Inspire a Collective Purpose

A Leadership Principle of Kansas Leadership Center is “Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere” with or without a position of authority. For example – within the FISH SS class someone offered an act of leadership by speaking out with their idea/vision of providing meals for children in our community who may not have adequate access otherwise. Once that idea was embraced by the class, they knew it would take more than just their own resources to successfully make this ministry happen; they had to do the work of inspiring a collective purpose!

Inspire a collective purpose is another part of the KLC competency Energize Others. Both common sense and strategic planning know the value of this element of leadership – “many hands make light work” is a phrase all of us know (and have probably said ourselves). But in a sea of competing values and priorities that seem to get in the way of each other, the task of inspiring a collective purpose becomes more challenging. (Way to go, FISH, for showing us that it can be done!)

There are examples in the Bible of people doing the hard and sometimes unpopular work of inspiring a collective purpose. One particular account is from Acts 10-11. The Jewish Christians were still divided from Gentiles at this time. Yet Peter, a Jewish Christian, decided to act upon a belief that God was breaking down that wall. When he encountered the other leaders who were critical of his actions, he had several options – he could admit he was wrong and ‘get back in line’ with them; he could sever ties to them and go his own way; he could work to inspire a new collective purpose among all of them. As we see in chapter 11, he opted for the third option, appealing to the new thing God was doing.

How does one inspire a collective purpose in an atmosphere where there is no external authority as the reason for a particular decision or direction? Or where different factions appeal to the same authority for different outcomes?

In our current environment, we likely have to work across several or many factions. But within the faith community, we have the gift of God’s guiding spirit to aid in our unity and to inspire vision and purpose. Like Peter, may we listen to God and each other as we discern and pursue our collective purpose.

-- Todd Lehman