Another Reflection on Journey for Justice

Sara Herrington Jones

Journey for Justice was an event held in early November at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky which empowered women in ministry. This event featured Rev. Dr. Eileen Campbell-Reed. Read below as BSK student Sara Herrington Jones offers a reflection on this event:

The recent “Journey for Justice” conference hosted by Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and Central Baptist Church of Lexington focused on affirming and empowering women in ministry. Following the session entitled, “Watch for the Falling Stained Glass!” I wrote a blog about the importance of self care in order to best function as a minister. The blog recapped the challenges for women when striving for a healthy work-life balance. In that session and in other events during the weekend, Dr. Campbell-Reed cited two articles in the Harvard Business Review.[1]  Throughout the weekend we participated in activities examining how we handle conflict, confrontation, and people with different personalities as we work for justice. Here are a few takeaways that are applicable to anyone:

  • When we identify what brings us enjoyment and fulfillment, we also need to acknowledge what drives us crazy. Naming the things that drive us crazy is easy but Dr. Campbell-Reed suggests that it can also be beneficial if we use it to learn something about ourselves. Use the information as a strategy: name what drives you crazy and examine what positive attribute it means that you value within yourself. For example, if it drives you crazy when people say “I’ll be there” or “I’ll do it” but they don’t follow through or they always have an excuse as to why they don’t do it, you value integrity in your word as an attribute. By reframing the situation, we learn what we value and live into the practice what we hold dear when given the opportunity. It allows us a means to extend grace to others while leading us to being better leaders.

 

  • When we faced with numerous decisions daily or weekly, we often want to hear from our entire congregation so that we can make good decisions and offend the fewest people. In an effort to avoid conflict, we allow our desire to “listen” to lead postponed action, no decision, or no commitment. The process quickly becomes detrimental to those in our care. When there is only discussion, but never a decision, there is no moving forward on a shared vision or goal which is necessary to connect any community. We must recognize that sometimes we simply must act with appropriate speed and from personal conviction. If a decision turns out to be a misstep, we can learn from our mistake, and become better ministers going forward. Campbell-Reed stressed a defining characteristic for successful leaders is the actualization that “even a bad decision is better than no[2] When we commit to a decision, then we are able to work toward delivery of the action by planning and organizing accordingly. Without a decision, no plan of action can emerge.

 

  • When we step into roles which have previously been held by someone of another gender, race, or personality type, unexpected conflict can arise often because it makes “explicit” what was formerly “implicit” as a bias toward something or someone different. It may be that as a leader or a team member you may be deemed “that person who is always causing problems.”  Be aware of this phenomenon. What is often taking place has nothing to do with you personally. Our presence or perspective has hit a nerve – it is confronting an unexamined belief or way of being. The negative reaction presents an opportunity to uncover a justice issue – something that needs exposure, care, and healing. We might ask, “What is it about me that threatens [the other person] or threatens the status quo? What is the hidden, unexamined, “implicit” norm which our presence or leadership challenges?”  Rather than internalizing that we are “the problem” or we may “not be suited for” ministry or another task, we can use the situation to affirm our own call and offer grace to others as we plan to confront the bias.  Confronting the bias with renewed perspective allows room for the possibility for change and healing to begin.

These practical strategies can help all of us to become more effective leaders as we work together for justice.

Sara Herrington Jones is a current student at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky. Sara has been offering reflections on Journey for Justice, an event held in early November seeking to empower women in ministry. To read Sara’s previous reflection, click here.

[1] Schwartz &N McCarthy, “Manage Your Energy Not Your Time” Harvard Business Review, October 2007 and Botelho, Powell, Kincaid & Wang, “What Sets Successful CEOs Apart” Harvard Business Review, May-June, 2017.

[2] Botelho, Powell, Kincaid & Wang, “What Sets Successful CEOs Apart” Harvard Business Review, May-June, 2017.