Getting Back to the Center (Part 1)

barton.jpgThis week, I have posted very little as I am transitioning from a PC to a Mac.  For about three days this week, I have not had access to either my new or the old computer.  Anyway, the transition phase of this is almost over.  Thanks for your patience.

In the meantime, several people in the comments  to a recent post (Ricky and Kristin), asked me to post further regarding living out of the center.  (These are comments in regard to the post "Question: What are the Warning Signs?")

At the same time, I have been reading a very fine book this week, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton.  This is a very fine book which addresses this issue.  While the book specifically addresses Christian leaders and the importance of living out of the center, its message is applicable to all Christ-followers.  So I think I will respond to these comments by referring to Barton’s book.  Perhaps this will be helpful.   

I will post more on this next week.  For now, I want to begin with a few quotes from Barton’s opening chapter, "When Leaders Lost Their Souls" (or anyone else for that matter):

…What would it look like for me to lead more consistently from my soul–the place of my own encounter with God–rather than leading primarily from my head, my unbridled activism, or my performance-oriented drivenness?  What would it be like to find God in the context of my leadership rather than miss God in the context of my leadership? (p. 25)

…The only way to begin facing these challenges is to keeping seeking tenaciously after God through spiritual disciplines that keep us grounded in the presence of God in the center of our being.  Solitude and silence in particular enable us to experience a place of authenticity within and to invite God to meet us there.  In solitude we are rescued from human striving to solve the challenges of ministry through intellectual achievements and hard work, so that we can experience the life of the Spirit guiding toward that true way that lies between one polarity and another.  In silence we give up control and allow God to be God in our life rather than being a thought i our head or an illustration in a sermon…. (pp. 28-29)

…those who are looking to us for spiritual sustenance need us first and foremost to be spiritual seekers ourselves.  (p. 29) 

the most important thing I can do as a leader today is to keep seeking God in depths of my own soul–no matter what it costs.  (p. 30) 

Living out of the center is critical, not only for Christian leaders but for all of us who attempt to follow Christ as we live as a husband or wife or father or mother.  If we live out of the center, where the presence of God is, we will approach our work or academic pursuits very differently.  We will live as a people who understand that we have a calling instead of living as a people who are desperately trying to fill the emptiness of our lives.

Perhaps the place to begin, as Barton suggests, is continuing to seek God in the depths of my soul–no matter what it costs.

Why is it that some Christian leaders seem to completely ignore the condition of their own souls?   Have you experienced this either yourself or in others whom you have observed?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Getting Back to the Center (Part 1)

  1. Our souls are in someway reflections of the image of God.  When we find our joy in God we are compelled to express this joy outward to complete the union.  We either reflect our joy back to God for his Glory or outward for the sake of loving others, whatever form this may take individually.  A digestible answer here is that we busy ourselves with tasks in the name of expressing this joy.  But there is strong need to simply "Be still, and know".  We see this example in Jesus himself when he leaves his tasks to spend time with his Father in prayer.  The point is balance.  We have received joy, grace, peace, whatever you wish to name it and we then are, as if guided by natural law, compelled to express this passion outward.  We overflow.  Overflowing in love for others is valid – However – sometimes we forget we need to balance one command with the other – that is – to love God, which in turn will feed our souls as we are a reflection of his image.
    If Christ made the time for solitude – we should as well.

  2. Daniel,I really like the emphaisis of your comment (balance).  A reminder of the importance of nurturing the inner life while at the same time, we are involved in some kind of ministry to people.