I am constantly in the process of being humbled and amazed, and it is wonderful.
Do you know how much, in my journey from my life before God to a life lived with God, I petitioned him to know the end game? To reveal to me the places where we were going together? And I was given hints but the majority of the time it was one step at a time. Infuriating, frustrating, and aggravating.
But so, so good. It revealed God’s faithfulness. It deepened our relationship. I was shown my vast capacity to trust in God and to rest in love. I found myself as I was seeking God and discovered what I was made of: love, compassion, empathy and hope. I found freedom in becoming the person I was designed to be and found healing and restoration in my body, heart and soul. I discovered faith is less a destination than a journey, and the beauty in it is astounding.
One of the things that I found particularly insightful was “The Essentials of Christian Spirituality-The Four Nonnegotiable Pillars of the Spiritual Life.” Great fulfillment comes from filling all of these functions and it’s because we were designed to do them. “…Jesus prescribed four things as an essential praxis for a healthy spiritual life: a) Private Prayer and private morality; b) social justice; c) mellowness of heart and spirit; and d) community as a constitutive element of true worship.” (Rolheiser, 53) Without the growth and development of all of these elements within my life I would not have the foundation or the relationship with God that I do now. I realize that these four branches were all working together powerfully to both deepen my faith and bear fruit.
The second insightful section I liked was about The Word being made flesh. “God takes on the flesh so that every home becomes a church, every child becomes the Christ-child, and all food and drink becomes a sacrament.” (Rolheiser, 78) I recently began reading the Old Testament and within it you see God sometimes speak in plural. Since the Word became flesh which was Jesus and it says that the Word was with God in the beginning, did Jesus from the start know of His sacrifice? Within the Old Testament I also see the foreshadowing of Christ and his death, even as Abraham tells his son that God will provide the lamb. This section definitely gave me a lot to consider.
The third insight I felt really resonated with me was the reconciliation and forgiveness of sins. “We have our sins forgiven by being in community with each other, at table with each other… we will never go to hell as long as we are touching the community-touching it with sincerity and modicum of contrition.” (Rolheiser, 87-88) I feel like there is greater effectiveness in communal repentance than perhaps going to an individual at a church, although he does speak to the value of that later. My community knows me. They know how to love me, encourage me, challenge me and chastise me. I must make myself be vulnerable and confess, but wanting to change my ways for my community is a big motivation. Their ability to see what is and isn’t effective in modifying my behavior also helps. I see a lot of value in this.
When I consider his book and how we can apply it to leadership, one excerpt I particularly like is from a man who thought his issues weren’t that bad. “As best as I can put it, now that I go regularly to Alcoholics and Sexual Anonymous meetings, is that I see in colors again. Before that, I wasn’t a bad person, but I was always so taken up with my own needs and yearnings that… I wasn’t really seeing what was in front of me.” (Rolheiser, 230) There is value to what God asks us. Of course in this example it is some of the more obvious cases like avoiding drunkenness and sexual immorality. But the guidelines Jesus gives us to follow are fruitful not just for others; they bear fruit for us as well. Additionally, I learn that we might be better leaders if we were more like the Father in Rembrandt’s Father of the Prodigal Son. In that painting, Rembrandt portrayed the Father as blind. “The implication is obvious, God sees with the heart.” (Rolheiser, 240). When I consider the best leaders I know, this is what I see: people with a compassionate heart who teach others instead of mock, who forgive quickly, love fully and give generously. The greatest leaders are the ones who are vulnerable, make themselves accessible and are humble even as they come in to save us. Those are Christ-like qualities and those are also things this book describes excellently.