Honor your leadership lineage

Friendly Reminder: A weekly reflection from the Quaker Leadership Center

Since Quakers aren’t known for celebrating special days and holy calendars, I will let you in on a few dates. Yesterday was Reformation Sunday, a day when Reformed Christians celebrate a legacy of “reformed and ever-reforming” (what are we: Friended and always be-Friending?). Tomorrow is All Saints Day, during which many Christians celebrate the “communion of saints.” And October was Pastor Appreciation Month, a time for supporting and celebrating clergy folks who provide spiritual nurture in congregations around the world.

What do all of these have to do with Quaker leadership? They are liturgical reminders to honor our leadership lineage.

Writer Linda Hogan put it this way: “Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” All of you are great leaders. But none of you made it by yourself. Indeed, we are all the “result of the love of thousands.” It’s worth taking the time to acknowledge a couple of them.

You are probably familiar with the ancient commandment, “honor thy father and mother.” I happen to like Evan Moffic’s paraphrase: “Honor those who gave you life.” We don’t all have parents who gave us the stability and nurture we needed, but we all have people who cared for us, invested in us and helped us find our way. When we couldn’t find the Light Within, they helped us journey through the darkness. When we faltered in walking in the Light we were given, they cheered us on to take a next step. When we were tempted to hide our Light under a bushel or rush ahead of the Guide, they offered a timely word of wisdom.

Before we met them, they had already a decision to be a life-giving, Light-affirming person in the world. That is worthy of thanks and honor. And it’s worth making that commitment for those who come after us. In the cycle of leadership, our lineage turns into a legacy.

Some of us need some new nurture, and there’s absolutely no shame is seeking it. Others of us are in a season of nurturing a new generation of leadership, a hard but holy task. Both are ways of honoring our lineage—those who gave us life.

What is your life and leadership lineage? Who has supported you in your personal and professional growth? How are you being invited to honor them?