Parker Palmer’s work on the seasons is among the best I have read. The following is a part of what Geri used with our NLF staff team this past Tuesday to help us anchor ourselves in Him. There are few things more important for us as leaders than discerning the season of God -personally and corporately: Winter is a demanding season – and not everyone appreciates the discipline. It is a season when death’s victory can seem supreme: few creatures stir, plants do not visibly grow, and nature feels like our enemy. And yet the rigors of winter, like the diminishments of autumn, are accompanied by amazing gifts. One gift is beauty. I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow. Another gift is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things. But, for me,. Read more.
A friend recently asked Pete and I for some of the books that have most shaped our journey with Christ.I was surprised at how easily several came to my mind. I noticed a couple things: I follow authors more than books so each author is a person whom I respect and resonate with. I love books that, for me, are profound but nuanced in very practical ways. I read them more than once. I read them slowly and prayerfully. Here are my first three: 1. Let Your Life Speak… Parker Palmer 2. A Hidden Wholeness….Parker Palmer These two books articulated for me the essential truth that life is lived from the inside out. Leadership/churches can have all the “best” programs in the world but if one is not in touch with the interior movements of their heart, then life is just a matter of adjusting chairs on the Titanic. Doing must flow from being.. Read more.
Geri and I have been deeply influenced in how we lead teams and small groups by Circles of Trust developed by Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage to Renewal http://www.couragerenewal.org/ . The insights from Circles of Trust form the backdrop and foundation of our efforts to create healthy community at New Life. In fact just last month we launched our small group of 22 people! The following are a few sample guidelines we shared with our small group at our first meeting: Speak for Yourself – Use “I” statements as much as possible. No Fixing, Saving, or Advising – Jesus alone is the Savior Turn to Wonder – If you feel judgemental or defensive when someone is sharing, ask yourself, “I wonder what brought him/her to this belief?” “I wonder what my reaction teaches me about me?” Silence – It is okay to have silence between responses as the group shares, giving members opportunity to reflect. Share for Yourself,. Read more.
Without an unswerving commitment to our own inner journey as leaders, it is inevitable that we will inflict unconscious violence on others. “If we skimp on our inner work, our outer work will suffer as well” (Parker Palmer). When I take the necessary time to do my own inner work, I am much more patient. I am able to wait for people to grow in their own way according to God’s timetable. I am able to wait for insights to germinate and blossom before teaching them to others. I am able to wait before making decisions or setting goals prematurely (even if it does frustrate those around me). I am able to resist the temptation to save or fix people, to want to coerce them into meeting my own needs. Leadership is a dangerous place if we are not reflective. In our busyness and overscheduled lives, we can inflict a subtle violence on others. Read more.
For the past few weeks I have been reading, pondering and praying about what integrity actually is. Consider this definition : Integrity is when who I am on-stage is the same as who I am back-stage. It is when there is no separation between what is going on inside of me and what I am expressing outside of me. There is no separation of my inner and outer life. Easier said than done! I realize how easy it is for me to get so concerned with what is going on outside of me (my activity) that I lose touch with my soul. There becomes a gap between the inner ground, the center, my values and beliefs, my being and the actual life I am living. I can easily preach and write things I am not living!! To live congruent and internally consistent is difficult. This is integrity! This is what Parker Palmer has called. Read more.