But you seem to have it all so together! Why wouldn’t you want to be a more in the open Pagan figure?
There are a lot of people that are puzzled over the way I deal with the concept of being a “leader.” Why would I not want to step out into the wider Pagan community and become a more public leader? Well, there are a lot of factors to the perspective I hold, some of which are leftovers from my time in the Air Force, and some that I have figured out for myself. So, perhaps Its time to explore some of this a bit more.
Military Influence Towards Leadership
I admit, most of my concepts towards being a leader come directly from my time in the Air Force. Before I was considered to be “inappropriate” by a charismatic Christian leadership, I was sent to the Airman Leadership Course and the Non-Commissioned Officers Preparatory School to learn about the concepts and ideas of leadership. I was never greater than an average student in either, but the ideas I learned there have stuck with me throughout my life.
A leader never seeks the spotlight for themselves. The spotlight is always reserved for this that one works with. This is probably the greatest concept that drives my life – both in the Pagan community and in my professional life. If I task that I worked on gets showcased as being “awesome work”, my first response is to pull everyone else into the spotlight with me that helped out. No matter how small their role was. If there is going to be praise handed out, its going to be handed out everywhere.
Another concept that drives my life is dealing with scolding or criticism. One-on-one, its given privately not publicly. Furthermore, as a leader, if there is public criticism to be had, the leader takes the public blame, and then tries to find how the issue happened privately. It gets fixed privately and the blame stays internal to the group. If the issue is severe enough, the leader administers the punishment and does so privately away from the rest of the group and the public.
From what I was taught, leadership is done more behind closed doors than out in the public eye. This is why I do not seek a public standing of being a “leader”. A public standing of a leader is, from my perspective, someone who makes wide arching proclamations and expects others to do the necessary work. Public leadership is not where I prefer to be. I want to be where the work gets done, not where the speeches get made.
Personal Perspective of Leadership
Like I stated earlier, most of my perspective of leadership comes from what I have learned and understood in my military training. As a conceptual thought, this works. But when the rubber meets the road (so to speak), leadership is about much more than concepts of how to praise publicly and scold privately. Leadership is about rolling up your sleeves and doing. For me, groups are not particularly conducive to this concept, particularly with the work I get tasked to do.
I work with two First Nations’ Trickster Gods – Coyote and Crow. I also work with a Germanic Goddess, Abonoba, though that relationship is still be fine-tuned. Most of my devotional work is done through and for Them. So my usual work does not involve groups or even other people. So there is not always a perspective of being a leader there. There is; however, a perception of leadership that comes through. When others see or hear of what work I am doing, I can become an example to them of what can and cannot be done when working with my Gods. Its not a true template, because everyone’s relationship with their own Gods will be different. But the perspective of work can be an example of what can be done – as a start in their own relationships. So I have that influence of leadership there…even if its seemingly only a short glance through a heavily wooded forest.
I have always felt that the best bits of leadership that I can provide are through this blog – writing about my own experiences, my own successes and failures. Not to show where not to walk or what not to do – but to show how perseverance and patience help make one a better Pagan, Polytheist, Druid, Wiccan or what have you. Because the failures are just as necessary to be your best as the successes are.
Do I want the fame and notoriety that goes with being a public Pagan that talks about these experiences, successful or not? Not really. Its nice to be recognized over what I do and say, but I am no more sage and wise than anyone else on these Paths. The difference between myself and someone brand new to their concept of Paganism is merely that I have been at this since 1986. In my own mind, so what? All it means is that I have been at this for a long time. I envy the new Seeker on the Path….all the experiences that they have ahead of themselves – all the exploration – all the newness of what they find. I would never take that feeling of newness away from them by coloring it with my own tired, old experiences.
Being a leader isn’t about hawking my books (which I’ve not written) or my blog, which can show you where I have made the mistakes. Being a leader is about keeping my mouth shut, stepping back, and letting the new Pagans experience all this for themselves for the first time. And then being there to help them explain some of the more mind-blowing experiences to their over-loaded minds.
Perhaps, my perception of leadership is far different from your own. I can grok that very easily. Everyone experiences the same phenomenon differently. My perception does not have to be yours. But it most certainly, is mine.