Saturday, December 02, 2006

True or False: v2.0 Proximity

The other day 'sloos and I were sitting in a quiet little coffee shop drinking tea and talking about a true eclection of ideas. One of the statements that was made (with some grimmace) sounded like this:

"Other then Jesus, the most important aspect of leadership and ministry is proximity." Simply, the distance between the leader and the follower has the largest impact on the quality of the leader/follower relationship.

True or False?


Markimus said...

Proximity as in actual physical space or proximity as in shared path space?

If it is the latter I would say true. There are people that I influence and lead by the fact that I have shared a similar space [experience] in the journey and I am impacted and influenced by others by the fact that I identify and share some of thier experiences and learn from them.

If it were physical space alone then I would disagree. If that were true then the entire history of the Church and Chrisitanity would be nullified.

Anonymous said...

Eclection indeed.

I think I'd agree. I can't think of anything else that would be better. If close proximity is not part of the equation, on whatever level (physical, mental...), then there would be no relationship at all.

Anonymous said...

Proximity is a topic (now I actually have a word for it) I was thinking about this week.
As leaders is there room for friendship? I know in my life, I have leaders and mentors who I wouldn't consider friends, but they are leaders and mentors. What is my reason? I know little to nothing about this person or what I knwo is so fragmented or little that really I have no actual basis to claim that I truely know this person. They know me and a lot about me because of the aspects of my life and who I am that I've divulged to them.
That being said,
I agree with what Mark had to say. And with what Boomer said because they're not conflicting at all.
But my question is, in mentorship and leadership, is there space for friendship- and is it ok for there to be that extreme of the leader knowing everything about you, and you little about the leader? And following that question, is it truely leadership if someone doesn't know you (the leader)?

Derwyn said...

I guess we could digress further about the varying levels of relationship one could have with another...

I don't know about the "most important" part of the question. It's true that closeness in physical space and shared path do play an important part. Witness Jesus and the Twelve (and the Three, in particular). Here is a huge example of closeness in physical space and shared path space and close relationship on top of it all. The apostles then went on to make a tremendous impact for the sake of Christ in the world, even to horrible martyrdom.

Christians today don't have that literal closeness the apostles did, but the Spirit living in us is certainly pretty close proximity...

But I don't know that this proximity was the "most important" part of the equation.

Now you're going to ask me what was most important, aren't you?

Paul & Wanda Moores said...


Realizing that proximity will give you varying degrees of results.

Erwin McManus said that one of his parishoners came to live with him but had to leave after only a few days because he couldn't handle seeing his pastor in his pyjamas. But he loved his books.

Proximity didn't produce the results desired in that case.

I met a famous Christian a few years back, someone I had great respect for even though he was very different than me. When I met him, he was a total dork to me, ordering me around like I was his personal robot.

Proximity told me something about him that day.

Anonymous said...

Yes but not in a physical sense...

Proximity in a real heart sense.

Anonymous said...

So Derwyn - what is the most important bit?

Derwyn said...

Since many of us posting here are doing the pastoral ministry thing, my answer has to do with what is commonly presupposed about what the (usually "senior") pastor has to do to be successful in his leadership.

The presupposition is that the (senior) pastor must be the one in close proximity to his followers if he is to be an effective leader, and this is usually taken to mean that he must figure out how to get as close as he can to everyone in the church. If some guy who just shows up every Sunday gripes that the pastor doesn't visit him or something, the suggestion is made that the pastor is not being effective in leadership; he has no proximity to that guy.

I think it's obvious that if we define proximity in this way, then all of our churches should be no more than, say, 50 people in size in order for each person to get close to the pastor. You can only "flatten the pyramid" so far...

So, I think the most important aspect of leadership and ministry is communicating the importance of plurality in leadership. The concept of team fits in here. It's still based on the importance of proximity, but nuanced to emphasize that the needed proximity is not necessarily going to be with the (senior) pastor himself.

You know where I'm going here. The (senior) pastor maintains proximity with his leadership team and communicates clearly by actions and words that his team leads the church together with him. Those leaders under him maintain proximity with others in the church, so that no one can actually say that nobody is close to them.

The challenge comes in helping that guy that just shows up on Sunday to understand that getting close to the (senior) pastor is not essential to be ministered to as part of the body of Christ.

So, proximity is certainly important, but I think successful leaders have figured out how to extend that proximity to many through several leaders.

Jesus did that, and still does through you and me...

Markimus said...


I am not sure if this was intentional but I think your previous post has much to do with this. Proximity has much to do with the 'anatomy of a buzz.'

Anonymous said...

I agree with Markimus, it does seem to connect to the previous post.

Speaking of buzz, have you ever read the book:
United Nations Global Strait Jacket
by Joan M. Veon


Jeremy Postal said...

Markimus - nearly every post that I EVER write is connected in someway to the previous post. All that I do is write my flow of thoughts!

Mark, you are going to need to unpack this statement a bit for me?
"If it were physical space alone then I would disagree. If that were true then the entire history of the Church and Chrisitanity would be nullified."

Its bold and even beautiful but I'm not sure we're eating oranges from the same box at this point.

"I think I'd agree. I can't think of anything else that would be better. If close proximity is not part of the equation, on whatever level (physical, mental...), then there would be no relationship at all."

Boomer - I don't think that close relationship (or relationship at all) is a must for effective leadership. There are a lot of people who can be led with zero relational connection. Ya think?

Jeremy Postal said...

Oh - and Dave...
Good to see you around the blog; hope you get that book for Christmas. Its a gooder.

Markimus said...

Just got a box of Jap oranges... Come on over and I will show you how to eat from the same box.

Anonymous said...

I look at Moses, and he lead Israel. He didn't have a personal relationship with everyone there.
however, there was a heirarchy that was there when it came to proximity. Moses was on the verge of burnout and his father-in-law suggested to get some other leaders in there.

Kind of makes sense to me.

Jabin Postal said...

I agree with boomer when he says that without close proximity it is going to be extremly difficult to lead people. We can see this through history and in everyday lives of people. that is all i am going to say because my other response got deleted when i logged in.

Jeremy Postal said...

But close proximity isn't always all that valuable is it?

Anonymous said...

It's always valuable. Close proximity allows for authenticity to be shown. Simply talking over blogger land, msn, emails, or whatever, doesn't really show the true emotion. Those things stated are a tool to maintain proximity but should never be an end in themselves to proximity.

Anonymous said...

Then there is the whole pastoral outlook on it...
Again, you have someone like the sr. pastor who leads leaders, those leader lead leaders, those leaders lead leaders, and so and so and so.
The Sr. Pastor would then be leading indirectly, but then have an over arching voice that leads directly. As one example.

Markimus said...

Is pastoral leadership the only leadership leadership leanse we think through? Try applying these thoughtr to a wider leadership grid.