Why is it that some pastors flourish wherever they go, while others with superior theological and practical training continually fail? Why do some insignificant events end up touching people in significant ways? Why do people leave churches with vibrant and exciting programs while others remain loyal to churches that seem to have very little to offer? What makes the difference?
In a book that is both profound and practical, Mary Sellon and Daniel Smith make the case that the health of churches and synagogues depends on congregations learning how to live out love in “right relationships.”
The authors found that the effectiveness of a congregation, as well as the participants’ sense of fulfillment and commitment, varied according to the quality of their relationships with each other.
“Pastors who possessed strong relational skills and worked at establishing healthy relationships thrived almost anywhere they went,” write Sellon and Smith. “Pastors less adept at relationships continually struggled even though they engaged in the same best practices as their colleagues.”
The quality of relationships seemed to be the key. Leadership is not a matter of using certain skills and implementing particular practices, nor it about being right. Leadership is a relationship.
Sellon and Smith bring together the wisdom they gained in their work with dozens of pastors and congregations with the findings of prominent researchers on emotional intelligence and relationship dynamics to show the practices that are central to building relational leadership.
Practicing Right Relationship offers theories, stories, and tools that will help congregations and their leaders learn how to build and maintain the loving relationships that provide the medium for God’s transforming work.
"Sellon and Smith combine profound research on relationships with practical examples from congregations to create a handbook on building faith-based communities. The book takes the reader on a journey of development, from right relationship with self, to other, and finally with Spirit. We all know we should 'love our neighbor,' but this book give us a step-by-step map for how to do that!"—Faith Fuller, co-director, The Center for Right Relationship
"Have you ever walked away from a meeting with the sense that God had been in the conversation powerfully? This book helped me understand why. To the extent that our relationships are right, our interactions manifest God's love and care. Both novice and advanced practitioner alike can improve their skills for right relationships by practicing the simple exercises in this book. Thanks be to God for this very wise book!"—Susan W. N. Rauch, director of conference spiritual leadership development, General Board of Discipleship, The United Methodist Church