Nurturing the Poet & Prophet

In this election season, I’d like to invite you to explore two leadership competencies that I believe are essential for 21st century change makers: that of poet and prophet.  Now, before you say that you are neither a poet or prophet, I would ask that you hang in there with me.  I’m not asking you to begin writing poetry (although you might surprise yourself).  Nor am I asking you to become a modern-day Elijah (contemporary prophets come in many forms).  Rather, I am asking you to approach your daily tasks from the perspective of both the poet and prophet.

Articulators of Experience

First, some working definitions. Alan Roxburgh describes poets as: 

The articulators of experience and the rememberers of tradition.  They image and symbolize the unarticulated experience of the community, identifying and expressing the soul of the people.  The poet is a listener and an observer, sensing the experience of the body and giving that experience a voice.

Many voices compete for our allegiance.  The poet helps us to remember who we are that we might reclaim the integrity of core identity and character.  Beyond the quick fix, beyond the challenges of our times, the poet helps to draw people into hope for the future.  Through image and story, the poet shapes meaning out of chaos that memories might be shared and new visions emerge.  The poet weaves together the disparate (and often, dissonant) voices into a rich tapestry of story and meaning that neither reduces, nor eliminates creative tensions, but rather nurtures exploration of new collective possibilities.   

The Voice of Truth

But, as Roxburgh points out, “Without the prophetic voice, poetic leadership is little more than adaptation and consolation.”    The prophetic voice is the voice of truth.  As we come to claim the truth about their present state of being – the good, the bad, and the ugly – we are invited into a paradoxical experience of loss and hope.   Nurturing community in the 21st century involves a delicate dance of repentance as we acknowledge real concerns and delight as we yield to the possibilities born of an alternative vision.

Taken Together

Taken together, nurturing the poet and prophet sets us free to invite the larger community into a place compassion can be nurtured for the flourishing of all.  So, to begin, I invite you to reacquaint yourself with poetic and prophetic voices who have shaped your life.  

Deep peace,



Reacquaint yourself with the poet and prophet within!

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