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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Leadership & Community

I meet weekly with several lead pastors (thank you, Skype!) for pastoral coaching. (I would love to come up with another term for it, but I haven't landed on one so far.) It's not really training, because they are all capable and filling their positions at their churches well already. It's more of a combination of encouragement, accountability, experience, leadership development, feedback, problem solving and strategic planning. With good stories and laughter thrown in.

So I am thinking about the question "What is true, godly leadership?" all the time. I always have. I was a student body officer throughout high school (shocker, I know) and thrown into leadership with Young Life way before I was ready. And throughout all those YL and youth group years I spent the bulk of my time investing in volunteer leaders and in students wanting to be leaders.

I am currently reading a book in my morning prayer time titled The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages. It examines the Rule of St. Benedict, gives daily reflections on the application of this monastic way of life, and ideas for how to live it out today -- not necessarily in the context of living in a monastery (phew). I read it for insights and disciplines on what it means to be the church and what it means to be Spirit-filled and sensitive to God throughout my day.

The last few days of reading have been related to how a leader is to give correction to members of the community. I find many points in today's reading so poignant and powerful. Listen as you read. Which one(s) resonates with you? Many of these statements gave me great healing and direction:
  • The place of punishment in the Rule is never to crush the person who is corrected.
  • Community -- family -- is that place everywhere where we can fail without fear of being abandoned and with the ongoing certainty that we go on being loved nevertheless.
  • Perfection is not an expectation in monastic [community] life any more than it is an expectation in any healthy environment where experience is the basis both of wisdom and of growth.
  • A monk is asked, "What do you do in the monastery?" And the monk replies, "Well, we fall and we get up and we fall and get up and we fall and we get up." Where continual falling and getting up is not honored, where the wise ones who have gone before us, are not present to help us through, life runs the terrible risk of drying up and blowing away before it is half lived.
  • The idea that the spiritual life is only for the strong, for those who don't need it anyway, is completely dispelled in the Rule. Here spiritual athletes need not apply. Monastic living is for human beings only.
  • Our role [as leaders] is simply to try to soothe what hurts them, heal what weakens thems, lift what burdens them and wait. The spiritual life is a process, not an event. It takes time and love and help and care. It takes our patient presence. Just like everything else.


  1. How do we make sure our kids know that family is the place where they can fail without fear of being abandoned?

  2. Great question with no simple answer. I have watched parents at both ends of the spectrum -- some work hard to keep their child from failing, while others demand perfection. Obviously, both extremes are not kind or safe. Somehow we have to walk the fine balance of being available for help & guidance, giving room to fail and thus learn, provide discipline and correction, yet also maintain a wealth of unconditional love throughout all of it. Easy, right?!