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Lamenting Leadership

Posted on May 17th, 2010

What might it mean for the leadership of a church or ministry to embrace the lamenting of loss as part of her life together?  What might it mean for your life or mine? I have spent the last two weeks absorbed in the book of Lamentations, reading, meditating, pondering, and praying the words of Jeremiah as my own. The exercise was transformative and, yes, quite painful. What is most interesting is that in I have written chapters on grief and loss in two different books. Yet I felt like I was approaching the theme for the first time. What did God show me anew? 1. Both the love of God and suffering are foundational paths to genuine transformation. Suffering opens us up uniquely to God, ourselves and others, forcing us to slow down and reflect. I have missed transforming moments from God, both personally and for New Life, because of my unwillingness to remain in the losses. I want to move on as quickly as possible to the next “new thing” from God. In doing so I miss the next “new thing” from God. 2. Loss and suffering must be swallowed and not simply tasted. Jeremiah swallows the suffering and loss of Jerusalem’s destruction in 586 BC. He allows the loss to do God’s work in and through him. I prefer to taste my losses and not swallow /digest them.  That takes time alone with God, reflection, and thoughtfulness. It is very hard, if not impossible, to do that while busy and distracted. Two weeks ago I lead a strategic leadership day with some of our staff poorly. I rushed and violated my own values around integrating prayer and the contemplative into our planning. I also failed to listen to consolations and desolations for guidance throughout our time together. I left  the day filled with regrets and exhaustion. As I grieve that minor loss before God, the “hard to swallow” riches continue to flow. God continues to speak to me about me, about Him, and about how He wants to guide and work in New Life. 3. The amount of time needed to wait in the “confusing in-between” of loss is much longer than I care to admit.  The unrelenting demands and needs of others can obscure the precious gifts of God has for us in the losses and setbacks  He allows. Slowly unpacking these gifts takes a lot of time. The implication of living a theology of grief and loss for leaders is far reaching. What else do you think must die for us to embrace the lamenting of loss as part of our lives –both individually and corporately?

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Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives