Meditation 7: Leadership

Meditation 7: Leadership

Justice Debra Mullins

Biographical My main roles in the Diocese are currently as Deputy Chancellor, President of the Professional Standards Board, and a member of the Cathedral Chapter. As a child, I attended the local Anglican parish and that became a regular part of my life.  I understood and appreciated my faith development (and that it was not just a habit) and the significance of practising my faith in the Anglican tradition, when I married my husband Pat who is Roman Catholic.  Early on in our marriage we participated in an ecumenical group known as the Inter Church Families Association which helped to highlight our common Christian faith, but where there were differences in our respective traditions.Although my reflection is from the lay perspective, I offer it in the anticipation that it may have relevance for both lay and clergy.  It is about leadership in the Church and the importance of fostering or encouraging leadership.
Image: Deborah under the Palm  
Bible reading

Judges 4:4-10

4 At that time Deborah, a prophetess, wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel. 5She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgement. 6She sent and summoned Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali, and said to him, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you, “Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. 7I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.” ’ 8Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go.’ 9And she said, ‘I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.’ Then Deborah got up and went with Barak to Kedesh. 10Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand warriors went up behind him; and Deborah went up with him.

Exercise for relaxation and focus. Take up a posture that is comfortable and restful…Close your eyes…Try to become aware of some sensations in your body that you are feeling at this moment, but that you have not called into awareness. Become aware of the touch of the clothes on your back… or of your back touching the chair you are sitting on’ touching the floor if lying down…

Now be aware of the feel of your hands as they touch each other as they rest on your lap…

Now become aware of the clothes touching different areas of your skin: the clothes on your arms and legs;  the soles of your feet as they touch the inner part of your shoes.


Once again be conscious of these sensations of being touched by your clothes, the chair/floor: in your shoulders, back, your right hand, your left hand, your right/left arm, right/left leg, the soles of your feet.


And again, your shoulders, back, hands, arms, legs, soles of your feet…


Continue to go round by yourself now, moving from one part of your body to another.  Do not dwell for more than a couple of seconds on each part.


You may dwell of n the parts of the body I have indicated or on any other parts you wish; chest, stomach, neck.  The important thing is that you get the feel , the sensation, of each part; that you feel it for a second or two, and then move on to another part of your body.


After ten minutes of doing this, I will ask you to open your eyes.

Personal story The example I give from my own experience starts with the request by the then rector of my parish, Canon Bruce Maughan, to consider becoming a member of the Council of Cannon Hill Anglican College.  It was 1996, my three children were of primary school age, and I had a busy practice as a barrister.  It was the fact, however, that my legal qualifications and experience would complement the skills of the existing Council members.  But for the approach by Canon Maughan, I would not have given a thought at that time to putting my name forward to take on such a role in the Church.  I accepted the challenge and felt privileged to serve on the Council between 1997 and 2007.  Taking on that role was the commencement of my playing a greater role in the Diocese than as a parishioner.
Silence 5 minutes
Guided reflection Twenty years of Women’s Ordination has gifted the Anglican Church of Australia with women leaders who have brought their unique talents to service in the ordained ministry and makes it opportune to reflect on their leadership. They stand in the tradition of women religious leaders such as Jael (“the most fortunate of women” Judges 5:24) and Deborah (a woman leader who “came like a mother for Israel” Judges 5:7) and in the New Testament Mary Magdalene who first recognised the Risen Jesus as “Teacher” on Easter Day (John 20:16) and who went and “told the disciples that she had seen the Lord” (John 20:18) as first witness to the Resurrection. They also stand in the tradition of Mary the Mother of Christ who gathered the disheartened disciples with the women in the upper room “to pray as a group” (Acts 1:12) before the Pentecost.Jael, Deborah, Mary Magdalene and Mary emerged as leaders when male dominance was the order of the day. They demonstrated a strong faith commitment, courage to put their trust in God and to step forward in faith and act in ways that their circumstances required of them. They were called to lead and responded with faith and courage. 

Leadership demands such courage, but it also demands sustained commitment. It has been significant that in the relatively short time that ordination of women has been in place so many women have accepted ordination and served alongside their male counterparts with courage and sustained commitment. 


Both lay and clergy have the responsibility of advancing the mission of the Church with the equal excellence of all vocations – both women and men and both clerical and lay.  The Church needs leaders and those who foster and support those leaders.


What is your role?

For the lay in the Church:

We all have gifts and talents that can be used in the mission of the Church.  Those gifts and talents might be technical or administrative skills, but they might also be time or compassion to share. 

(1)   Will you/ do you respond positively when asked by others to share your gifts and talents in the work of the Church? 

(2)   Will you encourage others to respond positively when asked to share their gifts and talents in the work of the Church? 

For the Clergy:

(1)   Do you encourage those who have gifts and talents that are under utilised by the Church to take on other roles in the Church? 

(2)   Will you encourage them to respond positively when asked to share their gifts and talents in the Church? 

(3)   Do you discern potential leadership qualities among others (both lay and clergy) in the Church?  What do you do about it?


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