Spiritual Formation + Community

Five Reflections on Spiritual Leadership

“Spiritual mentoring is far too important to be left
in the hands of a few with special credentials.”

The following quotes are excerpts from the first chapter of Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide to Seeking and Giving Direction by Keith Anderson and Randy Reese. I highly recommend the book—though as usual, I don’t endorse everything in it—for pastors, counselors and community group leaders.

Imitation of Christ

“Christian faith is an imitative faith. It has always been. Beginning with Jesus’ earliest words to the men and women who would become his apprentices of faith, Christianity has understood itself to be a faith taught by one to another. The life of Jesus Christ must be seen and held as the unique model worthy of imitation for Christians. ‘Jesus, then, is always the attractive source and challenging exemplar for Christian spirituality.’

“‘Follow me’ may be the simplest description of Christian spirituality that exists anywhere, but the simplicity is deceptive. This simple command assumes a complex relationship through which one becomes educated for the reign of God.”

Life Together

“The kind of teaching Jesus provided [his disciples] was very different from the classroom instruction of the academy today…. More like the work of the master craftsman tutoring the young apprentice, Jesus’ style of instruction embodied a pedagogy that invested life in the learner through an incarnation of the message being taught. This teaching was not something that was conceptually defined for his disciples as much as it was lived, experienced, tasted and touched by the learners. Jesus not only spent time instructing, training and informing; he spend much time forming a community.”

Spiritual Leadership

“Spiritual formation, the education of the heart, in other words, requires something more than traditional Western forms of instruction. It requires a mentorship of the heart, a relationship with the teacher of life who is able to convey what was learned from the teacher’s own mentor, a way of ilfe that is formed, not merely instructions that are given…. To educate the heart requires learning that frees the imagination, prepares ears to listen, focuses eyes to look with attentiveness; it requires an open heart.”

“There is a yearning [for spiritual depth] that isn’t satisfied by the normal fare of personal study, prayer and worship. It is a desire for more, a ‘more’ that is impossible to define or explicate; it is a longing to know the richness of ‘the deeper life’ or ‘mature faith’ or ‘spiritual power.’ There are times we may simply try to increase our devotional disciplines to satisfy our longing by reading more and doing more but discover that the longing remains unsatisfied. At other times we turn to the latest technologies, books, tapes, or conferences hoping to satisfy the longing for more, but to no avail. We come to the realization that we need help, that we are not meant to make this journey solo. We learn to listen to the voices of mentors, not as absolute experts with the final authoritative word but more as the shrewd and discerning expressions of those who have traveled this way before.”

Ordinary Mentors

“Spiritual mentoring is far too important to be left in the hands of a few with special credentials and certification; the nurture of the spirit belongs to the baptized, to the church writ large, to the priesthood of all the believers.”

“‘Every community that wants to live beyond a single generation must concern itself with education.’ But it is education of a very particular kind that will keep alive a community and create a body of faith in the next generation; it is education of the soul, spiritual mentoring for spiritual formation.”

“Spirituality is practical: everything can be seen as a container of the holy…. We understand that God’s presence is not confined to that which is sacred; rather God’s grace is mediated through the ordinary.”

Unhurried Growth

“Growth usually happens not with great speed but with great depth, not with hurried steps but with a deliberate gait, not in the style of fast cash machines or instant breakfast but in the style of creation that knows patient time. If you’re looking for immediate results, quick changes and a speedy make-over, then you’ll have to go to the mall, where such things are sold to those gullible enough to buy them.

“Spirituality is not quick and easy because spirituality is about participating in the learning process of life itself, richly cultivated and nourished. The impulsiveness of our culture creates the drifting that characterizes so many instead of the settledness that comes from a solid anchor of the soul. The business of soul making requires an intentional pause along the way to look and to listen, to wonder and ponder, to contemplate and reflect.”



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