For years I heard the maxim: “Hire to your weaknesses.” A more important truism, however, might be: “Hire to minimize your toxicity.” I used to idealize gifted leaders who were “successful,” projecting on them a weight they could not bear. Getting close up to them always revealed their “dark” side, their limitations, and their toxicity. I found out they too were sinners, deeply impacted by the Fall just like me. What can we do then? None of us wants to unleash our toxicity into the organizations and communities we lead. Here are three suggestions: 1. Grow in Self-awareness. Ponder. Reflect. Invite feedback. Slow down to listen and ask questions. My 22 year old recently commented on the way I took for granted the time of a young New Life staff person who was waiting to meet with me. After defending myself for a few minutes, the Holy Spirit quietly whispered, “Shut up and listen.” I. Read more.
We need a radically different kind of spiritual formation of leaders in the 21st century. Rosy Kandithal, an assistant pastor/contemplative artist on our New Life staff team, is taking a year to learn at a monastery in Wisconsin. Why? To deepen her being and her roots in Jesus, to learn hiddenness with God, to learn to pray. She is going to learn Christian leadership from the margins. Scott Sunquist, Dean of Fuller’s School of Intercultural Ministry and one of the great historians of global church history of our day, writes:”from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries, Christian mission was kept alive not from the ecclesial center, but from them margins…The rise of monasticism was in part a missional renewal movement: to tear the church away from its early captivity to worldly power and riches.” In the famous School of the Persians at Nisibis, for example, over a thousand students lived in monastic cells. Trained. Read more.
“Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?” Jim Collins tells this story while a student at Stanford’s graduate business school. His teacher said to him, “Instead of leading a disciplined life, you lead a busy life.” This led Collins to make a major shift in his how he allocated the most precious of all resources: time. In his monograph Good to Great and the Social Sector, Collins argues that great organizations have piercing clarity about the intersection of three questions: 1) What are you deeply passionate about? 2) What can you be the best in the world at? 3) What drives your. Read more.
Yesterday’s attack at the Boston Marathon was tragic. What can we say to others? to ourselves? Where was God? I offer you two fragments that help me in times like this. 1. Be comfortable in being silent. Job’s three friends “wept aloud, tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was (Job 2:11-13). It is when they started talking that they got in trouble! Notice their presence “with him,’ i.e. Job, in his suffering. 2. The ultimate knowledge of God is to know that we do not know. Thomas Aquinas was a brilliant theologian who had written 20 very large volumes about who God is and how He works. On December 6, 1273 something happened to him that brought his teaching and writing to an end.. Read more.
“But they soon forgot what he had done, and did not wait for his counsel.” (Ps. 106:13). In other words, they did not wait for “God’s activity in and around them to unfold” (literal translation of the Hebrew). They were in too much of a hurry. They allowed mistrust and impatience to blind them. This may be our most difficult task. Like my friends in 12 steps groups for alcohol and drugs, I remain in recovery as an “impatient leader” who will wrestle till I die with the slow, unfolding plans of God. God is shaping the work we do for Him as an expert potter. There is no way we can understand what He is doing from our limited perspective as clay. We must do our due diligence in strategic planning, thinking, and setting goals. At the same time, we must pray with an open hand and wait. God’s plans always take time. Read more.
Pastoral busyness is a “blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for Him”(Hillary of Tours). I reread Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor in preparation for my sermon last week on Sabbath. Written 24 years ago, who would have imagined how much our busyness would have increased? A “busy pastor, ” he argues, is like being called an “embezzling pastor” or an “adulterous pastor.” Our calling is to pray, bring God’s word out of quietness and solitude, and to listen to others with unhurried leisure. The roots of our frenetic activity come from two sources, says Peterson: 1) vanity and 2) laziness (it is easier to let others decide how I will spend my time). Take a deep breath. Close your eyes for a 2-3 minutes. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7). Read Peterson’s book. Remember: It is very difficult, if not impossible, to lead people to a quiet place beside still. Read more.