The following post is part of a series on Leading Spiritually. Check out the other posts in this series:
How Are We Leading?
How do we become good leaders? Ruth Hayley Barton in her book Strengthening the Soul of a Leader affirms that a leadership team is at core a spiritual community gathered around the presence of Christ to discern and carry out God’s will for the community be that a church, a small group, or a ministry organization. She says:
Learning to come together and stay together in unity is our first and most enduring task as we pattern our relationships after Christ’s relationships with his disciples. “He loved his own to the end” (John 13:1; John 15 & 17). To compromise our community would be to compromise our essence and the we would not have much that is of value to offer to others. (p176)
What an incredibly powerful and challenging statement. The way to become a good leader is not to focus on our own spiritual growth or life skills but to enter into a journey with a community in which we all grow together into the people that God intends us to be. Obviously this does require strong commitment to growing our individual faith and seeing our individual lives transformed but it requires much more than that.
Ruth Barton goes on to share that a leadership community at its best is:
- Finding ways to be open to the presence of Christ in our midst.
- Attending to our relationships by listening to each other, caring for each other and praying for each other
- Resting and retreating together not to move our business meetings to another location but so that we can pray together, listen to our journeys, eat together and enjoy each other.
- Living within its limits. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses, knowing what God has called us to do and learning to say no to what is outside these limits is extremely important
- Moving forward in in its work on the basis of discernment rather than human planning or strategic maneuvering. (p179 – 183).
These are all challenges that the MSA team has grappled with over the last few years as we have sort to become a community that discerns and carries out the will of God for both us as individuals and for Mustard Seed Associates as an organization. Some of that journey I have shared here on this blog as we have embraced the Quaker discernment process, learned the value of organic strategic planning organically and become more of an organization that Plans with Spiritual Formation at the Centre.
I must confess however that it is easy to allow my life and the life of the Mustard Seed team to stray from values. The busier we get, the less time we want to take for sharing ad caring. Busyness is not of the devil, busyness is the devil. As my husband Tom Sine commented in his book The New Conspirators this extremely high level of busyness results in God being marginalized in our lives and “Christians becoming even more vulnerable to adopting secular assumptions about how to live, which leads to more conformity to a culture of busyness, hurry, and overload. And then the cycle begins over again.”
Leading spiritually means slowing down in our individual and community lives. It means taking time for others and placing Christ at the centre.
How would it change your leadership style if these priorities were at the centre of your life and of the team you work with?