In groups and organisations, we need people who can help us with how we’re going. This is a particular kind of leadership that cares about the emotional state and internal condition of the people. In church parlance, we might call this the ‘pastoral care’ function. It’s care for our mob, our community. Maybe in other contexts it’s the HR department!
We also need people who can assist us work out where we are going. What’s going on in the big wide outside world, and how do we fit in that? Some churches would call this the ‘prophetic’ role. These are the movers and shakers that make sure we’re fulfilling our group’s mission and challenge us when we’re not.
The ‘how’ and the ‘where’ questions pull on each other; they are, you might like to say, in tension. The ‘where’ question is often disruptive, and makes us feel uneasy for a while. It can put strain on our relationships with each other; it can even cause conflict. The ‘how’ question can get in the way of the group’s mission because it’s hard to go somewhere fast with truthfulness and purpose when you are bogged down by the ins and outs of messy human relationships. It’s easier just to lead the way and expect the pack to catch up!
But, of course, happily or unhappily, ‘how’ and ‘where’ need each other. (Did you see that one coming?) If our only aim is a peaceful internal equilibrium of stable warm relationships, people eventually ask, “But what is the point of it all?” They ask the ‘where’ question themselves. And if there is no answer present, the group dies in a loving whimper or else explodes in a love-fest gone wrong. There is such at thing as ‘tough love’, and it’s there to prevent mud-sucking-you-down love. Expect the kick, be prepared for the sharp word. It’s conflict baby, and it may just be the prophetic voice pointing us where to go.
And just as obviously, ‘where’ needs ‘how’. You can’t troop on ahead saving the world if your people are lying about in ditches and injured huddles. Nope – that’s bad too.
So in conclusion: ‘how’ needs ‘where’. ‘Where’ needs ‘how’. The prophet needs the carer. Vice-versa on that. A mission needs a community. A community needs a mission. Peace and truth. Truth and peace.
I’m sure there is a Sesame Street song in this.
Image from Hernán Piñera, Flickr.