Moving Into Transition – The Awakening of Hope

Let us gather at the table together

Let us gather at the table together

This is the third post in my series this week on transitioning MSA and the process I am engaged in personally as a part of that. It is very much a thinking out loud process for me, but one which I realize requires me to listen to many voices and to discern together with others what God is saying. You can check out the other posts here:

Going Through Transition – Help from Walter Brueggemann

Planning For Transition – Wisdom from the Desert Fathers and Mothers

The first posts came out of the retreat time Tom and I had at the end of last week. Since then we have participated in meetings with others who are key to this process – the MSA team and several consultants who are helping us on the way. I am excited about what is emerging – not new ministries or even a new focus but rather a new process that ignites participants with images of hope for the inbreaking of God’s kingdom and invites them into a community where together we provide tools to journey along the path towards God’s kingdom.

In the first post on Monday I wrote – The prophet offers symbols of hope for a new future. As I have wrestled with who we are currently and who we are sensing God wants us to become, this I realize is central. Interestingly the third book that I read during my retreat time was Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s The Awakening of Hope. What I loved about this book is its practicality – not just giving theological precepts that should shape our practice but sharing beautiful stories of how our Christian beliefs are lived out in practice. As Jonathan says we need to build community amongst believers by nurturing faith that leads to action.

Building community and nurturing faith that leads to action that too is central to who we are and what we hope to become.  At this point we have identified three aspects of MSA that we believe are important elements of the process we are developing. Part of what excites me is that none of these elements require experts to speak at su, they require a recognition that all in the body of Christ have valuable gifts to bring to the table:

  1. Encouraging each other with images of God’s hope for the future – I think that one of our strengths in the past has been the sharing of mustard seed stories that inspire others with the the thought “I could do that”.
  2. Discerning together as a spiritual community – As many of you know we begin all of our meetings with a check in time – looking back and looking forward and then discussing where we sense God is moving in our midst. It is a powerful and energizing process that not only draws us closer to each other but also closer to God. This element of who we are can be adapted to any situation. It draws us into the hope of God’s kingdom and it ignites creativity within all of us.
  3. Fellowship and hospitality – Tom often tells people that he would rather cook for them than stand in front of them to speak. We have tended to treat it as a joke, but as we talk around the table I am beginning to realize that this too is a central part of who we are. In The Awakening of Hope, Jonathan quotes Norman Wirzba: To be reconciled to one another is to be able to gather around a table with each other without shame, celebrating the gifts to each other that we are. Table fellowship builds community, connects us to each other and to the body of Christ around the world. I am not sure at this point how this translates into all the situations we are involved in – for example how do we practice table fellowship with those who read our books and blogs but are separated by many miles?

There is much still for us to grapple with and I would very much like to engage others in this conversation. What do you think MSA should become? What has inspired or connected you to this ministry and why do you remain connected?



Planning For Transition – Wisdom from the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Seeing with new eyes

Seeing with new eyes

Yesterday I posted this post, about the fact that Mustard Seed Associates is in a time of transition and talked about the impact that Walter Brueggemann has had on my theology and my thinking. There are others that have helped to shape my thinking in this transition time too that I wanted to mention.

The second book I took with me was Christine Valter Paintner’s book Desert Fathers and Mothers Early Christian Wisdom Sayings. What particularly struck me is where she comments:

We often bring unconscious expectations to life. We feel disappointed when things don’t turn out as we had hoped, even when we aren’t aware we had a desire for a particular outcome. Often we are poor judges of what should happen in our lives. We bring a whole set of ego-centered habits and patterns, and we dream from the person we have been , rather than the person we are being transformed into. Our transformed self is always far beyond our own striving.

When we realize we have limited vision and that our planning minds will only take us so far, then we can begin to gently release the pressure we put on ourselves to have things turn out in a certain way. We may begin to approach life in a more open-hearted way, receiving its gifts rather than grumbling about what we would rather have had happen. (60).

When we seek to bring about change that is not a tweaking of what has existed in the past but rather something entirely new, our own planning and limited vision often does get in the way. Letting go does not begin in the planning room, it begins in the place where we seek to listen to God. I am more convinced than ever that unless we can unleash our creativity and imaginations in the realm of prayer and worship, we will never see real change that leads us into the new reality of God’s kingdom, occur. God’s new reality does not emerge fully grown, but as a baby that needs to be nurtured and fed.

Leading Spiritually – What I learned from the Business World

Starfish at Esperanza Canada

The art of leading spiritually

This is the final post in the series on Leading Spiritually. Thank you for joining with me in this journey. I particularly appreciate your thoughts and comments which have helped me grapple with these issues.

