For years I heard the maxim: “Only the one who has learned to be silent is prepared to speak.” I would also add: “Only the one who has learned to be silent is prepared to lead.” Think about it: Paul, after his conversion, spent three years in a silent retreat in Arabia. Jesus spent thirty years of silence until he opened his mouth and began to teach. John the Baptist spent his adult life in the desert before he brought a word from God. Ezekiel said, “For seven days I sat in silence and was dumbfounded.” Job seven days in silence until he opened opened his mouth in anguish. Habbakkuk and Samuel waited before the Lord before they spoke. How can we learn to lead out of silence in the midst of our noisy world and churches? Slowly practice silence…. before, during, and after our words. This is a life work, and it can. Read more.
Participants came from 17 different countries and 30 states, from the largest church in one state to urban storefronts in another, from the Congo to Germany. What struck me, nonetheless, was how similar we are, and how our struggles in leadership are universal. Three major insights emerged, for me, out of our conference: 1. Sabbath-Keeping as a spiritual formation practice is countercultural and extremely difficult for leaders in all cultures and contexts around the world. It truly is the starting point to slow down our lives. 2. Truth-telling is rare in all cultures. One of our pastors modeled “Climb the Ladder of Integrity” out of the Emotionally Healthy Skills 2.0 curriculum. His public admission, and correction, of a simple lie with a New Life coworker shook the conference. 3. The Western church has much to learn from dialogue with the African, Latino, and Asian churches. I was deeply challenged, for example, by the Liberians. Read more.
I have been teaching pastors and leaders about Sabbath-keeping for over a decade. Why is it then that so few actually stop to receive this wonderful gift (Mark 2:27)? The root answer lies, I believe, in the place from which we have our sense of self. If our sense of self comes from our work, accomplishments, or ministry, then stopping our work to can be quite terrifying. It touches our deep anxieties about our own deaths. Many of us come carry a great deal of shame, an intensely painful feeling or experience of being flawed. It may come from a background of abuse (as was my history), or a deep well of pain and regret. We feel unworthy of the rich delights and love God offers us in Sabbath. It is easier to just keep working –even if our lives are spinning out of control. Sabbath is about letting ourselves be seen by God. Sabbath. Read more.