Interview: the new Bishop of St Germans
Reverend Christopher Goldsmith has just been announced as the new Bishop of St Germans in the Diocese of Truro. He speaks here about his new role and the kind of leader he aspires to be.
How does your experience to date fit you for the role of Bishop of St Germans?
After finding personal faith in Jesus Christ at University, for 25 years I worked in the Oil & Gas Industry. I was called to be a Christian presence within that organisation, to give of my best, to speak up for what was right, to protect the vulnerable, to challenge the powerful and to live a life of integrity and honesty. In combination with my service to local churches as a Reader, that seemed to be challenge and fulfilment enough.
I also had the privilege to work alongside some extraordinarily gifted men and women, often as their closest adviser. I gained firsthand insight into the exercise of different kinds of power and the effects it has both on the leader and the led. As well as leading others I have helped other leaders to become more aware and better at what they do.
Then as an ordained minister I worked in Pitsea, one of the most deprived parts of Basildon in Essex. I was one of very few 'professionals' in a community where disempowerment and dependency had over many years shaped the predominant culture. How could hope be born and nurtured in such a place?
Living in these two worlds simultaneously was an intense personal and formative experience, casting me back onto God.
How would you describe your style of leadership?
I continue to look for guidance and inspiration in the leadership of Jesus – I notice his insight, his focus and his playfulness, even in the midst of desperate situations.
As a master craftsman himself, I see him apprenticing a shockingly small number of others; he is willing to take the lead, but also to risk leaving things to a fallible few. He strives to avoid creating a debilitating dependency among his followers and can at times be radically unavailable.
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I see also his intent to make friends with those he leads by explaining the 'why' as well as the 'what'. Leaders get the respect they give to others. That is the kind of leader I aspire to be.
My own personal 'motto' is drawn from Jesus words to his followers on the eve of their first mission: "Therefore be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves".
Where will you be based?
I shall be working closely with Bishop Tim at Lis Escop and will draw support from the team based there. This will ensure that our shared pastoral oversight of the diocese is not only 'joined up' in its vision but also translated into an effective co-ordinated and practical approach to the tasks before us.
[Wife] Ellen and I will live in Tresillian.
Is there anything unusual about your pathway to ministry as Bishop of St Germans?
I was trained for ordination on the North Thames Ministerial Training Course. I believe this may make me the first 'course-trained' bishop and that this is a reflection of the changing nature of pathways into ordained ministry.