I read an article on church leadership a few weeks ago, in connection with a lectionary reading on Moses, and found it so interesting that I sent it on to a friend of mine who trains leaders for non-profit organizations (churches, associations, etc.), expecting agreement. Instead, he said he didn't agree with everything the writer said, and asked what I thought.
OK, now I was on the spot. This friend was in my systematic theology study group; we has wrestled with some big questions together, I know how he thinks (extremely well!) and he had challenged me.
What I came up with was this. My main issue as a leader (and the pastor/senior pastor is the leader of the church, regardless of theory), especially as a leader of a church, is my concern with listening to God, to what God wants for the church. Not what I want or the Board of Administration wants or the church hierarchy wants, or really even what the members want--but what God wants. So I want to distinguish between God's voice and my own inner voice, or the pressures of the politics of the church. At the same time, God does speak through others, and even through that still small voice in my own soul. It is a humbling and daunting task to try to listen for what God has in mind for my sermon this week, let alone what God's plan for the church's next year might be. Moses had no doubt he was hearing God's voice--not only did he have that burning bush, but God told him--"I am the God of your ancestors, of Abraham and Jacob." How do we tell when we're standing on holy ground, when we are hearing God's voice and not our ambition or the fears of church members or the hopes of the church headquarters?
I was called to lead God's people. My response, like Moses, initially was, "God. You've got the wrong person." But with time I learned that, of course, God was right and I was wrong... Eventually, I learned that I had been standing on holy ground. How can we learn to do that on a regular basis, and in the here and now, not in retrospect?
I don't have an answer for that. I'm still looking for that burning bush...