The metaphor of an elephant has often been used to define Leadership. While some people may look at the tail, others are fascinated by the trunk or the large ears and yet, others who have touched its thick skin have focused their understanding on it. This is not an “either/or” description, as the elephant has all of these parts. How about leadership as a role, a position, a relationship, an influence, etc.? Leadership Pillars offer an amazing opportunity to revisit our understanding of leadership and related issues and to reposition ourselves as God’s agents in the world in this era. And, doing it in the framework of a transformative journey makes it even more exciting!
“Rather than a leadership training event, it is an invitation to a journey of exploration, essentially focused on the person, attitudes and behaviours instead of knowledge and skills. It offers participants an experiential opportunity to interact, learn and sharpen one another in community.”Michel Kenmogne
As SIL reflected a few years back on how to remain worthy agents of God or, on how to do like the sons of Issachar who understood the times and knew what to do, four main perspectives became important to consider and embrace: Spiritual Formation, Leadership Understanding, Organizational Awareness and Missiological Alignment. They turned out to be 4 key pillars for effective leadership within SIL, and those 4 pillars gave their name to the events wherein they are discussed. So if a colleague or friend said they were going to a 4 Pillars event, then they were going to a meeting that is community-based, participatory, diverse and multi-generational, as well as global in focus.
Here they would meet other folks so that together, they can reflect on and discuss these four important issues facing SIL and the mission world, and later support one another in implementing what they agreed on.
The global ministry is in a crucible season. So, the polycentric nature of SIL and the ministries SIL is engaged in are key factors in determining what course leadership pillars need to take henceforth. Recently, owing to new observations and unpredictable situations worldwide, further reflections resulted in the need to expand the list of issues SIL should consider in order to remain relevant in God’s hand across the world. These new Global Insights include creation care, globalization, MUSE, etc.
Overview of Five Leadership Pillars
Spiritual formation: increasing dependence on God and building a life pace that allows us to hear God more, focus on Him more than on competencies, skills or other blessings He has given us, and be able to face mission and leadership challenges.
Leadership Understanding: being aware of the complexity, unpredictability and chaotic nature of the world today and understand that people are more open to conversational and collaborative leadership approaches wherein the leader walks alongside them, than to traditional leadership models of individual heroic leadership.
Organisational Awareness: understanding who we are as SIL, what we value and care about, and in what ways we can remain relevant in our service to others so that the realities that are peculiar to us are kept in check.
Missiological Alignment: growing in the understanding that mission belongs to God and He is at work in it; then discerning in what ways God is at work, what part He has assigned to SIL and lead accordingly.
Global Insights: there are a growing number of global issues which present-day leaders in SIL need to be informed about as they affect or determine life around and among us. Example topics are the subconscious narratives or stories that shape us, managing multiple identities, or embracing diversity while upholding unity, and the planet in danger.
More About Leadership Pillars
Explaining why these leadership perspectives are important, Dr. Michel Kenmogne, SIL Executive Director, said this is an orientation program for all SIL leaders – new and existing, which seeks to foster the mind-set that allows us to approach leadership as a place of personal transformation and journey with God. It also aims to prepare SIL leaders to serve in an increasingly diverse and complex environment… and helps us function as a healthy vibrant community. In an organisation where people from different cultures, generations and other backgrounds live, serve and lead together, and desire to do it in a God-honouring way, this appears to be critical.
Leadership Pillars have so far been presented to the ELT and in each of our three zones, in four-day face-to-face meetings. Rather than a leadership training event, it is an invitation to a journey of exploration, essentially focused on the person, attitudes and behaviours instead of knowledge and skills.
It offers participants an experiential opportunity to interact, learn and sharpen one another in community. Prior to the event, participants carry out preparatory activities. During the event, there are short presentations and many table group discussions during which participants engage with the topics being shared. Those discussions are important moments of knowing one another, learning from one another, and building relationships that continue beyond the event as peer groups are formed for ongoing cross-fertilisation.
Past Leadership Pillars (4 Pillars) Events
- ELT & Other Leaders: March 2018 in Germany
- West Zone: November 2018 in Peru, January 2020 in Peru
- Central Zone: January 2019 in Kenya, October 2019 in Germany, February 2020 in Cameroon
- East Zone: October 2018 in Thailand, March 2019 in Indonesia, November 2019 in PNG, December 2019 in Thailand
For every event that has taken place, participants’ feedback and testimonies have given a sense that these conversations (around who SIL is, why SIL exists today, what SIL should keep doing and how) are timely and relevant.