Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Where Spiritual Leadership Comes From

(Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio)

I take one afternoon off during the week to meet with God and pray. To listen. To what God wants to say to me. I expect our church's staff to do the same.  

I have been doing this for forty-three years. I write about what I have learned from doing this in my book Praying: Reflections on Forty Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

I have been teaching pastors and Christians leaders, since my 1977 seminary class at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, to spend much time with God as the necessary foundation of their ministry.

Most pastors and Christian leaders don't do something like this. They don't have a significant praying life. They have shared this with me. (I estimate I've taught almost four thousand in seminaries, conferences, retreats, and one-on-one.) 

A significant praying life looks like Jesus, as early in the morning, as was his habit, he went to a lonely place, where he prayed. 

If Jesus did this, who do I think I am not to do this? Perhaps I am God Almighty?

Spiritual leadership depends on this. To lead spiritually, you must spend significant time with God (it's a relationship), to include speaking with and listening to God. There is no substitute for this. Being too busy for this doesn't count.

Ruth Haley Barton writes:

"Spiritual leadership emerges from our willingness to stay involved with our own soul—that place where God’s Spirit is at work stirring up our deepest questions and longings to draw us deeper into relationship with him. Staying involved with our soul is not narcissistic navel gazing; rather, this kind of attentiveness helps us stay on the path of becoming our true self in God—a self that is capable of an ever-deepening yes to God’s call on our life." (Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, pp. 25-26)