The world may minimize, rationalize, deny, or medicate their losses, but God calls us to a different path in the new family of Jesus. Simply put, grieving well is a core discipleship issue – especially for those of us who lead. Consider a few of the great men and women in Scripture who were great grievers and great leaders: Isaiah, Hannah, Jeremiah, Moses, Mary, Paul, Peter, and most importantly, Jesus. Unless we courageously allow our losses to break open our hard hearts, we will project or inflict our unprocessed pain on others. But if we follow God’s pathway for us – paying careful attention to our pain, waiting with him in the confusing-in-between, and letting the old birth the new – we experience a stripping away of our false selves in order to become the new men and women we were truly meant to be. We move from spiritual babies with an incessant need. Read more.
I covered over my losses for years and years, unaware of how they were shaping my current relationships and leadership. God was seeking to enlarge my soul and mature me, while I was seeking a quick end to my pain. For my first seventeen years as a Christian, I treated grief as an interruption, an obstacle to my path to serve Jesus. In short, I considered taking time to grieve a waste of time that prevented me from maximizing my leadership. “Just get over it, Pete. It will pass,” I would mutter to myself. The problem here is that this is unbiblical and a denial of our common humanity. The ancient Hebrews physically expressed their laments by tearing their clothes and utilizing sackcloth and ashes. Jesus himself offered up prayer and petitions with loud cries and tears (Heb. 5:7). During Noah’s generation, Scripture indicates God was grieved about the state of humanity (Gen. 6).. Read more.
Last week at our two-day EHS Consultant Training, Wendy Seidman shared Bloom’s taxonomy of how people learn to help us understand why it takes so long for individuals and church/ministry cultures to “get” EHS. The following is her adaptation of Bloom’s classic work on the process people need to move through to really “get” something like EHS: 1- Aware. People hear about EHS for the first time (e.g. Sabbath, slowing down, past’s impact on the present, grieving, learning to feel). 2- Ponder. People think about it, trying to understand or sort through issues as they gather more information. At this point they don’t have a clear inclination for or against it. (e.g. They continue reading, listen to messages, go through the EHS Course, learn a few EHS Skills, talk about Sabbath with others). 3- Value. People think it’s important, find value in it, and commit to it, saying, “I really believe in this EHS. Read more.
I recently finished Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry (IVP,2008). I enjoyed it thoroughly and found a number of valuable insights for my own leadership at New Life. I recommend it to you. One unique insight was to clearly articulate the values of your leadership team as you enter into challenging, difficult discussions. The following is my first draft for our NLF staff team (Her team’s can be found on pp.176-178 of her book). 1. Personal Spiritual Transformation – We consistently labor to maintain balance in our lives as leaders, ensuring that we have time for prayer, rest, healthy relationships (play) and work. Our rhythms are our first work and foundational for both our lives and leadership. 2. Community – We are a microcosm of the larger New Life and seek to maintain and build unity in our relationships as Christ did with the Twelve. While the work itself can easily distract us away. Read more.
I am often asked, “Pete, what exactly is emotionally healthy spirituality?” The above chart describes her five different components. 1. Contemplative Spirituality (Slow Down to Be With God). EHS is a commitment to slow down our lives in order to create a rhythm to be with Jesus. It is about creating space through contemplative practices (e.g. Daily Offices, Sabbath-Keeping, silence, solitude and Scripture) so that we remain in Jesus’ love. We draw deeply from the radical movement of the desert fathers as well as Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist in order that we might love others out of the love we have first received from Jesus Himself. 2. Emotionally Healthy Discipleship – EHS recovers a number of lost biblical themes often ignored in evangelical discipleship. These include a theology of grieving (e.g. Psalms, Lamentations) and limits, of breaking the sinful patterns of our family of origin and cultures, loving well and brokenness as the basis by which we. Read more.