Santa Maria la Nuova, Monreale, Sicily, Italy
IMAGE COURTESY FLICKR USER ALLIE_CAULFIELD

Leadership is always influenced by a person’s understanding of God — and that’s true of all kinds of leadership, whether at home, in politics, in the community, in business, in marriage, or in church. Your vision of God — God’s authority, power, mercy, justice, love, and more — will shape your own practice of leadership. 

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The Bible is filled with images, stories, and metaphors describing God. Which of these images influences your leadership? Indeed, what image of God most clearly shapes how a board understands its leadership role within a seminary? Put simply, what’s theological about governance at your theological school?

High alter of Trinity Church, Mosóc, Hungary.
IMAGE COURTESY OF HUNGARIAN NATIONAL GALLERY

In times of challenge this question is particularly important. When pressures arise, the spotlight shines directly on governance, since governance is ultimately about thorny issues like power, authority, personnel decisions, and the stewardship of resources, mission, relationships, strategy, and leadership. Theology really matters when big issues are at stake!

 

A few biblical pictures of leadership are described below. Each image marks a particular approach to leadership and governance. Which image best reflects your leadership as a trustee? Of your practice of shared governance? What other images might you suggest?

 

King Jesus, Lord and Savior of the world. This image (above, center) has long influenced leaders as they carry out their authority. Jesus proclaims in Matthew, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me,” and the leader receives authority and power through the head of the church, Jesus the King.

 

Andrei Rublev, Holy Trinity icon.
PUBLIC DOMAIN. 

Jesus the Good Shepherd. This rural image  from John’s Gospel (above, right) has influenced generations of pastors. Jesus cares for the church like his flock. Since the Lord is my shepherd, leadership in God’s image promotes love, protection, and care. 

Trinity. If public leadership reflects God’s image, and God is triune, then leadership should display shared power; it should be relational. This particular vision of the Trinity creates an image of God the Father who sacrifices his son for the sake of the world, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (above, left). 
 

Another classical description of Jesus’ threefold office is prophet, priest, and king. Is that the leadership that you are called to provide for your school? 
 

One of the divine images that has most influenced public leadership is Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity (right). In 15th-century Russia, leadership was fractured and competitive, and Rublev’s icon not only represented God as relational but invited leaders to imitate the divine fellowship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at table.
 

What an amazing story! A vision of the Trinity changed Russian politics in the 15th century. How might our images of God influence how we practice shared governance in our theological schools today? 


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