The Practitioner Corner: Leading by Listening

By Ginger Emden, CS

As a Christian Science practitioner, one of the most important things I’ve learned is this: We are all practitioners.

That lesson showed up beautifully while supporting the adventure trip of a DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council (NLC) class this past summer. We arrived in Maine, greeted both by mosquitos and our NLC counterpart class. We were excited to go whitewater rafting and hiking, among other rugged outdoor activities on our itinerary.

Ginger (left) with members of the 2025K NLC class on their adventure trip

Early in the trip, we learned that one of the class leaders tested positive for COVID-19. We agreed that he should step back from the program and dedicate himself to healing work. (Read the story, “Prayer Overcomes Threat of Contagion on NLC Adventure Trip.” )

Through the ensuing days, I witnessed healers coming out of the woodwork! Even though DiscoveryBound designated a Christian Science practitioner to travel with and minister to the needs of NLC classes, this was an opportunity to demonstrate that we are all healers. The work of a Christian Science practitioner never has a hierarchy or dependency on a single person, but realizes the complete and perfect work of God – and in this instance, there was group support in this understanding.

When I spoke with the departing class leader, we discussed the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:12-19) featured in that week’s Bible Lesson. It’s funny how the Bible is perceived as an antiquated text, but a lot of concerns people in the Bible faced, we also face today. The ten lepers story is one about contagion and the fear of contagion. The most salient idea that came to me to share with the class leader was that all ten were healed. Of course, gratitude is paramount to healing, but so is the idea that healing isn’t restricted. No one could be left out of the full dawning of spiritual Truth in the case of the ten lepers or in our NLC class.

When we told the teens about their class leader, a few students conveyed their concerns about having COVID symptoms, so we held a midday testimony meeting led by a student on the theme, “trials are proofs of God’s care.” The testimonies and readings were inspiring, and reminded us, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). We had the tools to overcome fear at each step.

Effective leadership

That same day, a colleague flew from the Midwest to step in as a mentor, support the class and be a third driver. This was key, as we needed another driver to get to our hiking spot the next day. It was amazing to see how he seamlessly jumped in to hike the tallest mountain in Maine. His healing attitude enabled his group to reach the summit. Steadily, we heard back from the COVID testing center where the group had been tested that the rest of the class was negative.

I loved how the class leader who needed to retreat to a location offsite became a class practitioner as well. He supported the class with his prayers and sent inspiration to us. The parents, mentors and NLC staff were right on it with prayers and insights, too. We were soaking up Truth at each step.

Though it wasn’t at all the trip we planned, it was a wonderful, moment-by-moment exercise to trust God completely. During one journaling session, teens were asked, “What are effective and ineffective examples of leadership?” My prayers yielded this new outlook on leadership: Leadership isn’t about self-importance, having all the answers or human credentials. Effective leadership happens when you allow yourself to be utterly led by God.

Leaders and healers share that unique capacity to be led by God. We each have a part to play. We are able and ready healers. Sometimes, it takes courage to step up and speak Truth in the face of fear or contagion. But if NLC holds to one of its main principles, “encourage the heart,” then encouraging each other as leaders and healers is the very thing we’re here to do.

This column includes messages from a different Christian Science practitioner each season. If you’d like to request a topic for our next issue, please email us at [email protected].

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