4.3. What is Spiritual leadership?
4.3.1. Christian leadership
There are many possible ways of defining Christian Leadership but one of the simplest definitions comes from CPASs Leadership Principal James Lawrence who suggests that it involves three things:
Being led by Jesus
Leading more like Jesus
Leading more to Jesus
184.108.40.206. Led by Jesus
It is the fundamental task of all Christians to follow Christ. As Chaplains, lay or ordained our primary task is to follow. Our ability to lead will relate very strongly to our willingness to be led. At the heart of the Christian good news is Grace and unless we are are willing to constantly accept this grace and live in the love that it gives, we will not be in a position to lead others in this way and in the this Kingdom.
We all have our identity issues and wounds from the past - that is to be a human being. But if we see in the Sea Cadets a place where that identity can be defined and gained then we will go badly wrong. It is helpful to be defined in a role , Chaplain, and to be a given a uniform to mark out that role but if we move away from our primary identity as a Christian in need of the grace and love that can only come from God our Father through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, then we will miss out.
In the Sea Cadets the area of identity often comes up as a Pastoral issue and our organisation attracts a wide spectrum of people, some of whom will be seeking their identity in the uniform they wear and the medals they gather. It is the chaplains role here to be as subversive as Christ - for example in the wearing of uniform to wear what we do in a smart and seamanlike fashion, but equally to sit lightly to all the ‘stuff’ that goes with the wearing.
Our primary leadership role is to be led by Christ - for this reason for the Christian leader there is no escape from the Spiritual Disciplines of Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, Study, Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, Service, Confession, Worship, Guidance and Celebration. A helpful introduction to these for any wishing to explore these basics can be founding Richard Fosters book ‘Celebration of Discipline.’
220.127.116.11. Lead like Jesus
Jesus Christ is our primary model of leadership. We aim to lead like he, who was the embodiment of Grace and Truth did.
Jesus used a whole variety of approaches to leading, from 1-1 work, through small groups to speaking to large crowds. He was both strategic and personal. He was incarnate and not detached from the people he was seeking to lead - our theology of chaplaincy earlier noted that incarnation is a key part of chaplaincy.
This to be sure is telling you what you already know. The way this kind of leadership intersects with the Sea Cadets though is interesting in that the Corps is undeniably military in character - and while the military occasionally makes reference to Christian principles (the motto of the Royal military Academy Sandhurst is still ‘Serve to Lead’) these are often overlooked for more typical ‘military’ attitudes (the motto of the Royal Naval College Dartmouth includes to ‘fight and win’.)
18.104.22.168. Lead more to Jesus
All Christians are called to be obedient to Christ’s Great Commission (Matthew 28:19ff). Key to this mission part of Christian leadership is a thoughtful and nuanced understanding of the difference between ‘Proselytizing’ (a bad thing) and ‘Evangelism’ (a very good thing).
These two ideas are not synonymous. The best way to distinguish them is to understand proselytism as "unworthy witness." The World Council of Churches and the Roman Catholic Church produced a helpful study document in 1970 titled Common Witness and Proselytism. It identified three aspects of proselytism. Proselytism takes place (1) whenever our motives are unworthy (when our concern is for our glory rather than God's), (2) whenever our methods are unworthy (when we resort to any kind of "physical coercion, moral constraint, or psychological pressure"), and (3) whenever our message is unworthy (whenever we deliberately misrepresent other people's beliefs).
Clearly in relation to our previous section of ‘Leading like Jesus’ proselytism fails on a number of counts. It is also theologically suspect in that proselytism offers little space for the activity of God. It makes the incorrect assumption that we ‘convert’ people. We don’t at all, it is all God from start to finish.
Somewhat ironically most military methods are very close to proselytism - even the most enlightened Officer Training programme seeks to deconstruct and then reconstruct Officer cadets through extensive Physical, Moral and Psychological coercion. For this reason there will be some critics in the Corps who will only think in these terms and criticise the chaplaincy and chaplains for being conversion chasers. We do ourselves a grave disservice when we fulfil these wrong assumptions.
22.214.171.124.2. Evangelism and Mission
In contrast, to evangelize is (in the words of the Manila Manifesto) "to make an open and honest statement of the gospel, which leaves the hearers entirely free to make up their own minds about it. We wish to be sensitive to those of other faiths, and we reject any approach that seeks to force conversion on them.”
Our approach to Mission and Evangelism must be like like Philip and Nathaniel (John 1:43-51) where Philip says to Nathaniel ‘Come and See’. The very essence of a loving relationship is the opposite of coercion. We are called to be intentional, to be purposeful, and to always be prepared (1 Peter 3:15) to give and answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Most Sea Cadet Units are microcosmic reflections of the society they come from. As a result there will be people there of great faith, people of no faith and most people somewhere in between. The Chaplain is there to serve all the people and cadets in the unit - of all faiths and none.
The distinction between Proselytism and Evangelism is much easier for us to grasp than some of our critics for it is a distinction many of us have been working with for many years. Those of us who are Anglican Vicars will appreciate the importance of having the ‘Cure of Souls’ of a parish where we are tasked to prayer for and care for the whole parish whether they come to church or not. Here as ever there needs a thoughtful balancing of the graciousness of our approach and the clarity of our message. To err one way is to be coercive, to err the other is to offer no hope.
In practice this is rarely an issue in units. In units where we have Muslim cadets often the parents value the input of the Christian Chaplain in the same way that many Muslims send their children to Church of England or Christian schools because of their emphasis on God and values.
4.3.2. Other faiths and chaplaincy
One interesting aspect to note is that ‘Chaplaincy’ as a concept is in many senses a very particularly ‘Christian’ thing. It is very incarnational in character and so mirrors the theology and incarnation of Jesus.
Over the years the Sea Cadet Chaplaincy has consistently been open to those of other faiths being Chaplains and done everything practically to make this possible. The regulations and processes are there to allow this and there are similar criteria with regards leadership and accreditation and there are distinct uniform regulations for those of other faiths that incorporate their beliefs. In practice though the chaplaincy has been almost exclusively Christian.
When examined at a deeper level the things that emerge for this lack of other faiths often relate to their differing notions of Spiritual Leadership. For example in the Christian faith there is a high emphasis placed on Pastoral Care, the notion that the spiritual leader might visit and enquire of those they have care for when they are sick, ill or near death. This though is sometimes not present at all in some other faiths. What we treat as ‘normal’ in our culture, which is historically rooted in the Judaeo-Christian heritage, for others this is not normal at all.
That said, the chaplaincy is still there for people of all faiths and none so if a Cadet needs alternative arrangements for worship and or specific requirements for practising their faith the chaplain can help to facilitate that.
We are ably assisted and guided as a Chaplaincy by our colleagues in the RN Chaplaincy whose experience in this area has worked through a number of scenarios and cases looking after those of other faiths.