This post is part of series on Leading Spiritually. Before reading it you may want to check out the first two posts in the series:
Where are We Leading?
Dysfunctional images of God and of God’s purposes for us have created dysfunctional view of spiritual leadership. In my last post I said: The central purpose of spiritual leadership is to become co-creators with God in bringing into being a community that is at one with God and with each other. Together we can shine with the presence of Jesus and model the love of God in such a way that others are drawn to believe in God. If we truly believe that at the heart of the universe there is a loving, caring Creator whose deepest longing is to draw us into into intimacy with himself our leadership will reflect that. If we really believe that God’s central passion is the restoration of all creation into a restored community of love and mutual care, that will become our central passion too.
About five years ago the MSA team started a journey into this type of leadership model. We began in a time of retreat asking a question we continue to ask and discern that I think is at the core of all spiritual leadership is: What is God’s vision for the future and what part of this vision does God want our community to grab hold of and live out together?
We started by reflecting on God’s vision for the future. The rich imagery of the creation story introduces us to a world where God, human beings and the creation live in harmony and mutual concern. Theologian Howard Snyder equates this beautiful, mutually dependent world with shalom. He explains: “On the seventh day God created shalom – the crown and goal of all his work.”
The crown and goal of all God’s work was a community of people living and working together in harmony and mutual trust, caring for creation and relating personally to their God who walked in the garden with them. And God looked at all that had been created with complete satisfaction. (Gen 1:27,28,31)
Shalom is a corporate vision embracing the entire world community. The segregation into small ethnocentric cultural groups that occurred at Babel is reversed and all people are reconciled and again walk in harmony and understanding together. As we walk together toward God’s mountain, the instruments of war become the instruments of peace (Is 2:2-5, Mic 4:1-4) the lame are healed (Is 35: 4-7), the oppressed set free and justice comes for the poor. Shalom even encompasses and our rediscovery of God’s call to be stewards of creation. God did not create us to live as isolated individuals but as men and women together, in a harmonious interdependent community, caring for each other and for the entire created order.
From the time humanity was excluded from the Garden, the object of all of God’s work has been the recovery of shalom in creation and the restoration and renewal of all that was ruptured at the Fall. Amazingly, God asks us to be a part of that restoration. All Christ followers have a new job to do, to join with God in restoring, renewing and healing all that was distorted and broken by sin. We are heading towards a world of shalom. Our shared journey can show people how to live in shalom, how to share God’s shalom, and how to bring God’s shalom to the world.
What would the shalom of God look like if it was fully realized in our midst and how does God want us to live and operate to bring that into reality?