|Thought Leaders in Religion|
A service of InterfaithCalendar.org
From the communications industry and one of its thought leaders, Keith Lubner of Channel Consulting Corp, come ideas that can assist religious thought leaders. The following grows out of Lubner’s words in the March 2010 Redmond Channel Partner magazine.
Religion is made up of ideas and thoughts that shape the future of persons and societies. It is natural that leaders in any religion are responsible for the presentation and activation of the central ideas of the particular religion of their experience. The daily maintenance of real life religious communities tends to dominate the time of the leaders and distract from the disciplines of being a thought leader. Here are the issues for this article.
|Gather Knowledge in your field.
Share Ideas with people.
Be open to inquiries.
Expect to be rewarded.
Stake out your unique field of expertise.
1. Gather knowledge in your field. The horizon of individual knowledge is ever expanding. I like the idea of bluntly investing time in the acquisition of new information. Development of a hunger for knowledge is a habit that can be adopted at any point in life. The investment of time is a key factor for religious leaders. We are tempted to adopt a fortress mentality constructed from what we have been taught and gathered. As societies change new information is exposed through innovation and experimentation. The effective religious thought leader pays attention to new information in his/her field of expertise. This takes development of a taste for the unfamiliar and even threatening ideas that can trigger anxiety and discomfort. The broad range of religious information has few limits. In a word, pay attention.
3. Be open to inquiries. When one gives away information freely, an environment for sharing is opened. In such a climate, the thought leader faces a central challenge: Can I actually listen to what these people are saying? Fleeing to the comfort of one’s familiar ground is the immediate response for most leaders. It takes discipline, skill training, and fortitude to develop listening skills that come through as credible to the inquirer. This point is related to number one above – Gather knowledge in your field. When people present information that is at variance with the position of the thought leader a critical moment in the process has arrived. If the leader actually listens to the inquirer, a complex transaction takes place that is unique in communication. It is as if time stops for a moment and thoughts mingle creating a new mix of ideas. Out of that event both the thought leader and the inquirer are moved forward.
4. Expect to be rewarded. In the business context this means a money reward that is based on the value added of the transaction. Higher fees go with expert skills. In religious leadership the thought leader has to deal with a different value system. If the rewards include a sense of doing the right thing, or generating the respect of peers, or gaining wider personal recognition are of highest priority, then honesty about what it is that a person must have is necessary. Without appropriate rewards a thought leader in religion will fade and lose energy to continue. This is a sticking point for religious leaders in a society where economic reward is valued far above all other factors. If money is primary, then fees need to reflect that reality. Even if money is not primary, it needs to be integrated into the reward system for a religious thought leader.
Chances are that your
expertise will gain attention if your claims are well grounded. As this
happens, the power of “Gather knowledge in your field” once again takes over
and the process continues as a dynamic growing reality. Persistence in
the process is up to the individual person.
Persistence in the process is up to the individual person.
Methodist Order of the Christian religion
March 14, 2010 Revised March 25, 2010
Revised March 25, 2010