June 20, 2016

Creativity and Entrepreneurial Leadership

            I spent an hour this past Thursday in a Doctor of Ministry seminar on campus.  The title of the course is “Entrepreneurial Leadership,” and the professor invited me to share some lessons about this kind of leadership, which churches and institutions find so necessary.  Some of these lessons are hard won, and I have no purchase on being a fully developed entrepreneur; however, that has been the nature of my calling over these past 11 years.

            As you might imagine from a theologian, I offered a theological framework.  Made after God’s likeness, creativity is a key attribute of what it means to be human.  God has imbued humanity with imagination, varied gifts, and resilience.  Problem solving is an expression of this creativity, and we can improvise solutions out of the store of our endowment as imago Dei.

            Another aspect of the theological framework is that our lives are future-oriented.  We live with an eschatological sense that we are not “finished,” and that God is inviting us to craft the future as divine partners.  Indeed, God is calling upon our creativity to give shape to the realization of God’s own reign.
            Some of the leadership lessons (in pursuit of being entrepreneurial) are as follows:
1.              Be receptive to the chaos that is inevitable when innovating.
2.              Learn to embrace calculated risk.
3.              Give back a sense of calm and stability in the vortex of change.
4.              Pay attention to personal resistance to change and the desire to repristinate the past.
5.              Remain hopeful in the midst of unknowing, and walk by faith.
6.              Carry a disposition of “why not?” rather than “why it won’t work.”
7.              Cultivate a life of prayer, and become ever more deeply rooted in faith.
8.              Seek wise counsel.  An isolated leader cannot impose vision; rather, vision arises out of thoughtful collaboration.  Leadership entails being a “keeper” of the vision, however.
9.              Find or construct a supportive professional network that can offer forthright perspective.
10.          Focus on performance objectives that align with values and vision of the school.
11.          Understand critical tasks unique to discrete positions and require accountability for their accomplishment.
12.          Continue to practice discernment about strategic direction.

Practitioners pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree because of a learning readiness and felt need to improve their practice of ministry.  Central’s focus on cultivating creative leaders interfaces with current challenges.  It is how we serve churches and other forms of direct service, such as a neighborhood center.
            I invite you to add to the list.  We are all learners on this pathway.

            Molly T. Marshall

Central prepares creative leaders for diverse ministry contexts.

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