Vol 4:12 Mission and Leading Christ’s Community – Part 8: Rhythms of Refreshing

This is turning out to be a particularly difficult post-Easter season, at least health-wise. Both my wife and I are trying to get some meds working in such a way that side effects are minimized – this process can be frustrating at times, especially when it affects my ability to enjoy hiking and cycling outdoors, which provides refreshment and renewal for me.

This has got me thinking about how exercising the gift of leading in the community of Christ requires regular rhythms of refreshment and renewal.

Leading is a gift, a gift of the Spirit, not a task that must be merely completed. And this understanding causes me to have a very different perspective on leading. Leading is a gift of grace, an aspect of our being formed and transformed by the Spirit of God, an aspect of the way we live out our discipleship. In understanding leading as a gift, it is meant not to rob us of life, but to fill us with life, fill us with peace.

Yet, I am aware in my own life, and aware in the life of many of my colleagues, that the way we lead, especially in North America, has very little to do with filling us with life, and indeed takes life from us.

In understanding leading as a gift of the Spirit, it is something that needs to be exercised in the rhythms of the Spirit so that leading actually refreshes us, enables us to be more open to the Spirit, enables us to be more sensitive to hear the voice of the Spirit and notice where the Spirit is blowing and leading.

If the way we lead does not bring such an awareness of the shalom of the Spirit in our lives, then we need to reexamine whether the way we lead is the receiving of the Spirit’s gift or whether we are engaged in a task.

In my own journey, I have been helped by the writings of Eugene Peterson on the pastoral vocation. He has taught me to take a breath when I exercise the gift of leading. He has taught me that I am a member of the community of Christ, a sinner within a community of sinners who are walking together seeking to be the community of Christ in the world. He has taught me that leading involves not completing a set of tasks, but rather pointing people to God, to Christ, for them to become aware of God’s actions and presence within their own lives – through the practices of Scripture engagement, prayer and spiritual conversation. Leading in the power of the Spirit is about cultivating rhythms of openness to God in the community, and so the way we lead ought also to be a gift that brings refreshment into our lives, rather than it being a chore we have to carry out.

Perhaps a way to receive the gift of leading differently is to develop times of refreshment and renewal in our times – the practice of weekly Sabbath, the practices of engaging in activities which bring refreshment and renewal, the practice of not taking charge, but developing a practice of being open to the Spirit’s blowing.

To say this another way – in light of Type A and Type B personalities – in which we usually laud Type A’s as being more effective leaders – perhaps the best way to grow in exercising the gift of leading is not with a Type A mentality, but rather a Type B approach to receiving the Spirit and receiving the gifts and rhythms of life.

May we be open to discover and grow in the rhythms of the Spirit – and as we do, may we discover that the exercising the gift of leading is meant to be an outworking of the rhythm of the Spirit in our lives.

Shalom.

  1. Linda Wiens says:

    I agree very much with your description-exploration, and I especially like your third and fourth paragraphs.

    I suspect the greater challenge is for the “Type A” people, and I am more like that than B. The latter sometimes need to work at being more assertive but they are unlikely ever to overdo that. The Type A’s tend to take over too readily and it is difficult to curb that until it is too late: when quiet resistance or active objection demonstrates that “leadersjip” has turned into “boss-ship.”

    The practice of keeping Sabbath, morning devotions and evening reflection can surely help to maintain leadership as a gift of grace rather than an exhausting task. I also find that it helps – especially when things seem to be going wrong – that it is NOT all up to me; that my part may be to propose rather than to decide; that it can be okay if my idea is rejected; and that if I am doing the best I can the rest is up to God who works through all participants, not just through me. That helps me let go of the pressure and drive I may feel, that is likely to be unproductive and exhausting.

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