 1:5 (NIV), “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” God will lead us to the answers to our questions.

I would argue with your firm statement, "I would argue that segregated ministries reveal a lack of thought... " I have found great value in the segregated model as long as the vision includes a good mix of members from the church with their friends with IDD as an incubator for building relationships that become a catalyst to connect friends with disabilities deeper into the congregation as appropriate for each individual. The danger is becoming trapped in the first step and never moving on to deeper relationships and further integration. I too have a vision with areas that may be unattainable in a fallen world, but by providing the churches we work with, quality statements and suggested activities that facilitate moving towards these ideals of quality, we find nuggets of progress that are worth praising God! This subject of quality has been a burden on my heart that consumes much thoughts and prayer. We hope to post our list of core values and quality statement to our website over the next month.

I will certainly revisit this blog. Thank you for your work!