Check out the other posts:

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Why Are We Leading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Where Are We Heading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – How Do We Do It?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning Together

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning on Your Own

Leading Spiritually: What I Learned from the Business World 

Not everything about leadership in the business world is counter to what good spiritual leadership should look like. However, for me personally the insights I have gained from the business world are more likely to affirm or flesh out what God has already been saying to our discernment group rather than give new or fresh ideas.

Sometimes they have helped us name the processes we are using. When we started using a more organic approach to strategic planning, it was very encouraging to find information on organic strategic planning which is a recognized model in the business world. It bears a lot of resemblance to the group discernment process we use, but has helped us refine what we do and walk with confidence in our new approach.

When we were looking for networking models The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations  was an excellent resource to help us think strategically about what we wanted to accomplish and how best to achieve it.

I love articles like Productivity Lagging: Take A Nap  that remind me that taking a siesta increases productivity and creativity affirming my belief in the importance of balance and rhythm to our lives.  The business world even affirms the importance of contemplative practices in the creation of good leaders as in this article: Mindful Leadership: Compassion, Contemplation and Meditation Develop Effective Leaders  

Unfortunately most of the best messages I have learned from the business world are about how not to lead. The grasping after position, power and wealth, the centrality of self ambition and the use of others to gain these ends is widespread. It is also devastating to those they supposedly lead and is often destructive for society. Surely this was one of the lessons of the recent recession. Spiritual power looks very different from this.

What I am strongly convinced of is that there is no substitute for the wisdom of God when we want to discern how we should operate as leaders and the ways of God are often foolishness to the world. God does indeed delight in using the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. As Richard Rohr says:

The bottom, the edge, the outsider… is the privileged spiritual position. In a word, that is why the biblical revelation is revolutionary and even subversive…. Stop trying. Stop forcing reality. Learn the mystery of surrender and trust, and then it will be done unto you, through you, with you and very often, in spite of you. You could say that God’s forever pattern is creatio ex nihilo; Yahweb is always creating something out of nothing…. God “brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist” (Romans 4:17) You could call it God’s primary job description. (Things Hidden p 90)

So let me end with a prayer from the apostle Paul who I suspect is speaking here to all aspiring spiritual leader.

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:9-14 NLT)

May you grow in wisdom and become the leader and the follower that God intends you to be

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Leading From Within #2

Leading from within

Leading from within

The following post is another contribution to the series on Leading Spiritually. Thanks for those who have commented and encouraged the continuation of this series.

Check out the other posts:

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Why Are We Leading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Where Are We Heading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – How Do We Do It?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning Together

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning on Your Own

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning a Shared Rhythm of Life Together

Leading Spiritually from Within #1


This post is a continuation from my post a couple of days ago Leading Spiritually from Within so don’t be confused by the numbering.

5. We must take our faith practices and discernment processes seriously. It is often easier to discern the will God than it is to implement it. I am embarrassed at how often I make the same list of resolutions at my three monthly retreats and then go home and forget about them. Old habits die hard. We get out of a discernment meeting and immediately head back to our busy schedules ignoring completely the implications of our decisions. Unfortunately sometimes there is no one except God to keep us accountable to those decisions.

Keep a discernment journal for both your personal and group discernment sessions and revisit it regularly to see how seriously you have followed the promptings of God’s spirit.  What has God said? How has that changed the way you lead? How has it changed what you do and your leadership community do? I suspect that many good Christian ministries and churches fail because they don’t take seriously enough what God is saying in their midst.

6. We must be acknowledgers of doubts and uncertainties. According to Thomas Merton faith means doubt It is our doubts and uncertainties that keep us questioning and learning. They keep us flexible and creative – two essential characteristics of good spiritual leaders. The story of Thomas teaches us that Jesus comes to us in the place of our deepest fears and doubts and reveals himself to us. If we pretend we know everything we stop growing in our relationship to God and to others. We become set in our ways and become rigid in our leadership.

7. We must be seekers after the joy of gratitude. Gratitude opens us to the enjoyment of new aspects of who God is and what God is doing. Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts, comments: learning to live in joy is learning to be grateful in all circumstances even in the midst of pain and suffering. The psalmist says: Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honours me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:23) What is the path that reveals the salvation of God? It is the path of gratitude and thanksgiving. To grow in intimacy with God and move deeper into that loving union we all so desperately crave we must learn to live in gratitude.

