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Ruth.jpg“Someone has said that we are not human beings trying to become spiritual but spiritual beings trying to become human.”

I’m not quite sure what that set of options means, but it pushes against the tendency for Christian leaders to be gnostic — and Ruth Haley Barton, in her new book, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry
, guides pastors in spiritual discernment and how to craft a life where their own spiritual life emerges into leadership.

If you are a pastor and dry, if you are know periods that are arid, and if you are in search — not of a quick fix but of a solid set of reflections on how to get your life back in order, I heartily recommend buying this book, going on a 3 day retreat, and working through it — one chp every three or four hours.

For leaders: How do you integrate your personal life and your own transformation with your leadership?

Long ago I read a short study by BB Warfield on the spiritual life for pastors (anyone know the reference?), and I thought at that time and I think to this day that more attention needs to be given to specialized focus on helping pastors become more spiritual. How odd to say that, but the reality is this: spirituality is the routine business of the pastor and the more spirituality becomes routine, the more difficult it is for the sheer mystery and delight in God’s presence can become.


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Ruth Haley Barton, known for her studies on solitude and prayer and contemplation, guides The Transforming Center, and has become a specialist in guiding leaders back into a spiritual life and for guiding pastors further into a spiritual life. She takes Moses as her guide in this book, and probes the following journey: what lies beneath your own life, your own ongoing conversion, learning to listen and pay attention to yourself and to what God is doing, the sense of a calling, guiding others,  living within your limits, and developing spiritual rhythms.

Her chp on spiritual disciplines for leaders is a gold mine of insight.

She then explores leadership as intercession, loneliness in leadership, leadership community, finding God’s will together, and reenvisioning the promised land.

The secret contribution to this book is that combination of the practice of spiritual disciplines, spiritual discernment, and leadership — those in the last group know they need the former.

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