Welcome to The Flourishing Culture Podcast! How does a busy Christian leader – with a full plate of responsibilities and activities – maintain an abundant spiritual life so they can effectively lead from that place?
Today, Al is talking with Dr. Ruth Haley Barton, the founder of the Transforming Center located in Wheaton, IL. Ruth is a seasoned spiritual director, teacher and retreat leader. She has served on the pastoral staff of several churches, including Willow Creek. She is a professor of Spiritual Transformation at Northern Seminary, and the author of several spiritual formation books and resources.
Tune in to this illuminating, important and deeply rich conversation, as Al and Ruth discuss the dangers of living out of our false, untransformed selves, and how to cultivate spiritual rhythms to draw us into the presence of God.
Listen to the Audio
In this episode, you’ll learn about:
- Why the most important thing we bring to leadership is not our skills and talents, but our own transformed selves
- Why personal transformation and spiritual growth is critical to your organization’s health, and conversely, why a leader’s personal dysfunctions are damaging to the whole organization
- Ruth’s own personal experience with becoming spiritually depleted
- Indicators to watch for in your own life when something is not right at the soul level
- The danger in believing we deserve something for all of our good work
- How to move toward a place of integration in soul and work
- Developing regular and routine spiritual practices that open ourselves to the presence of God
- The importance of solitary disciplines and silence – especially for driven, activistic types – in helping us see false self patterns and letting them fall away in a profoundly transformational way
- The need for community outside of our work environment; spiritual friends who care about our souls, not our ministry outcomes
- Secularization of the church and Christian ministries: Leaders have begun to seek external measures of success rather internal transformation of character
Developing Spiritual Practices to Transform Our Souls
Ruth shares two dimensions to look at our own spiritual practices. The first is to view our relationships in three concentric circles: our personal relationship with God in solitude, our spiritual community, and engagement with the world in ministry. We must look at each circle diagnostically to balance our spiritual lives, and then develop the following spiritual disciplines within each circle.
- Solitude: silence, scripture, discernment, journaling, self-examination
- Community: listening to corporate teaching, engaging in worship, serving one another with gifts
- The World: external ministry, serving the poor, justice
The second dimension is to examine the timeframes of our week, determine the minimum daily requirement to be well, and make a plan to establish habits in the following disciplines.
- Daily: Give your best time of the day to God. Whenever you feel most awake, alive and alert, listen for God through silence, solitude, Scripture and prayer.
- Weekly: We have 5 days for paid work, a 6th day for your human needs, and a 7th day for Sabbath rest. Make one day your Sabbath and keep it faithfully.
- Monthly or Quarterly: Take a personal retreat in which you pay attention to what is going on inside and allow God to replenish and nourish you in the process.
- Annually: Take all your allotted vacation, and consider an extended time that leaves work behind and allows you to pursue your deeper life with God.
Explore Additional Resources
- Learn more about the Transforming Center: transformingcenter.org
- Find the Transforming Center on Facebook and Twitter
- The Transforming Community, Ruth’s immersive retreat experience
- Al and Ruth discuss the Enneagram
- Dive into Ruth’s books:
Read the Transcript
Download a complete, word-for-word transcript of the episode here.
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