“The forming of the soul that it might be a dwelling place for God is the primary work of the Christian leader. This is not an add-on, an option, or a third-level priority. Without this core activity, one almost guarantees that he/she will not last in leadership for a life-time or that what work is accomplished will become less and less reflective of God’s honor and God’s purposes.” Gordon MacDonald
“Before we can conquer the world we must conquer the self.” Oswald Sanders
“Self care is never a selfish act. It is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have – the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” Parker Palmer
“The goal of education and formation for the ministry is continually to recognize the Lord’s voice, his face, and his touch in every person we meet.” Henri Nouwen
“How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of Yahweh;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Christian leader, do you consider “the forming of your soul that it might be a dwelling place for God” to be your “primary work?” Have you established routines and prioritized practices accordingly?
- When you think about whether you are successful, how often do you turn to consider how you’re doing at this “core activity?” If not this, what do you think about instead? Are other responsibilities, real or imagined, deterring you from this non-optional, first-level activity?
- Gordon MacDonald is a wise guide here. Can you accept his warning that if you fail at this point you probably “will not last in leadership for a life-time … [or your work will] become less and less reflective of God’s honor” over time? Can you take the time to be this kind of leader in spite of the expectations and pressures others place on you – even perhaps with little encouragement from anyone else?
Abba, I pray that the Christian leaders I know would live a life of deep intimacy with you. Call them to yearn for you like the psalmist does, and to seek your empowering presence. And Lord, help those of us under their care to prayerfully support them and diligently protect them when they attempt this greatest of all work.
For More: Cultivating the Soul by Gordon MacDonald
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