Kirk Braddan

The Vicar's Letter

From the June issue of Branch, the Kirk Braddan parish magazine


With all the ongoing hoo-ha about the UK and Europe, one casualty of the issue (other than Theresa Mary) is the word 'leadership'.

Frequently banded round by those who simply want a 'leader' to do as they are told, 'leadership' is misunderstood as well as misused. In Theresa May's case, though there have been questionable decisions, there are not many people who have determinedly stood their ground while being roundly betrayed. A biblical symbol if ever there was one.

When the results of the European elections came in, it was worrying to discover some people think the best quality of a leader is simply doing what we want. Such is the language of those guaranteeing certain things with great clarity despite it being a problem of tremendous human complexity.

When you drill into their guarantees and ask difficult questions, you find the ones making these arguments twist and turn just to get your vote. That is not leadership, it is political sliminess.

A true leader will not do what you want, but show you the path which needs to be trod. It is then up to you to trust that path and respond by following. If your response is to fight them, they are not your leader by your own decision. But if you do follow, it is a co-operative relationship where the direction is something you work towards together. You let the leader guide you, and if the path has bumps you assess the journey together. You do not simply follow someone who smiles convincingly or who agrees with you. Because then both of you will fall off the cliff.

For some reason, the world cannot bring itself to stop looking at bad models of 'leadership'. Its understanding is so backward it cannot turn itself around. So it needed to receive a greater model than the frail, selfish, short-term human one.

God's model of leadership does not make big noise which deflates when the hard questions are asked. God's model of leadership does not make bold statements which cannot be carried out, followed by excuses and the blaming of others. God's leadership is the quiet determination, undeterred from resolving havoc by burrowing deep to the cracked foundations and repairing them. God's leadership is the lonely one, where the rats abandoned the ship without realising the captain had fixed the leak and was personally bailing the water out as it sails towards safe harbour.

God's leadership empties the bins when everyone has gone home. So that when they return the next day, those who left the job to someone else might learn and do it instead.

God is the chair-stacker and the one who switches the lights off at the end of the day. So that those who enjoyed the party might learn and offer to clear up at the next one.

Such models of leadership are the unsung ones for which we must always be grateful. They are not self-publicised but happen because they have to. Christ was abandoned as a leader because he wasn't what was expected by the world. But in his unexpectedness he proved his way to be the true one: not self-interested or self-promoting, but resolute in healing the divisions we ourselves cannot heal.

The quiet, determined leader, undaunted and unafraid of betrayal, abandonment or the impatience of the difficult-to-please, who sees the path we need to tread and holds out a hand, asking us to trust and follow him.

God bless