I was blessed to gather with the Session of Christ Presbyterian Church yesterday for a time of reflection. We centered our time on the reality of being Spiritual Leaders. Many of the members of session are or have been leaders in their work life. Yet, during our reflection we discussed the unique reality of being Spiritual Leaders. While many of the skills of the secular business can be helpful they need to be utilized in different ways.
The center point of our discussion was the fact that as Joan Gray points out:
“A Spiritual Leader leads others to seek and do God’s will.”
This placed a serious responsibility on the Spiritual Leader to ensure that their personal lives are centered in a dynamic relationship with God.
We also discussed the difference between being a Rowboat and a Sailboat church. I will expand on this in tomorrows full blog post but I think these quotes help to understand the critical difference.
“The basic difference between them has nothing to do with the circumstances of a congregation; rather, the difference is in the attitude of the leadership and members.
Rowboat Churches –“We can do this or we can’t do this”
Sailboat Churches- “God can do more than we can ask or imagine.”
Check out some of the other points we discussed by viewing this slide show:
When it comes to spiritual leadership the baseline, it seems to me, is the consistent need and want of corporate worship. Ordination is to service, not status, so how does an ordained officer–and non-ordained church staff as well–in any congregation explain away how/why s/he is not present to worship God? This is not to minimize ongoing Bible study, daily prayer and devotional time, fellowship, celebration, and service–all of which and more are essential to faith maturity–but I’ve never been one to take seriously any spiritual leader who chooses to be elsewhere on Sunday mornings. Please note that injury and illness are not choices.
Actually, worship is a critical part of our call process. When I hold my initial nominating task force briefing, I make it clear that one important things to consider is if the person is part of worship on a regular basis. Going to the aspect of leading people to follow God’s will for the congregation, you can’t do that unless you are part of the community. Worship for Christ Presbyterian is a major part of what it means to be community. Another book, Selected to Serve, reminds us that being an officer is not: “A training ground for new members or new Christians, for gossips or people who want to control others; elders must be those who are spiritually and psychologically mature and are more concerned for the health of the church and the work of God’s kingdom then they are for their own positions or reputations.”
We are very blessed to have church leaders who not only serve in their “ordained” roles – but who also give of themselves as choir members, instrumentalists, Sunday School teachers, lay leaders in Worship, and leaders in both Mens and Women’s ministries, among other things that most folks don’t even know about publicly. They are humble servants. Our session even managed to make a mostly administrative task such as a church mortgage re-finance an opportunity for spiritual reflection about our call to good financial stewardship. Thanks be to God for all of them and the time they give.
Sue, you’re emphasizing “doing” again while I’m focused more on “being.” Thanks for weighing in.
Is not “doing” a reflection of “being”?
Let’s apply Martha and Mary Luke 10:38-42 including Jesus’ response. Where does that take us?
Interestingly, as I was driving back from Strasburg this afternoon I happened upon a radio preacher who pointed out all the instances of worship in the Gospel According to Matthew. He left a very clear message: First comes worship and the rest follows. I take the experience as affirmation of my original response. Besides, one can get very “busy” in church. What’s driving that?
Thank you for joining in, Ann.
Eleanor – I must respectfully disagree. Your original comment indicated that leaders of the church need to be in worship…then you imply that being “busy” in church is also not good. My opinion is that it depends on how you experience worship. Just because a person shows up on Sunday and sits in a pew for an hour does not mean they experienced worship. For many, all it means is that they checked a box – whether you are a spiritual leader or not. What you may perceive as “doing” or being “busy” IS a form of worship for many people. If you poll the choir, I bet they do not see choir as “doing” – it is actually how they have a deeper experience of worship. When I “do” as lay leader or “do” a children’s sermon, I am actually more engaged and get much more out of the entire service as a result. At the audio board – you have to PAY ATTENTION real close to what is happening in the service or someone ends up not getting heard. That seems a better way to experience worship than sitting there thinking about the pending football game during a sermon. But, in the end it is not for us to judge how others experience worship.
I agree that one can “do”, even or especially in church, for the wrong reasons. There needs to be a balance. I “do” a lot – but it is in response to what I have already received and I do so willingly and with gratitude. This post began as what those who are called to be spiritual leaders must live out in their own lives – and yes corporate worship is part of that. And, as I look as the list of CPC’s Session and Deacons, there is not a single one that is not regularly engaged in worshipping with our community. And for that, we are blessed.
Sue, being somewhat exhausted from the day I should wait to respond but I am so deeply grieved by your words that I may not sleep well tonight. A conversation about spiritual leadership has deteriorated into personal attack. I made a statement in response to Geoff’s blog based on years of experience and observation. To recognize that salvation by works is a practiced belief doesn’t mean God’s grace can be earned. There are elders and deacons and church staff who have been so busy on Sunday mornings that they have neither the time nor inclination to join in corporate worship which would then just add another thing to the demands of the day. As we are taught, “The chief end of humankind is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Seems to me that’s worship and everything else grows out from that. There are plenty of service agencies where one might volunteer his/her talents/skills and feel good about that. But that’s self-esteem building, not engaging in service that grows out of gratitude for what God has done and is doing. And we know that spiritual leadership is not about checking boxes. Spiritual leaders have a mark to meet and maintain.
My general response has been taken to a place I did not intend. If I’m not welcome to do that then I’m not welcome on the premises either.