FAITH…AS COMMUNICATED CONFIDENCE. . .

Be faithful in small things…-Mother Teresa

Greenleaf writes: …faith might be viewed as communicated confidence that a mutually agreed-upon goal can be reached and is worth achieving, and that builds the sustaining will to persevere…

…part of the religious leader’s own faith is trust in his or her own inner resources.  If one is to take the risks of leadership (and all significant leadership entails venturing and risk-taking), one needs to trust one’s inner resources, in the situation, to give the guidance one needs to justify the trust of followers.  …One has confidence that after one is launched in the venture, the way will be illuminated. 

…For faith as trust to be real…it suffices that the inner resources of the leader are known by both leader and follower to be dependable.    

Given Greenleaf’s first statement today, consider how many leaders you know (perhaps including yourself as ‘leader’) who communicate confidence?  How many have joined with those who have freely chosen to follow a ‘mutually agreed upon goal;’ one that they believe is truly ‘worth achieving’?  How many ‘communicated confidences’ actually sustain the individual and collective will to persevere?   How often do leaders and those who freely choose to follow lack the ‘will to persevere’?  Now, how many leaders and followers embrace all of these aspects at the same time?  Greenleaf suggests that ‘faith’ is rooted in the whole of the statement (this, for Greenleaf, is not ‘blind faith’).

Now, how often does the Leader ‘trust’ in his or her ‘own inner resources’?  How often does the Leader consciously develop and sustain ‘inner resources’?  Greenleaf does not ‘name’ these inner resources which means that each Leader must discern these for him/herself; this alone can be a daunting challenge.

Developing one’s inner resources is one step; learning to trust them is even more challenging.  These inner resources are to help the Leader ‘take the risks’ and take them in such a way that the ‘trust of followers’ is enhanced.  Leadership, as I view it, is a by-product of the relationship between the Leader and those who freely choose to follow AND this relationship is rooted in and is sustained by ‘trust.’  How many Leader-Led relationships do you know, gentle reader that are truly rooted in and sustained by ‘trust’?

At the time of writing these words Greenleaf was a Quaker.  One of the gifts the Quakers have given us is the gift of ‘way opening.’

This idea of ‘way opening’ surfaces when Greenleaf writes that ‘after the venture is launched, the way will be illuminated.’  That is, the ‘way will open.’  A key, of course, is for the Leader to be open to ‘way opening’ and then to be able to discern ‘the way.’  ‘Way does not stay open’ for a long period of time and this is where faith and trust enter – it often requires faith and trust to not only discern ‘way opening’ but to then take the risk of stepping into the way.

This is not a new idea; the Taoists thousands of years ago offered us a concept of ‘The Way.’  Almost all of the great faith-traditions have a concept of ‘the way.’  So, given all of the thousands of years and the many iterations of ‘the way’ it makes sense, to me anyway, to pay attention to this concept.

Greenleaf concludes this short piece with another challenge: the Leader shares his/her inner resources with those who freely choose to follow.  This helps build ‘faith’ and ‘trust.’  It also provides a ‘model’ for the led; a model of ‘faith’ and ‘trust,’ one that they might choose to embrace.

Faith is a state to grow into. –Gandhi

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