Gratitude has other benefits that undergird our spiritual leadership too. It boosts our chance of success and keeps us flexible and resilient. It also increases not only our chance of happiness but that of our colleagues too. It even boosts our immune system.

8. We must be seekers after trust in God. That may sound like a strange thing to seek after, but to grow in our ability to trust God we also need to grow in our knowledge and connection to the deep and abiding love of God for us.

In his book Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, Richard Rohr says:

We will not trust spiritual power until we have experienced a God who operates in the same way, a God who is willing to wait, allow, forgive, trust and love unconditionally. (p89)

Do we really believe that God is trustworthy and wants what is best for our lives? Do we really believe God loves us? If we did we would seek to model that love rather than the critical, taskmaster, threaten God that our hierarchical leadership styles model.  Do we really believe that God’s purposes are higher than ours? If we did we would take discernment and direction from God far more seriously. We will learn to relax and allow God to move and like the children of God in the desert we will learn to stay put until God says so.

I think one of the reasons we so often surge ahead with our own ideas and plans is because deep down inside we don’t really believe that God loves us and wants what is best for us. We don’t really believe that God has either the desire or the power to fulfill the dreams he has placed in our hearts. We can easily start to believe that we, not Jesus are the saviours of the world and so we take on ourselves heavy burdens of responsibility that God does not intend for us.

9. We must learn to relax in the limits of who God has made us to be. A person who knows their own limits and those of the people with whom they work lives a life of balance, freedom and productivity. So many leaders leave pathways strewn with burnout for themselves and for others. they stray from God’s path because in their work consumed lives they have lost the ability to listen to the still small voice of God.

To me the best biblical example of burnout is the prophet Elijah as he flees into the desert running away from Jezebel. He has just defeated the prophets of Baal and yet here he is running away from a single woman. I love the gentle way God deals with him. He is fed, given shelter and allowed to rest. Then God gently tries to talk to him, but all Elijah can say is “I have been zealous for God”  (1 Kings 19). It seems to me that he is so consumed by all he has done for God that he can no longer hear what God is saying.

10. We must be seekers after the love of God and love of neighbour. Central to our understanding of the Biblical story is the knowledge that God is love. Jesus reminds us that the central commandment is “love of God and love of neighbour”. The epistle of James affirms that God’s royal law is: love your neighbour as yourself. (James 2:8) and Paul confirms that without love we are nothing but a noisy gong. (1 Corinthians 13:1-9) Theologian N.T. Wright says that the language of God’s kingdom is the language of love.

A leader who is not loving towards those he or she works with or lovingly concerned for those in the broader society is not a leader at all. This goes far deeper than just having a kind word to say to our colleagues. It means that to lead well spiritually we must be willing to lead as servants, put the needs of others before our own and be committed to the ways of justice, peace and generosity for all.  This means being concerned about issues of inequality, poverty and environmental justice to name but a few.

11. We must be seekers after the promised land of God. In my post on Where are we heading? I talked about the fact that God’s destination for us is his promised shalom world in which we find abundance and peace for all. We are all journeying towards this incredible new world and our central responsibility as leaders is to learn to live into that world and bring others into that world too. Does your leadership draw others towards a place of shalom, abundance and rest? Does it make your leadership community feel fulfilled, rejoicing in the presence of God?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning a Shared Rhythm of Life Together

Supper at Emmaus - Roy de Maistre

Discern together - Supper at Emmaus by Roy de Maistre

The following post is part of a series on Leading Spiritually, which at the rate I am going is likely to become a book before I am finished. Thanks for those who have commented and encouraged the continuation of this series.

Check out the other posts:

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Why Are We Leading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Where Are We Heading?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – How Do We Do It?

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning Together

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Discerning on Your Own

Discerning a Shared Rhythm of Life Together

Rules and rhythms of life have become very fashionable in the last few years. They are being adopted both by individuals wanting a more intentional structure for their faith practices and by churches and communities encouraging their leadership and staff to deeper levels of shared commitment.

Most of us however, still tend to associate a rule of life with monastic or neo-monastic communities that are on the fringes of church and society. We don’t really understand what value a commitment to a common rhythm or rule could possibly have especially in the context of leadership.  Some of us think it sounds a bit legalistic. I find however that a rule of life is very freeing. It reminds us of who we are, what God has called us to do and how God has called us to live. It can provide wonderful guidelines for enabling us to come together and stay together in unity.

What is a Rule of Life?

