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September 10, 2012 / Richard Bass

Resources and Comments in Response to “Covenants of Leadership Behavior”

Gil Rendle’s “Covenants of Leadership Behavior” (the September 10, 2012 Alban Weekly, adapted from Leading Change in the Congregation: Spiritual and Organizational Tools for Leaders) explains why developing a “covenant of leadership” is essential to helping leaders develop and maintain behaviors that keep the values of their faith. The need for such a covenant is particularly pressing when attempts at change are sabotaged by “inappropriate, unhelpful, or indirect behaviors.”

Rendle offers an example of a governing board’s leadership covenant. It includes promises to God, to the church family, and to each other. Noteworthy among the promises are these: to “respect and care for each other,” to “listen with an open, nonjudgmental mind,” and to “discuss, debate, and disagree openly.”

The author also emphasizes that a covenant is not meant to enforce behaviors, but rather to raise behaviors to a level of awareness from which helpful conversations can ensue.

What resources might support you and your congregation in developing a leadership covenant? In addition to the items listed at the end of the article, please consider Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences.

What are your stories and thoughts on this topic? And what resources do you suggest? We look forward to hearing from you.


Leave a Comment
  1. William A. Hartfelder / Sep 19 2012 3:45 pm

    A pastor friend of mine tells the story about when he was a new pastor. After experiencing his first bouts of less-than-healthy, in fact, downright inappropriate and undermining behavior among members of his first congregation, he asked his older brother, also a pastor with more experience, why people in church behave “life that”? His brother responded, “Because they can!” The covenants outlined in this post are simple and much-needed. It is my intention to begin each new year of leadership using this model. I am a firm believer that as leadership goes (behaves) so goes the entire congregation.

  2. Rev. L. Gail Irwin / Sep 10 2012 9:59 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have long felt that church leaders don’t always realize their behavior is inappropriate and damaging to good process, and agreeing on guidelines for the spiritual disciplines of leadership is a great idea. The Presbyterians used to have “ethical guidelines” like these for not only clergy but also elders and members of a congregation, and I handed them out to new members and leaders. Many of us have to learn healthy, civil behavior from the ground up when we connect with the church; this is part of the transformation that comes with “putting on Christ”. It is a discipline!

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