Lessons By the Book: Ultimately Responsible

Date Posted: 1/8/2015

What you do today can improve all of your tomorrows. These words of wisdom from the publisher of the Daily Motivator, can easily be applied to leadership and congregational vitality. Since receiving a copy of annual conference speaker Sue Kibbey Nilson’s Ultimately Responsible from Bishop Janice Riggle Huie at the 2014 annual conference, clergy across the state have been reading, discussing, digesting and sharing experiences with each other and their congregations.
 
Southwest District Superintendent Jay Jackson is presently leading a district-wide study on the book with his pastors.  They discuss the high points of the chapters that they are reviewing, and then break out into facilitated small groups to pursue deeper discussion. Additionally, the SW District Leadership Training will offer a session called “Ultimately Responsible Leadership” that will be largely based on this book.
“The bulk of the material in the book offers structured common sense approaches to discipleship and structured discipleship development,” adds Jay. “The best insight for me is the multi-layered approach to discipleship that requires insight into the individual's level of discipleship and multiple stages of development opportunities concurrently offered to grow people at all stages.”
 
Jay has encouraged the pastors to conduct similar discussions within their congregations. Rev. Matt Neely, Parkway UMC, Sugar Land, says, “I had a really good conversation with our members around this book.  It was obvious to me that the people in my group had read the material and thought about it.  The group pushed and pulled about things that the author said in ways that were helpful and thought provoking for all of us. 

Everyone was not in total agreement about each point, but the conversation forced people to think about the issues the author brings up.”
In addition to several other districts, the North District is also reaping the benefits of quadrant groups that bring clergy together – as often as weekly – for leadership related discussions. District Superintendent Bill Taylor shares, “We usually discuss a book, talk about ministry, and go to lunch afterward.  This is my way of having some time with the clergy in the district and keeping in touch.” The Ultimately Responsible book provided the backdrop for his clergy group discussions in recent months. Rev. Guy Williams, Atlanta First United Methodist Church, says, “Experiencing a clergy group through the quadrant model has been wonderful practice for me. I have deepened friendships with pastors I already knew and created new relationships with pastors I may never have had chance to interact with. Several months during the school year, we gather to share updates on family and ministry, laugh with one another, learn together through discussions of books we've read and of course, pray.” 
 
Later this month Rev. Curtis Matthys, First UMC Sealy, is also planning to lead a study of the book with his key leaders. Rev. Jacqui King, however, has chosen to incorporate several of the book’s concepts into her personal approach to training sessions designed to help Jones Memorial UMC, Houston, be more missional. Notes Jacqui, “I particularly like the section on unleashing servanthood, because the author reminds us to shift our mindset. The excitement about launching change is great but it is important to pay attention to God’s pace in that change, so that we will reach all who God is calling us to reach.”