Original Research

Exploring the characteristic of prophetic-liminality in ministerial leadership: A necessary ethic for contemporary South Africa

J. Slater
Theologia Viatorum | Vol 40, No 1 | a13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/tv.v40i1.13 | © 2019 J. Slater | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 May 2019 | Published: 25 July 2016

About the author(s)

J. Slater, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Abstract

This article explores the prophetic liminality of Christian leadership as it is practiced against the contextual backdrop of social, ecclesial and ethical upheavals such as secularism, relativism, sexism, corruption, violence, crime, women abuse, xenophobia, disbelief and disillusionment in authority both in church and state. It argues for an up-to-date and leading-edge church-ministerial response to modern-day situations. It proposes liminal and innovative leadership for both church and state. However, the liminal quality is specifically aligned with the prophetic dimension of leadership. A prophet's leadership is here understood as visionary leadership that challenges and directs people beyond the ordinary, and confronts that which is unethical in society. Liminal here implies being and functioning at the cutting-edge of events, trailbracing and by steering away from the conventional approaches. Sadly, because leadership had become enmeshed with the systemic designs of the church, society, economics, culture or tribe, it demands to be interjected with an exceptional characteristic to minister both directly and at the same time indirectly to problematic situations. In the words of Diarmud O’Murchu, for a leader to function liminally s/he needs to be on the doorstep or on the horizon of everything contemporary. For leaders to stay in force and relevant implies living with innovative freedom, with human-divine recklessness and with honest integrity. In turn for liminality to be an effective quality in leadership, it involves being spiritually and morally courageous and particularly attuned to a transcendent capacity. This enables the leader to move with the ever changing circumstances of our times, into different situations and cultures, thus devising and applying different responses that constantly accommodate new possibilities The article carves out a theological and a directional itinerary for ministerial leadership that offers a liminal-prophetic liminal–transcendent challenge to leadership today. Liminal transcendent leadership pleads not to be dictated by ecclesial or social conventions and neither by personal conventions. Liminal leadership is by nature a painful search for an appropriate response to what is new, for that which is different in contemporary scenarios.

Keywords

liminality; ministerial leadership; human-divine recklessness; innovative spaces and freedom; graced companionship; prophetic ministry

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