A rule of life is a set of practices we commit to that enable us to continue growing closer to God, to each other and to the mission God calls us to. In the words of St Benedict it is:  ‘simply a handbook to make the radical demands of the gospel a practical reality in daily life‘”

Celtic monasteries centred around the formation of communities in which members followed a certain lifestyle and maintained a regular discipline of prayer and worship.  Monks mixed manual, intellectual and spiritual labour, maintaining a balance between engagement in the world and withdrawal from it.  These communities provided a focus for the life of the surrounding non monastic community whose members made different forms of commitment and adhered to a variety of rules that acknowledged and affirmed their gifts and ministry.

A number of contemporary churches and organizations have rediscovered the value of a rhythm of life.  Ian Mobsby in his book The Becoming of G_d explains:  “As people encounter Christians living out profound expressions of the faith through God’s love, they encounter the depth of a loving Christian community and experience God as their ‘ground of being’ through worship, mission and community… It is in these participative and loving Christian communities that people can encounter the reality of the Christian story of the Holy Trinity not as a hypothetical truth but as a profound reality clueing us in to how we should live.”

A Rule of Life for Mustard Seed Associates

In Mustard Seed Associates we see a need to foster a sense of shared spirituality and commitment to accomplish what God has called us to be and do. Our times of discernment helped us established the shared values we want to undergird our practices. This in turn encouraged us to establish and adhere to practices that enable us to live into God’s new world of wholeness and abundance as a leadership community.  Out of this process came not only or rhythm of life, but also our first MSA publication Light for the Journey: Morning and Evening Prayers for Living Into God’s World.

We want to encourage ourselves and others to develop a rhythm of life in which prayer intertwines through every aspect of life so that we can keep God and God’s purposes at the centre of all we are and do.

As a result we want to encourage followers of Jesus to live into:

  1. A redeemed (restored) relationship to God, seeking intimacy with God through:
    1. Regular individual prayer & scripture study
    2. Regular corporate worship balanced with times of listening in solitude – (meditative and contemplative prayer)
    3. Repentance and confession of sins both personal and societal
    4. Commitment to personal healing of wounds from the past that create barriers between us and God
    5. Development of disciplines that encourage a balance between spiritual and secular, community and solitude, work and rest.  “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matt 11:28 The Message)
  1. A redeemed (restored) relationship to God’s worldwide community through
    1. Intentionally sharing life with others – recognizing that God comes to us in community and that community is essential for Christian faith, actively seeking support and accountability.
    2. Hospitality and celebration – “let everyone be received as Christ” celebrating the in-breaking of God’s resurrection world with others,
    3. Simple living – uncluttering our lives to focus on participating in God’s resurrection life in both local and global community – give me neither poverty nor riches (Prov 30)
    4. Solidarity with the marginalized – “act justly, love mercy” (Micah 6:8)
    5. Recognizing all we have belongs to God becoming whole life stewards who practice generosity that encourages mutual care – “where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:24)
    6. Humbly examining the ways culture and history have shaped our values discarding those that are counter to God’s kingdom values and embracing and celebrating those that reflect God’s kingdom values
    7. Service in the broader community – not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others (Phil 2:4)
  1. A redeemed relationship with God’s creation through
    1. Responsible ecological stewardship – responding to the fact that “the earth is the Lord’s & the fullness there of” (Ps 24:1)
    2. Connection to the God revealed through creation
    3. Enjoyment of God’s creation and creatures

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Where are We Heading?

Edward Hicks - Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hicks - Peaceable Kingdom

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:

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

The Art of Leading Spiritually – Why Are We Leading?

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?


The Art of Leading Spiritually – Why are we Leading?

Starfish at Esperanza Canada

The art of leading spiritually

Why Are We Leading?

This post is part of series on Leading Spiritually. Before reading this you may want to check out the first post in the series: The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

Most of us aspire to be leaders. We want to be noticed. We want to feel successful. As Christians we want to know that what we do makes a difference in God’s world. I wonder however if in our striving towards these leadership goals we sometimes miss God’s purposes for us as leaders.

To know how to become good spiritual leaders we need first to understand the purpose of leadership not from the perspective of the secular world or even from the perspective of the religious community but from God’s point of view. A good place to start is with Jesus‘ last prayer to his disciples before his betrayal and crucifixion.

I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one – as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.(John 17:20-23)

Jesus invited his disciples into a journey towards unity with God and with each other. The challenges of listening together, struggling together and praying together moulded them into a richly diverse loving community that resounded with the Spirit of God and as a consequence turned the world upside down.

