Learning leadership from my garden
A few nights ago we ate ratatouille. We sweated the onions over a low heat for 45 minutes. We added basil, garlic, and Italian parsleyâ€”all fresh from our garden here in New Zealand. Over time, we added the vegetables: pepper, eggplant, courgette, tomato. Finally, we mixed cheese and bread crumbs together.
The eggplant grew from seed (heirloom from Diggers Club) in the garden. In the growing, Iâ€™ve been challenged about leadership.
I planted the seeds back in October and to be honest, they struggled. Only a few germinated. Those that did grew very, very slowly. It was a constant battle to protect them from snails. They were rapidly overtaken by broccoli. When we left for holiday in mid-December, only two plants remained, about two centimeters high.
When I returned to work, two plants remained, but still only two centimeters high. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed. One month and no sign of progress. However, at least they were alive. Much else in the garden, ravaged by a run of 42-degrees-Celsius days, had wilted.
I removed what was large and competing (the broccoli) and began to water. Slowly the two eggplants grew. First flowers appeared.
Now, the fruit hangs heavy and black, a gorgeous sheen amid the green. The first fruits were delicious last night and we face the prospect of more ratatouille, along with eggplant dips, in the weeks ahead.
Iâ€™ve reflected on leadership as Iâ€™ve tended to these eggplants over the summer. It wouldâ€™ve been easy to buy seedlings, but there is something deeply satisfying about planting from seed. It wouldâ€™ve been easy to give up in the face of little growth, but Iâ€™ve realised the value of patience and persistence. As Iâ€™ve watered, Iâ€™ve pondered those with whom Iâ€™m relationally connected. Iâ€™ve wondered what it will mean for them to keep growing, and how I might participate in that. This has begun prayer and introspection.
Iâ€™ve needed to remove the broccoli. That was really difficult. It was large and impressive. But it was actually harming the growth of another. Iâ€™ve begun to inspect my own life, wondering what habits and attitudes are, in fact, choking the life of something else. Iâ€™ve begun to realise that the loss of a key person, a key leader, as essential part of the team, might in fact be an opportunity for another person to begin to fruitâ€”differently, uniquely. Which has provided a different perspective on the current movement within the team at Uniting College.
Last week I spoke on theological education in leadership formation. It was an academic paper that drew forth a range of academic challenges.
Perhaps I should have just told them about my eggplant. That theological education in leadership formation means planting, watering, removing, and enjoying.
Originally posted at Sustain:if:able Kiwi