Provisional Member Retreat

If you’ve followed our journey, you probably know that we are Provisional Elders in The United Methodist Church working toward ordination. As part of the process, we attended a retreat Sunday evening through Monday afternoon. On Monday, Revs. Greg Myers (Wilkes-Barre District Superintendent) and Mark Webb (York District Superintendent) each led us in a discussion about transformational leadership.

Being → Doing
The event amplified some things that I have been feeling challenged about recently, specifically the importance of being, not just doing. A few weeks ago, I wrote the following in my leadership paper (presented to the Board of Ordained Ministry in preparation for next week’s interview) …

Maintaining the connection between being and doing … is vital for me as a Christ-following leader. I want my doing to naturally flow out of my being. As my spiritual gifts develop and strengthen, it becomes easier for me to rely on myself and less on God. In other words, sadly, it’s possible to go through the motions of performing the work of ministry without being vitally connected to God.

In light of this challenge, I am committed to following Christ faithfully, to maintaining a vital connection with God, and to growing in my relationship with God. I seek to maintain a vital connection with God through the practice of spiritual disciplines.

Monday afternoon, Mark Webb specifically talked about being and doing in a session that was especially meaningful/challenging for me, personally. Here are some statements from the day (direct quotes and/or personal reflections on what I heard) …

The old model of ministry leadership emphasizes doing while the new model (i.e., transformational leadership) emphasizes being. Truth is, only leaders who are personally being transformed themselves can help others experience transformation.

God has called you to be a leader!

Churches often expect leaders to be a …

  • Leader
  • Manager
  • Chaplain
  • Hospice Worker

While pastors will perform each role at times, leader is the primary call! However, many times, leaders are simply not willing to lead (fear, lack of confidence, unwillingness to change, etc.).

On the call to lead, I love the statement at the beginning of the article, “The Work of Leadership” (Harvard Business Review), which we were asked to read in preparation for the retreat …

Followers want comfort, stability, and solutions from their leaders. But that’s babysitting. Real leaders ask hard questions and knock people out of their comfort zones. Then they manage the resulting stress.

On the importance of the spiritual formation of a leader, Mark said, if you are spending all of your time visiting, preparing Bible studies, writing sermons, attending meetings, you will not be the leader God called you to be.

The role of the leader is to REPRODUCE (see the Easum quote below).

Finding the big YES: What has God called us to do and be about, primarily? Say no to other things. (You control your calendar!)

God ➞ Family ➞ Church
The order matters. Too many clergy who have made the church first, then God, then family, which has negative consequences. Getting the order right helps to put being before doing (so that doing can flow out of being), which leads to one of my favorite statements from the day. Mark said …

Being must lead to doing. Doing must be based on being.

Mark also discussed a “plan for personal growth,” which was adapted from John Maxwell’s plan in Your Road Map for Success (formerly, The Success Journey). But I need to write another post on that.

During the afternoon break, I took a brief walk and reflected on what I sensed God was saying to me, then wrote …

I am committed to my own spiritual formation. When I leave my current appointment (and/or any other place I serve), what will my legacy be? What will I be remembered for? While I certainly want to be productive/fruitful (doing), I want my legacy to be something like, I really grew more like Christ (i.e., experienced ongoing spiritual transformation) in this part of my journey (being) and I helped a lot of other people experience spiritual transformation as well (beingdoing).

Throughout the day, there was a statement running through my mind, a statement I heard Bill Easum make on the early-September event, The Nines (which I wrote about here and here). Easum, who was making the point that leaders must set their own agenda, based on their call and their vision, said …

I can’t tell you how many pastors reach age 55 and look back over their ministry and they never have done what God called them to do, they did what the church wanted them to do.

That’s a regret I want to avoid!

Incidentally, The Nines videos were just posted today. For more on being, David Foster’s video on preparation is a must-see!

Well, as I said, God must be trying to get my attention about this being/doing stuff! 🙂

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