No wonder Jesus spent more time developing a community of followers than he did preaching. Missiologist Lesslie Newbigin explains: “…the center of Jesus’ concern was the calling and binding to himself of a living community of men and women who would be the witnesses of what he was and did. The new reality that he introduced into history was to be continued through history in the form of a community, not in the form of a book.”

Early Christians believed that to live by the law of love that Jesus called them to required community because we cannot practice love in isolation.

They reasoned that as the essential nature of God is love and because it is impossible to practice love in isolation, God the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – must be a model of perfect community, a perfect harmony of loving relationship.

Gilbert Bilezikian in his book Community 101, further elaborates this understanding. “Since God is Trinity he is plurality in oneness. Therefore, the creation in his image required the creation of a plurality of persons. God’s supreme achievement was not the creation of a solitary man, but the creation of human community.”

He goes on to explain that this last prayer of Jesus with his disciples is a prayer for community. “The oneness that Jesus prayed for was not mere unity. It was the oneness that reaches deep into the being of God and finds its source in the relationship between Father and Son. Jesus is asking for the restoration among humans of the oneness that had originally been entrusted to them in creation, a oneness made in the image of the oneness within the Trinity.”

This understanding of God and of God’s purposes for us invites us to rethink everything including the function and form of leadership. In fact it turns our leadership models on their heads.

Spiritual leadership is not about our own advancement or success. 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.

This doesn’t require a charismatic out in front personality that hopes everyone will catch their vision, follow and obey. It requires a community that is willing to journey together into the ways of God. It recognizes that leadership is a function of the whole community. As we listen together, discern together, struggle together and pray together we learn to grow together into that restored community of love and mutuality which does indeed reflect the image of the oneness within the Trinity.

(Coming tomorrow – Where are we leading)

The Art of Leading Spiritually – An Invitation to a Journey

Starfish at Esperanza Canada

The art of leading spiritually

The Art of Leading Spiritually

What does it mean to be a spiritual leader? Why do we lead and where are we heading? What was it that made Jesus leadership special? These are all questions that have revolved in my mind over the last few weeks as I have reflected on my own leadership and evaluated where I am at and where I need to grow into the future. Let me say up front that much of what I share over the next couple of weeks will, to a certain extent, be me thinking out loud. I want to grapple with important questions about why, where and how we lead and hope that you will join me in this journey.

Mustard Seed Associates is going through some huge transitions at the moment. In the next couple of years our team here in Seattle will probably double in size and we will also begin to establish the Mustard Seed Village community on Camano Island. Our Board is also going through transitions as we grapple with the new skills that are needed to move us into the future.

Mustard Seed Associates is a community not a program based organization. We see both our staff team and Board as spiritual communities that discern and carry out the will of God for our organization. We believe that everything we do should flow out of our involvement together as community. We also want to foster spirituality that draws followers of Christ into a deeper relationship with God not alone but as a community.  That is one of the reasons I am attracted to monastic communities and the liturgical calendar. Both of these provide tools that draw us into community with God’s people around the world.

The Mustard Seed team also wants to encourage innovation that enables us to create new ways to advance God’s kingdom purposes and engage tomorrow’s challenges. That kind of creativity only occurs in community.  In many ways MSA provides a networking hub for many expressions of faith and community. Shane Claiborne once described us as cross pollinators. We draw people together across generations, denominations and cultures connecting and equipping them to create their own models that can transform their cultures by both living differently and making a difference for God’s kingdom.

To be honest in some ways I am less sure now of what Godly leadership is meant to look like than I was 10 years ago partly because I realize that spiritual leadership is not a job but a journey. It is a journey into intimacy with God. It is a journey into the kingdom of God. It is also a journey into the company of others. Spiritual leadership is not about individual success, in fact I am not sure that it is about individuals at all. Spiritual leadership is about community, about enabling others to become the people God intends them to be so that together we can become the community of shalom that God intends us to become.

It is probably fairly obvious that my ideas on spiritual leadership look nothing like the secular model of leadership we so often applaud. Our modern idea of leadership, even of Christian leadership is often a very hierarchical model, based on power and prestige. Success is often judged by growth in numbers rather than in spiritual maturity. Sadly this is the model that most of us know and adhere to without even thinking about it.

So I hope you will join me in this journey of exploration and discovery as we discuss the whys, wheres and hows of what it means to lead spiritually.

Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy

Benjamin Wheatley just sent me a link to this interesting video on leadership.  Very thought provoking and worth watching.  As we seek to move people along the road of discipleship it has a lot of good suggestions to think about.