I like this!
“The Abbot’s role is to guard the ethos. He/she is continually asking: ‘Are we living the story? Are we keeping the ethos?’ Abbots live the ethos among others and in so doing are saying; ‘This is what we do as members of the Order; it may also be what you want to do.’ Therefore, the Abbot’s role is deeply relational and interpretive, continually inviting others into exploration not program. … It is a very relational role of reminding and holding up the mirror but never coercing. The question an Abbot is always asking in various ways is: How is your heart?”
More at odyssey. And previously on this blog: The Missional Order: Ethos, a core value. Descriptive not Prescriptive.
Of course, abbotts lead people who have made a conscious commitment to serve God and to be under the headship of the abbott. Ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and mosque leaders, and other faith community leaders in “open” society lead people who may not have made any conscious commitment to serve or worship or be in relationship with God, who may be simply testing the waters, fulfilling a duty, doing what seems laudable, longing to experience God, enjoying the company of the community, etc. And they may find authority of others over them to be something detestable, to be resisted.
Even so, and maybe more so, it seems to me that leading by living the ethos, and inviting but not coercing others to live it, is a good — though perhaps difficult and vague — way to go. With, as Alan says, the focus being “the journey into God — everything else flows out of that most basic journey.”