For the first 1500 years of the church, singleness was considered the preferred state; it was considered the best way to serve Christ if you were a leader. Singles sat in the front of the church. Marrieds were sent to the back. After the Reformation in 1517 AD, single people were sent to the back and marrieds moved to the front – at least among Protestants. Yet the New Testament describes, and deeply affirms, two types of Christian singles. The first is a vowed celibacy, for those who “renounce marriage because of the kingdom of heaven.” They freely choose not to marry but to set themselves apart in a total, exclusive and lifelong gift to Christ and His church. A very few are invited to receive this grace and gift from him (Matt. 19:11-12). The vast majority of Christian single leaders fall into the category of dedicated celibates. This term encompasses a broad range. Read more.
Insight… I have some work to do… Hallelujah for Revelation, Freedom, and JESUS!! …read more
Emotionally healthy spirituality (EHS) invites us to supervise and lead others, volunteer or paid, differently. Studies indicate that EQ (emotional quotient) is so critical that it accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs (Emotional Intelligence 2.0). EHS, with a much deeper commitment to transformation, accounts for a much higher percentage. In fact, emotional health trumps IQ, personality, education, experience, and gifts for church leaders. For example: John is a gifted, productive church planter, but the chaotic nature of his family of origin in his early history drives him to dominate and control every environment where he leads. Joan is so cautious and fearful of change as an executive assistant (coming out of her abuse growing up) that it colors the events she administers. Ron’s anxiety to grow the church and launch new initiatives comes partially out of a family script that says, “You are worthless unless you do something great.” We. Read more.
When I asked my PhD friend to reflect, after over 30 years of therapy with high-powered executives and pastors, why leaders have such a difficult time stopping and being still. He laughed. “Pete,” he replied with a smile, “They are terrified. They can’t stop. Their self is so tied into achievement, into their doing and work, they are afraid they will die if they stop.” This Isenheim Altarpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald some time between 1512 and 1516 captures the intense struggle to die to the false self. We see ugly demons trying to torment Anthony of Athanasius to leave the place of solitude with Jesus. Each of us needs to fashion our own desert where we can withdraw and allow the gentle touch of Jesus free us. The shape of the discipline of solitude will look different for each of us. But one thing is sure — a fruitful life can only flow out. Read more.
Henri Nouwen writes in The Way of the Heart that “solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude we remain victims of society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self.” He explores how we can fashion our own desert where we can withdraw (since we are not in a monastery), shake off our compulsions, and cultivate a life in the presence of the Jesus. “Solitude,” he writes, “is not simply a means to an end. Solitude is its own end. It is the place where Christ remodels us in his own image and frees us.” Nouwen notes that since our secular culture does not offer us spiritual disciplines, we have to cultivate our own. “We are responsible for our own solitude,” he argues. I believe the baby step to begin the pathway to this kind of transforming solitude is Sabbath-keeping. I have yet to find a detour around this. Read more.
Geri and I were asked a couple of months ago how do you know if it is time to quit and get serious about this journey we call emotionally healthy spirituality. This was recently published in Knowing When to Say “I Quit” – 10 Ways to Know It is Time to Quit- Beliefnet.com Take a few minutes to see how many of the following ten statements apply to you. It may be time for you to quit. 1. You need the approval of others to feel good about yourself. 2. You are angry, sad, or disappointed and feel guilty about it. 3. You believe you don’t have choices. 4. You do for others what they can and should do for themselves. 5. Your rarely consider your own hopes and dreams because of your focus on others. 6. You say “yes’ when you would rather say “no”. 7. You have difficulty speaking up when you disagree. Read more.