Last year, a large psychiatric hospital in Queens opened up a small bookstore a few blocks from my house. The employees are “severely mentally ill adult patients.” I initially began going to buy cheap, second-hand books for $2.00 or less. But I have found myself returning more and more. Why? I finally got it. I return for my soul. I love being with the staff. They are kind, unassuming, and unpretentious. I finally understood why Henri Nouwen became a chaplain for mentally and physically challenged adults at L’Arche. His words below are worth reading slowly. “The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house for mentally handicapped people was their liking or disliking me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then. Since nobody could read my books, they could not impress anyone, and since most of them never went to. Read more.
One of the most important tasks for us as leaders is to keep our roles and souls connected. How much of your life is divided or involves pretending? How much of your life is wearing other people’s faces? Ananias and Sapphira were disconnected internally and, for all intents and purposes, stopped the great move of God in the book of Acts (see Acts 5:1-11). How do we live faithfully to our God-given, true selves when enormous pressure comes at us to put on a “pretend” self? In this message on “The Holy Spirit and Your Integrity,” I unpack this theme. At the end of this message I talk about our need for 3 things: 1. Space. We need times of letting go of our roles and our work life in order to listen deeply to our true selves in God. Nobody can do that inner work for us. 2. Suffering. Richard Rohr reminds us that. Read more.
Having too much to do in too little time is normal. Leighton Ford, my wise mentor for over 30 years, once told me: “Pete, the problem is that if you are faithful to Christ over the long-haul, the demands on your time and energy will only increase as you get older. This problem of having too much to do in too little time is never going away.” The great challenge is to lead yourself first. Consider the following reflections (written to myself) from my journal: Be calm and clear about yourself. You can only be clear about where you are and your own “true self in Christ.” Your inner tensions today are a call from God for additional time for prayer and reflection to wrestle with your “inner demons” so that you can to listen to His will and priorities (See Matthew 4:1-11). Hold onto what God has given you to do and do. Read more.
Augustine once said that God is always trying to give good things to us but our hands are too full to receive them. Roslyn H. Wright, a Director of Field Education at Whitley College in Australia, visited me in NYC recently. The following are reflections out of her work with seminary students around “Incarnational goal setting”: 1. God’s calls us to courageously lead out of our ‘true self.’ “The problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self” (Thomas Merton). God gives to each of us a “manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” with a unique working out of that gift in the Body and the world. The forces, internal and external, that move us away from that place of leading from within are enormous. 2. Prayer, particularly the Examen, along with a trusted community, is the foundation for. Read more.
Today we will launch our first “Silent” sermon at New Life. I will introduce the theme of how God met Elijah in “the sound of sheer silence” (1 Kings 19:10-18) for 5 minutes. This will be followed by a 25 minute power point slide show of images, quotes, and guided silence. We then will close it out with a few words and be dismissed in silence. (www.newlifefellowship.org). What better way to teach a biblical truth than actual experiencing it? I have been preparing for this by reading and gathering insights about silence for the past few months. I am convinced, more than ever, that silence remains one of the most powerful ways God transforms us. As Kathleen Norris once said, “The ordinary, daily practice of silence is a prophetic stance in our world of noise. It is one of the greatest gifts we can offer the world.” The following are a few rich quotes around silence for you to ponder that. Read more.
It is ironic that Christmas is often the time we as pastors find ourselves least centered on Jesus. With the emergence of social media and new technologies, this problem has reached proportions. The following is an adaption of my top 10 lessons for leadership applied to this Advent season. 1. Be yourself. You and I are uniquely crafted by God to lead. That means we cannot do what others can. You may be able to do more or less. The great challenge of leadership is to calmly differentiate your “true self” from the demands and voices around you. Discern the desires, vision, pace, and mission the Father has given as you lead. Take off Saul’s armor. How much activity can you sustain without losing your soul? And remember, “to live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage” (Rumi). 2. Your first work is to be contemplative before God (to be with him). Our. Read more.