Friday, March 19, 2010

Ecclesiastical Leadership

This is Bishop Bell's verdict on Randall Davidson, which is interesting not least for how it might be said to apply to his most recent successor. While they undoubtedly differ in their view of establishment (separated as they are by a World War and eighty years of change), there is at least food for thought.

There are those who are leaders of a cause on the success of which they stake everything they have: and all their efforts, all their acts are devoted to the achievement of their particular plan or their particular doctrine. Such leaders will drive forward as fast as they can, and will cry aloud to their followers to make haste after them. But there is another kind of leader, who having a charge entrusted to him and a body of people at whose head he is placed, rather seeks to act as interpreter of the best mind that is in them and to give it expression, to discover the communis sensus of the society, and to use all the means in his power to give it the opportunity of expression. Such a leader will guide and will show the way, and he will teach and suggest, but he will not be likely to lift his voice from the housetops, and to cry aloud to the laggards to come on at full speed. He will realize the diversity of human nature, of the material with which he has to deal, and will give it, or lead it to, the best and the highest unity of which he believes it to be capable under the given conditions. Such a man will not be the leader of a forlorn hope. His is the leadership of the Chairman or the Moderator. He will wish to keep the boat even, without endangering the passengers. He prefers peace and agreement before violence and confusion. He runs the risk of misrepresentation, and is unlikely to win great popular applause. but he is not on that account to be dismissed as an unsuitable kind of leader in dangerous and unsettled times.

Source: G. K. A. Bell, Randall Davidson: Archbishop of Canterbury (Oxford University Press, 1935), Vol. II, 1161.


Bruce Robison said...

A thoughtful note, Jeremy. Thank you. I'm reminded of George Werner's frequent reminder that it was the charge of Moses to bring the whole people to the Land of Promise, and not just the commandos . . . .

Jeremy Bonner said...

Very true, Bruce.

Bell, however, went on to practice the other style of leadership, most notably in his criticism of saturation bombing during the Second World War, a stance that almost certainly cost him the See of Canterbury.