Recalibrating Church: Part 3...

Recalibrating Church: Continued...


Dr. MaryKate Morse approached the podium on crutches. She starts, “I had planned on doing an interpretive dance, but I can’t.” Good line. She later contends that Len Sweet has volunteered to take her place as the featured dancer. He looks horrified...

Morse begins talking about her book Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence, introducing it as a recalibration of the concept of power. She uses the example of kids playing in a sandbox to begin: “no matter how much fun all of the kids are having, some other kid comes in and takes it on themselves to smash what everyone has been building. Why does that happen? How does that happen in the church? I think it has to do with Power.”

She continues, “the problem is, we have a hard time getting along with each other. We can talk about theory and think about things, but we need to get our heads around power. Make this organic community a place where it really can thrive!”

Dr. Morse discusses some myths about power:
Leadership is embodied in a person whose words and behaviors influence others…

I was at this board meeting, and there were all these leaders from other churches and denominations... 16 people there… We worked two hours on this local community problem… We got to a conclusion on how to approach the problem, got up to break, and just then another pastor showed up. He said, “I’m so sorry I’m late!”

“And everyone was sort of ‘buzzed’ about him being there. He said, ‘Well catch me up, what have you talked about?” So they caught him up. And he said, ‘Well, I wouldn’t have done it that way.’ Suddenly the whole group shifted and went his way. All of the resolve went away! Everything we’d talked about! Why would one person come in last minute and shift everything?”

Morse went on: “When everyone finally took a break, I decided to ask him, ‘did you see what just happened here?’ No. He didn’t see. ‘Well, we already had a decision and then you came in and you changed it.’ I asked, ‘How do you manage that in your soul?’ He didn’t answer that. Leadership isn’t a thing that someone brings in. It’s an energy. Everyone in that room disregarded the group’s experience and work, and turned on a dime toward that leader. The group was part of the power process by allowing it. Mesmerized. They decided what he thought was more important than anything else. We get trapped in this thinking."

"Power is a corrupting thing," Morse said. "Jesus Christ came, embodied in the flesh, and he was powerful. People gave power to him. Power is neither good nor bad – it’s the ability to cause or prevent change. You have to have power in order to influence. There is stewardship with the use of power. That stewardship belongs to the group – to prevent the abuse of power."

"Luke 7: Jesus, Simon and the sinner woman. Jesus receives the woman’s love. In that experience Jesus allows her access to his space – his power. And it becomes redemptive. "

"There’s plenty of power – enough to go around."

"We think we somehow DESERVE our 'share' of power. We have an unlimited goods economy in our culture: there’s “enough” of everything. And we’re suffering from this perverted notion. We use power to consume.In Biblical times, there was a LIMITED Goods culture. There WASN’T enough to go around. It was the responsibility of those with more to share and make sure those with less were provided for. Hospitality was normative. This is the same notion we should bring to power. We should cultivate and understand how to use power. The group should talk about it because the group constituted it. But we have to think of it in terms of hosting others. We can have a “sandbox experience” – if you have power, make sure everyone gets to play and have fun.”

Very nice presentation. Dr. Morse was spot on.

Q&A from Audience:

My friend Jim Henderson ( was there in the audience. He got up and said: "Leadership is an activity, not a role. Please comment. Also, please comment on why men don’t understand power."

Morse answered: "Men are naturally given power because they take up more space. They’re larger, stronger, more comfortable socially. In our culture we tend to give men more access to influence." She also made a funny comment about the panel she was a part of. She asked, "Who grabs our attention first, as we enter the room? Len Sweet! He's tall. He's got a deep booming voice. He's impressive looking!" And she was right - Len WAS the most striking and "impressive" of the group.

I asked how men can defer or redirect power back to women without appearing patronizing or even re-affirming my own masculine power.

She said to ask individual women how I (we, men) can share power and give more authority back to them.


AbiSomeone said...

Hello, Peter. Rick Meigs and I were there and thought your question to Dr. Morse was a good one. I've spent years processing issues of power and the women/men deal.

I'm still looking for time to read Dr. Morse's book....

As I sat at dinner with Lance and Alan, we talked about this and the superficial nature of the perception about big and tall and loud. I mentioned to Alan that one of the things that makes his effective, for me, is that one must listen carefully to understand the accent and to hear the quiet voice.

This is one of the things that women can learn from, IMO.

Is there a part four coming?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have yet to get my note together, but I will....


Peter said...

Thanks Abi!
Yes, part 4 is coming. I'm on vacation this week, and struggling to keep up with posts ;)

You make an interesting point about accents. I know I have seen very different approaches to youth ministry. Some youth pastors try to dominate the group environment to be heard. Others quietly and gently speak, and those who wish to listen do. Those who don't... well, it seems that eventually, the quiet spirit always won out. Most people don't like feeling like they're 'missing' something.

I wonder if women can use that same approach without appearing submissive.

Qwin said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Popular Posts