Spiritual Formation: Life Abundantly

This post is the last entry of our blog series on Spiritual Leadership while the Freedom to Lead team is in South Asia this month.

Spiritual Formation

This past month we have been talking about the Streams of the Spiritual Life.  Our discussions have addressed both the leader’s personal spiritual development as well as his or her role in the spiritual development of others.  And to do that we need to understand where we’ve come from.

First, we explored about what it means for us to live in the “in-between,” and the significance of understanding each of the streams of the spiritual life, knowing the source to be Christ. From there we moved on to the New Life.  We asked honest questions when looking at the Abiding Life. We then examined the Empowered Life. We asked ourselves what it means to live out the fullest meaning of the presence of God.  We heard John’s Story and Albert’s Story.  We spent quite a bit of time on the Compassionate Life and we ended with the Witnessing Life.

As we are at the end our series, two questions are asked:

  1. We’ve been looking at all of these streams as integrated with each other.  We have said that healthy spiritual leadership is more likely when leaders set out to make ALL these streams an integral part of their lives and leadership.  If integration is our goal, what happens if any one of these streams is practiced in isolation from any of the other streams?  In other words, what are potential weaknesses of the Compassionate Life stream, for example, if practiced in isolation from the New Life, Abiding Life, and Empowered Life?
  2. So, what?  Why does all this matter?  What does all this really mean for me as a leader?

Freedom to Lead’s President, Rick Sessoms, explains it this way:

The church is going through a period of significant transition. Christian organizations worldwide are challenged to identify their distinctive identities. In anticipation of a new generation of potentially unprecedented influence, the church needs to be clear about who we are and why we exist. By making the process of spiritual formation more intentional, we strengthen our ability to provide a clear message about our primary mission for ourselves, the church and the world.

Our response to the New Life involves an Abiding to the vine that is Christ, but to really take advantage of all that can be offered to us we need to experience a sanctifying empowerment.  This Empowered Life is often the impetus for leading a Compassionate Life.  Armed with a sense of justice we are given the boldness to declare Christ as the only way to salvation in our work as Witnesses to His glory, even to the point of death.  But, to realize all of this, we need to figure out how this translates in our day-to-day life in the here and now.

There is a great underlying danger of mistaking information for formation.

As you are processing all of this, I will leave you with one more thing to keep in mind.  There is a great underlying danger of mistaking information for formation.  We can plow right through these topics with the people we lead. We can know all there is to know about each of these streams of the spiritual life.  But, spiritual formation happens when we surrender fully to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives.  A renewed encounter with the living Christ in all these areas invites us to what Jesus was referring to when he said, “I came that they may have Life, and Life Abundantly.” (Jn. 10:10)

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