Leadership is a partnership. Just as some of my peak moments occur when I am helping to bring out the best in my congregation, others occur when the people of the congregation are bringing out the best that I have to give. I had one of those moments this past Sunday. I’d changed my topic the moment I heard the news (and oh, how glad I was that I’d turned on the computer. I could have found out about Tucson on Sunday morning on my way in to church . . . ). I didn’t have the kind of time for reflection and writing that I usually do, but that was how it had to be.

Looking down at the mishmash of paragraphs and margin notes and don’t-forget-to-mentions in my hand as I came to the pulpit, I was very tempted to preface the sermon with an apology, which was really an excuse: “Please bear with me if this isn’t as cohesive as I’d like. I was up most of the night, I’m sure you understand . . . ” But that would be a disservice to the listeners.

So I just plunged in. I spoke from the heart, and a bruised and uncertain heart it was, and I could do that because my congregation values it. Sure they want the preacher to make sense, but they care most about passion and are willing to bounce over the rough spots. Because they’ve made that clear, I could let go of my own nerves about wanting to give a more polished presentation than was possible, and give them the passion. They are making me a better preacher all the time. I’m so happy they’re my partners in this ministry.