Post By Mindy Caliguire – Excerpt from STIR
Wherever I travel around the world, leaders share the same compelling questions as it relates to intentionally creating cultures of transformation in their ministries:
* How should we think about the role of small groups?
* How do we teach spiritual practices?
* How do we motivate and engage mature believers?
These leaders recognize that, to help their congregation, they need to recruit and train others to share the leadership load. A basic requirement of effective spiritual leadership is to be able to discern where “here” is for someone else, in order to help them get “there”. Like many other areas of life, only leaders who have truly been “there” can help.
The following is an excerpt from a new WCA resource, STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships, aimed at helping leaders develop strategies to help congregations experience transformation.
In particular, this excerpt looks at the kinds of leaders who help others navigate the inner journey stage, where they acquire core spiritual practices as their way of life, and make peace with their personal story.
Only those who make it through this stage can become the kinds of people who are able to fulfill the world-impacting assignments God may bring. Their inner person has been shaped so that they can fulfill any assignment in God’s power, in God’s timing, and in God’s ways.
Leaders who guide others in this stage need to be ready to meet people in their brokenness, disillusionment, and doubt by offering them companionship and care — not simplistic answers or shaming criticisms. It is best if leaders have been through their own desert experience. Just as no one but a sober, recovering alcoholic can sponsor someone through recovery in the twelve steps, only someone who has truly been through the disorientation and desperation of their own inner journey can effectively walk with someone else during this time.
See the table below for several important leadership qualities and spiritual gifts as you seek to identify effective desert guides for those in the Journeying Together stage of growth:
The kind of people who can lead others through this stage of the journey are skilled in offering both discernment and direction. They maintain a clear vision of the purpose of this stage, which is owning the journey. A variety of spiritual gifts can beautifully support this process, each in their own way.
As you look at the list of leadership qualities, you may recog- nize these in yourself or in those who have helped you in your journey. And the good news is that all of these qualities can be cultivated. No advanced degree is required, just careful attentiveness to the ongoing activity of God in another person, with the willing- ness to provide guidance as needed.
Leaders who accompany others in this stage need to refrain from offering quick-exit strategies or easy “answers,” even when those in pain are very much looking for answers! Wise leaders focus on being a loving presence—someone who won’t run away in the face of sin, darkness, failure. They listen, invite self-disclosure, share their own story, and ultimately help those they guide to dis- cover God’s story at work in the midst of their own.
While it may seem obvious, we must remember that a willingness to pray with and for someone as they journey through this stage is essential. At the end of the day, there is only so much any one human being can do on behalf of another. But in prayer, we invite God’s power to have full sway in the unseen places. This is no small thing; even deeply submerged mountains can be moved.
Five Questions for Leaders:
- In what ways, if any, are you sensing God’s presence these days?
- In what circumstances is it most difficult to sense God’s presence or goodness?
- What helps you meaningfully connect with God?
- What is the general feeling you have about your prayer these days? Why?
- What are you feeling stuck in your relationship with God?
Mindy Caliguire is the founder Soul Care, a transformation ministry, and Executive Director of Engage International. Her new book, STIR: Spiritual Transformation in Relationships, is a fresh approach to spiritual formation that reclaims an essential biblical truth—spiritual growth is more than a one-size-fits-all program.