I get ordained in a few days (this coming Sunday!). I have a lot of thoughts swimming as the day approaches. This week has also been a particularly busy one: I’m getting ordained. I’m preaching. I’m administering communion for the first time. I may be giving my first benediction. Using all the gifts afforded to me now that I’ve earned my stripes. I’m also having our first leadership training / fellowship at church.
Honestly, I’m more concerned about that last item than all the other parts. Though I’m more than excited to finally be able to do those parts of service, it is this seemingly “less exciting” bit that stirs me this week.
I don’t normally consider myself an ambitious person. I’m very happy to keep, maintain, and cultivate what’s before me. Perhaps that is why, even in my church planting focused seminary program, I never saw myself as a church planter. Planting just seems too flashy for me.
But I think over time I’ve started to pride myself at not being ambitious. I tend to lean toward “faithfulness” than being “successful.” I may have contented myself into thinking I was doing the right thing by shielding myself from ambition and big projects. But I’m also starting to see a false self in this too. That in my leading people to “slow down,” I may have felt myself so “ahead of the game” so to speak in slowing down that I stopped reflecting on my own patterns.
If I thought myself unambitious, why am i often up at odd hours catching up on work? Why does my day and schedule tend to be packed without space for breathing such that I have to schedule that out separately – as if I could partition breathing out of my whole living!? Surely there’s an ambition even in the way I work. One that drives me to the point that I am blind to my own needs, wants, emotions, concerns.
Spiritual leadership emerges from our willingness to stay involved with our own soul–that place where God’s Spirit is at work stirring up our deepest questions and longings to draw us deeper into relationship with him.
Haley Ruth Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, p25
I want to be involved in my own soul. sometimes what I think is involvement is really the absence of “success” driven ministry, and that is not the same thing. even in the activity of cultivating spiritual maturity… in the practice of building leaders in the church… i can be what Eugene Peterson calls a pastor “in a hurry.” I pray I will not be so in a hurry to build people up that i fail to be involved with my own soul.