This article comes from the August issue of The Mennonite, which focuses on “The Holy Spirit comes: MennoCon19 in stories and photos.” Read more reflections here or subscribe here to receive more original features in your inbox each month.
At the end of service on the Dock Mennonite Academy Board of Trustees, each departing trustee receives a fraktur with a favorite Bible verse. Following my term, I was asked which verse I wanted on my fraktur, and I requested Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Leadership requires much ongoing personal development, and Mennonite values of justice, mercy and humility are ones to incorporate into daily life. Authentic servanthood leadership is something to aspire to, but it takes perseverance, practice and resilience.
As the new moderator of Mennonite Church USA, I am looking forward to learning and growing as I serve in the church. I want to act justly, love mercifully and walk humbly with my God over the next two years. This is easier said than done, and all leaders in the church need grace for when they fail. Sometimes people with the best leadership potential say no to church leadership positions, afraid of failure and ultimately of criticism. We are missing out on the sharing of significant leadership gifts in the church.
Tom Yoder Neufeld, our speaker for the Bible studies during the Delegate Assembly at MennoCon19, proclaimed that “the church is a mess,” to which we replied, “Thanks be to God.” Messiness is part of any leadership journey and has the wonderful possibility to lead to new beginnings.
Even in the midst of our church messiness, I believe there is hope for the future. If we practice listening more than talking, if we continue to mentor our youth into leadership roles, and if we lead with a transparent spirit, our beloved Mennonite church will grow and thrive. Our words and actions as leaders matter a whole lot. Please provide prayerful and other kinds of support to our MC USA Executive Board staff, conference and constituency leaders, pastors and others who provide important leadership to our denomination.
My hope for the church is that the Spirit of God will continue to move in our midst as we all lead, grow and pray together. Practice listening more than talking. Practice being in difficult conversations with others. Practice hospitality and practice washing or spraying each other’s feet. Together our leadership can make a difference in MC USA.
Joy Sutter is moderator of Mennonite Church USA.