Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Clearing Committee

Today I participated in a day-long retreat, "The Heart of Leadership: Leading with Spiritual Awareness," at Rolling Ridge, our United Methodist retreat center in North Andover, MA. The retreat leaders were Margaret Benefiel, Quaker, professor at Andover Newton Theological School, CEO of ExecutiveSoul.com, and author of Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations; and Larry Peacock, United Methodist pastor currently serving as executive director at Rolling Ridge.

One of the most meaningful exercises, for me, was time spent in a group of three, reflecting on an issue we're dealing with in our leadership, through what is called a Clearing Committee - a Quaker tradition. It goes like this:
  • Silence (1 min.)
  • Focus person speaks (4 min.)
  • Clarifying questions - focus person responds (1 min.)
  • Silence (1 min.)
  • Questions and comments - focus person does not respond; someone in the group records (7 min.)
  • Prayer (2 min.)
  • Transition to the next focus person (1 min.)

I found it incredibly helpful to reflect in a very focused way, confined by clear parameters of time within a prayerful, supportive, reflective space; and then to receive not suggestions or advice, but questions and comments, to which I could not respond, but which invited me to further reflection. The idea is that the wisdom comes not from those in the group who have advice to share, but from within the person dealing with the issue, and from God.

I need to spend some time thinking about how this exercise might have application in my ministry. I think there are some real possibilities. The Clearing Committee -- sometimes called Circle of Trust -- invites spiritual groundedness when dealing with leadership issues.

How could you imagine utilizing the Clearing Committee in your ministry, workplace, church, organization, or family?

1 comment:

Paul Ellis said...

This is great. Also http://www.samsonsociety.org/ has some simular very stong twists specifically for Christian men who are struggling with something. Anything actualy, doesn't need to be "leadership" issues specifically. The most enlighting for me are issues related to my heart weather I'm the one being "focused" on or not!