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Servant? Leader? Both. May 23, 2015

Filed under: Christianity,healing,Henri Nouwen,inspiration,Leadership,peace,Vocation — Karen Shafer @ 8:52 pm

Saturday, May 23, 2015

 

Servant? Leader? Both.

“Ministry is… a mutual experience… [Jesus] wants Peter to feed his sheep and care for them, not as ‘professionals’ who know their clients’ problems and take care of them, but as vulnerable brothers and sisters who know and are known, who care and are cared for, who forgive and are being forgiven, who love and are being loved.

 

Somehow we have come to believe that good leadership requires a safe distance from those we are called to lead… Someone serves, someone else is being served, and be sure not to mix up the roles! But how can we lay down our life for those with whom we are not even allowed to enter into a deep personal relationship!

 

We are not the healers, we are not the reconcilers, we are not the givers of life. We are sinful, broken, vulnerable people who need as much care as anyone we care for. The mystery of ministry is that we have been chosen to make our own limited and very conditional love the gateway for the unlimited and unconditional love of God.

 

Therefore, true ministry must be mutual. When the members of a community of faith cannot truly know and love their shepherd, shepherding quickly becomes a subtle way of exercising power over others and begins to show authoritarian and dictatorial traits. The world in which we live — a world of efficiency and control — has no models to offer to those who want to be shepherds in the way Jesus was a shepherd. Even the so-called ‘helping professions’ have been so thoroughly secularized that mutuality can only be seen as a weakness and a dangerous form of role confusion. The leadership about which Jesus speaks is of a radically different kind from the leadership offered by the world. It is a servant leadership — to use Robert Greenleaf’s* term — in which the leader is a vulnerable servant who needs the people as much as they need their leader.”

 

               ~~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership

 
*Robert K. Greenleaf, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness

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Lent: I’m Not Much, But I’m All I Think About February 18, 2015

Filed under: Christianity,healing,inspiration,Leadership,peace — Karen Shafer @ 11:40 pm

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent: I’m Not Much, But I’m All I Think About

This evening I sat in the beautiful Church of the Incarnation and listened to a wise, direct, and very profound sermon by our rector, Bishop Anthony Burton, on preparing for Lent.

In speaking of the temptations that Christ experienced during his forty days in the wilderness — which we symbolically replicate through our observance and celebration of the Lenten season — Bishop Burton clarified them in a way I hadn’t previously understood: Christ, he said, was tempted to become the star of his own show — the centerpiece of his own movie.  He refused.

As I sat through the service, surrounded by the majesty of a church I’ve loved for decades, I observed how often my thoughts are centered upon myself.  Briefly, I can be fully present within the momentous mystery and magic of what is going on around me, but quickly and automatically, I am back to…  assessing myself, critiquing myself, speculating about myself…  which then turns in an equally automatic way to quick and sometimes even scornful and petty judgments of people around me.

To quote a friend who has spent decades successfully working twelve-step programs, “I’m not much, but I’m all I think about.”

Referring to the unremitting humility of Jesus and of His unwillingness to become a person of consequence and importance — or, perhaps in today’s parlance, one could say His unwillingness to become “relevant”, the bishop said, “I want that.”

So do I.

ks

Church of the Incarnation incarnation.org

 

You Can’t… August 26, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

 

Wise Words From Someone Who Knows…

“You can’t preach [the Gospel] to someone who is starving.

You can’t entertain people who are dying.”

~~  Pastor Karen Dudley, Founder and Senior Pastor, Dallas International Street Church

 

Connected February 26, 2013

Filed under: Christianity,inspiration — Karen Shafer @ 8:23 pm

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

 

Connected

 

“When a butterfly flaps its wings in front of me, it can be felt in China.”

~~  A Carthusian Monk

 

Common Cathedral February 13, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2012

 

Common Cathedral

 

I’ve just been invited by my daughter, her family, and a wonderful friend who is a nurse serving the homeless community in Boston to attend services at Common Cathedral one Sunday in the next few weeks.  Can’t wait!

 

http://ecclesia-ministries.org/common_cathedral.html

 

Prayer for Peace December 16, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

While cleaning off a bookshelf today, I found a bookmark with this printed on it in one of my mother’s old prayer books.  Not so easy to do, but worth trying for…  KS

 

Prayer for Peace

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt,  faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

 

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;  

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

 

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Being Led August 20, 2012

Filed under: Christianity,healing,inspiration,Leadership,Vocation — Karen Shafer @ 2:54 am

From Henri Nouwen:

 

“Let me tell you about a[n] experience connected with my move from Harvard to L’Arche. It was clearly a move from leading to being led.  Somehow I had come to believe that growing older and more mature meant that I would be increasingly able to offer leadership. In fact, I had grown more self-confident over the years. I felt I knew something and had the ability to express it and be heard. In that sense I felt more and more in control.

 

But when I entered my community with mentally handicapped people and their assistants, all controls fell apart, and I came to realize that every hour, day, and month was full of surprises — often surprises I was least prepared for…. Often people responded from deep places in themselves, showing me that what I was saying or doing had little if anything to do with what they were living. Present feelings and emotions could no longer be held in check by beautiful words and convincing arguments…. Without realizing it, the people I came to live with made me aware of the extent to which my leadership was still a desire to control complex situations, confused emotions, and anxious minds.

 

It took me a long time to feel safe in this unpredictable climate, and I still have moments in which I clamp down and tell everyone to shut up, get in line, listen to me, and believe what I say. But I am also getting in touch with the mystery that leadership, for a large part, means to be led. I discover that I am learning many new things, not just about the pains and struggles of wounded people, but also about their unique gifts and graces. They teach me about joy and peace, love and care and prayer…. They also teach me what nobody else could have taught me, about grief and violence, fear and indifference. Most of all, they give me a glimpse of God’s first love, often at moments when I start feeling depressed and discouraged.

 

My movement from Harvard to L’Arche made me aware in a new way how much my own thinking about Christian leadership had been affected by the desire to be relevant, the desire for popularity, and the desire for power.  Too often I looked at being relevant, popular and powerful as ingredients of an effective ministry.

 

The truth, however, is that these are not vocations but temptations. Jesus asks, ‘Do you love me?’ Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people…  Old patterns that have proved quite effective are not easy to give up.

 

I leave you with the image of the leader with outstretched hands, who chooses a life of downward mobility.”

 

~~ From In the Name of Jesus, Reflections on Christian Leadership