Clericalism is fundamentally an abuse of power. One does not overcome clericalism by ignoring the authority of the priest or the need for the priest to lead, but rather by understanding that the fundamental character of leadership is to serve not be served.
The greatest threat to the effectiveness of a priest is not primarily theological or even political. In fact, priests who view their community primarily through the lens of political and theological loyalties are most at risk at failing to effectively lead. The greatest antidote to clericalism is not a new theology which gets rid of the sacred character of Holy Orders, but rather effective leadership and management skills.
The greatest quality in a pastor and in lay leadership is a willingness to set aside personal preference. To adapt to circumstances is fundamentally a political activity. By this I mean that involves the cooperation and interconnection of people rather than a strict observance of theology purity, either liberal or conservative.
Most problems that a pastor faces are not theological in nature. Most crises do not directly relate to a field of theological inquiry.
Yes, there is a place for orthodoxy and effective catechesis. But I have seen liberal and conservative parishes that have a good parish culture and those that have a toxic environment. The difference between healthy and toxic has little to do with theology.
Informal power is the influence one person has over another in which there is not a direct obligation. Formal power is directly tied to the exercise of an office or position within a command structure. Effective leaders use informal power more often than formal.
Being an effective pastor is about having informal power and sharing formal power. Informal power is generally more important, and one attains informal power by effectively sharing formal power with competent people.
Sharing power with incompetent and fringe people is always a bad idea.
One gains informal power by investing in others. By this, one is able to build synergy whereby shared power positively impacts multiple parties and organizations simultaneously.
Building cooperation and synergy is the key to expanding one’s influence. The more one is able to share the fruit of their labor for others, the more good will is established and networks which allow people to be effective.
Your lucid exposition of the nature of power – both informal and formal – should be taken to heart by everyone – especially the lay faithful.
The effectiveness of formal power depends to a large extent on the informal power of the lay faithful. The fact that the lay faithful have more opportunities to interact personally on a daily basis with one another builds a basis for trust.
Thank you for this perceptive observation and for making it widely available.im convinced that if one doesn’t trust the person one will probably not trust the theology associated with that person.