Comunidad and Leadership
I just recently finished reading Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus. In it he talked about different temptations Christian leaders face. The one that stuck out to me had to do with what Nouwen called the temptation of “individual heroism”. He talked of how individualism was not just a secular value but one we see in the church as well. Ministers and priests often view ministry as something done alone, and the temptation is to want to be successful through their own self-efforts. He contrasted that with saying, in actuality, that ministry was meant to be communal and mutual.
The word communal resonated with me because it is a word we use often when describing the identity of Destino. As Latinos, we are less individualistic in our thinking and living, so the way we designed leadership in Destino was intentionally set up to be in community as well. We decided Bible studies would be led by two co-leaders, male and female, and that the small groups would be called “familias”. The goal was to help students not view ministry as something done in isolation but alongside others. We knew family was a high value among Latinos, so we modeled our leadership structure around that as well. After reading Nouwen’s thoughts, I’m now convinced this model not only fits the culture, but also helps combat the natural pull and temptation of individual “popularity” and “stardom”.
The second word mentioned in the chapter as important in Christian leadership was mutuality, which had to do with leaders being active participants in their community. The temptation was for leaders to remain distant and aloof from those they were called to lead believing that was the best way to minister. Nouwen challenged Christian leaders to instead view themselves as broken people who needed depth of relationships in community just as much as anyone else they were ministering to.
Because the concept of communal ministry is embedded in Destino naturally, I believe we have a unique role we can play in leadership formation when it comes to this idea of mutuality. As we raise up leaders in Destino I want to teach them that not only is leading not meant to be done individually, but that being vulnerable in the community you’re leading is just as essential in ministry too. I want us to capitalize on the natural strengths of our movement and take it further to include this view of leadership as being mutual as well. Nouwen claimed that Jesus wanted us to minister to others as “vulnerable brothers and sisters who know and are known, who care and are cared for, who forgive and are being forgiven, who love and are being loved”. This could be a powerful picture we offer to the body of Christ as we live this out in Destino. I pray we’ll be a place of vulnerable leaders that reflect the love of God in comunidad.
photo courtesy: obraprima