Rev. Terry Riley

Rev. Terry Riley
Keeping the Faith in the Biblebelt

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Leadership in Paganism

A Leader: "A person who is willing to do what others aren't willing to do."

I have been training students in the SDCW - ATC to become leaders for the past twenty years. One of the biggest obstacles they face is understanding Transference Reactions. That is when people transfer and carry over, to leaders, their own habits, perceptions, interpretations, emotional responses, and interactions that they formed from experiences in earlier times.
Every leader, especially Coven leaders, (High Priest/Priestess) Pagan Clergy, become convenient targets for Transference Reactions. The difficulty here is for the leader to keep their ego in check. To not take things to personally and understand that most of these reactions are growth experiences and psychological transference. Psychologically speaking, the "Leader" is the "Big Person:" the parent, teacher, the authority figure, and they are the standard against which the congregation judge themselves. "They will resent that you are not perfect and subconsciously they are terrified you are not." At times some will even be rebellious, finding reasons to fight with you, this is when the leader has the stay grounded and centered. For the anger maybe directed at you, it is not about you. It is merely a psychological transference reaction.
The old axiom, "If you got enemies: good, that means your doing something" especially applies to people in leadership roles. Clergy Therapists are idealized. If your are in a dual wisdom role, both the all-powerful Priest/Priestess and the all-compassionate counselor, you're on the pedestal before you ever begin your work.
Therefore it takes a while to train someone to be a leader, unless their a natural. In paganism a leader needs a good working knowledge of Philosophy and Theology, knowledge of human behavior, personalities, ethics, practices and customs, motivation, emotional disorders, coordination of people and methods, administration and business, social skills, and self control.
One of the most important qualities that I feel a Pagan Clergy leader should possess is the ability to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. I have found over the years that, "People don't care how much you know; until they first know how much you care."
I conclude on a quote of one definition of Clergy: "One who has a religious mission. A task which is destined in life, that is divinely inspired." To me it is a "Calling."