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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

The meaning of leadership

What sort of leader are you being called and equipped to be? What does it mean to be a Christian public leader? What does it mean to provide leadership in a congregation and/or community?

There are all sorts of books being written about leadership. Again and again, in classes and in conversations, you engage the topic of leadership. You learn varying styles or modes of leadership. You try to ascertain what your particular gifts/strengths/capacities might be, and how that will impact the way you live out leadership in your call.

Over the years, I've discovered that I can serve God and God's people in some ways, and then there are other areas of ministry for which I am not particularly gifted or inclined. I trust you will continue to discover similar realities in your life, and in your vocational formation.

Like most people, there are particular styles of leadership that appeal to me. There are some leaders with whom I work well. There are some challenges that yield to my gifts and proclivities. And then there are those other arenas.

But there is one powerful, pervasive descriptor for pastoral leadership. More than any other kind of leadership, we who seek to serve in Word & Sacrament (or Word & Service) are called to be Servant Leaders.

You have probably seen that combination of words in this newsletter from time to time; you have probably heard that combination from me and others along the way. You and I are called to be servant leaders.

What does it mean to be a servant leader? Well, I'd be happy to spend some time talking about that. However, I have a better idea: If you did not happen to hear (in person or on the Luther website) the chapel sermon by Dr. David Preus on Friday, October 15th, find a friend or colleague, click on the chapel service, and listen. Dr. Preus is now 88 years old. He spent much of his career in the ecclesiastical equivalent of the limelight. At heart, he is a servant leader, and his sermon is a marvelous, gracious reminder of what it means to live as a pastoral servant leader.

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