Imagine that your best friends invited you and your partner to go on a cruise. They have booked your tickets, taken care of accommodations on the ship, and promised that it will be an experience you will be delighted to have. The only catch is that you are not allowed to know where you are going. You will be traveling for two weeks. You will need to guess what to pack. You will not know who else might be present. But they are earnestly delighted to have you as traveling partners. Would you, could you, in good conscience get on that ship? You might be curious, but also in need of more information. The lack of clarity in vision might affect your willingness to go on the trip.
Likewise, when leaders are unable to articulate clarity of vision, followers are not willing to live into their prescribed role. No matter the outcome of a vision that is cast, it is the casting and requisite articulation that is critical. Leaders must be bold and trustworthy. Followers must be inspired and trusting. The task of leading over eight hundred people in the venue of General Convention is not to be envied, but deserves deliberate attention. Those who have been attending, and perhaps serving on appointed legislative committees, have experienced the ungainly, gawky, antiquated proceedings of this convention. On more than one occasion, committee meetings have not started on time, those running the meetings are unable to work the technology, and committee members do not seem aware of how they are to contribute possible amendments to proposed resolutions. It has taken several days for many committees to get up and running.
Various legislative committees at this convention are made up of 28, 42, and 26 members. That is the number of students in a public elementary school classroom, almost half the number of individuals in the United States Senate, and the entire roster of a child’s soccer team. Without an experienced teacher, a stern majority leader, or an inspiring coach, none of those gaggles could possibly achieve what they set out to accomplish. In other words, each group suffers from the danger of being too large to cohesively deliberate and make a decision about anything without someone at the helm of the ship to give clear instructions. General Convention is not immune from this dilemma, as has been on display this week. It is a law of nature. If we cross over the critical tipping point, too many humans gathered together in one place can make a mess of just about anything. That’s why the leader who is willing to chose a direction, chart a course, and lead her people there is critical. Whether it’s the individuals in our deputations, the committee chairs, or the House of Bishops, we need to hold one another to a higher standard.
We spend a lot of time making sure that every opinion, every deputation, every province has received adequate representation. But if that is all we focus on, it inhibits our ability to boldly choose a way forward. This is not only about General Convention. But perhaps General Convention is a microcosm of the larger vacuum of leadership we currently experience. We are getting in our own way. Returning to the original invitation, if we are the ones inviting our brothers and sisters to come on board the ship, we must be able to share with them the vision of where we are headed. We must be able to articulate why we are worth their time, energy, and soul.