12-10-19 - Spiritual Leaders

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

What do you think a holy man or woman should look like? What should be the markers of "success" for spiritual leaders? This is what Jesus asks the crowds about how they viewed John the Baptist. "What did you go out there to the desert to look at? Were you just spiritual tourists gawking at the latest guru? Did you think you were going to see a smooth-talking, well-dressed leader, get a little charge, and leave your life unchanged?"

Advent is a good time to examine our spiritual motivations, what is it we are truly yearn for, why we engage or disengage from spiritual community. It is easy to become disenchanted with church and clergy - or to expect too much. Today, let's do a little inventory. When we can name our expectations, we can better manage them.

What are your expectations of your spiritual community? When you are disappointed or disaffected, what is the cause? Do you communicate that, distance yourself, or engage more?

What are your expectations of your spiritual leaders? 
In what ways do they bless you? How do they disappoint?

As you name these truths, think how you want to respond. Don't forget to pray for your community and your clergy - they are a part of you, and you of them. (I am spending today in an Advent retreat with fellow clergy. I invite your prayers for us, as I will pray for you.)

The role of spiritual leaders can be described in the words Jesus used about John, "This is the one about whom it is written, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'"

Clergy can be messengers of God's Word, God's love, God's calls and invitations.At our best, we help people to prepare a spiritual way, and help them walk it, without getting in the way. The more clarity you have about how you want to grow in faith, the better your leaders can help prepare the way.

And the more you grow, the more you can help your pastor walk the way of truth and grace - and then our congregations truly become spiritual communities.

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