Monday, November 14, 2011

Expressions of companioning

“He who falls alone remains alone in his fall, and he values his soul little since he entrusts it to himself alone.” - St. John of the Cross

Palmer begins the chapter “Living the Questions: Experiments with Truth” byPalmer relating his personal struggle with growing older and the fear of “becoming a 72 year old man who doesn’t know who he is when his books are out of print and the audiences are no longer applauding” (p. 131). Confronting this fear with a group of friends led him to develop a retirement plan for exploring who he might be besides a writer and speaker. This reminds me of a story well-known Christian author James Dobson told during a time when he put so much pride in being a good writer. His perspective on the importance of writing books changed after finding his first best seller Dare to Discipline (1970) in a garage sale for less than a dollar! Suddenly he realized the longevity of even his “best work” was not that long after all. This event triggered a time of soul searching for Dobson much like Palmer describes.

It is at these times Palmer recommends a person seek the help of a “clearness committee” – a concept from the Quaker tradition whereby a group of trusted friends gather around a focus person to ask the right questions that enable to soul of that person to arise and provide clarity. This concept reminds me of Proverbs 20:5, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (NIV). For Palmer, the drawing out of the soul’s purposes comes through a structured session of open-ended questions, observing, confidentiality and prayer.

Such spiritual support has been well-known throughout church history and across many traditions. In many cases it has been referred to by the catch-all term “spiritual direction”, whereby directors help a person notice and respond to the movement of God. In my spiritual tradition, (Evangelical/Pentecostal) people have long gathered in small groups for cottage prayer meetings, as accountability partners, and so on. However, the dynamic of strictly following open-ended questioning, listening, observing, and drawing out the soul/inner teacher seems like a much needed addition. I would guess it is because Pentecostals are so drawn to manifestations of spiritual gifts of prophecy and words of wisdom or knowledge that there seems to be a lot more telling than asking in that tradition!

What seems common to all these expressions is companioning. The inner journey is probably best not taken alone. We are either too soft on ourselves or too hard on ourselves – I know I do. It has been suggested to most important things ever said are the things we say to ourselves. A fellow traveler often helps us find a better perspective.


Palmer. P. J. (2004). A Hidden Wholeness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What is the spirit of leadership? Part 3

Here’s a collection of particularly good quotes from Miles Munroe’s Spirit of Leadership (Witaker House, 2005):

  • Learning comes from education, while knowing comes from revelation.Munroe Learning is cognitive, while knowing is spiritual. You do not really change until you “know.” Knowing changes your mind, which transforms your attitude, which, in turn, directs, and regulates your behavior. (pp. 44-45)
  • …the secret to greatness is in serving everyone else. To understand this principle, you must answer the question, “What do I serve to others? I believe that this is the greatest revelation of true leadership I have ever discovered and exceeds all the theories and research from the past. What Jesus is stating here is that, to become the great leader you were created and destined to become, you must discover your unique inherent gift and assignment (your original purpose) and serve that to the world of mankind. Do not seek greatness, but seek to serve your gift to others to the maximum extent that you can, and you will become a sought-after person. (p. 96)
  • If you find your unique gift or special talent and commit to serving it to the world of mankind, then your significance will cause people to seek you out. You will become an influence through exercising your gift, rather than through manipulation. The more you become a person whose gift is valued, the greater your influence will be. (p. 97)
  • Exerting proper influence means inspiring others through the leadership gift that we have been given. The true nature of leadership is the attraction of others to our gifts, which are deployed in their service. (p. 103)
  • In effect, the nature of the leadership spirit is to be comfortable in the presence of power, authority, and might without being intimidated. When the leadership spirit is fully restored, you revere and respect God and his authority but are never fearful in his presence; you rejoice in his company. True leaders respect and honor authority but are comfortable in its presence. (p. 116)
  • The nature of the leadership spirit includes the following: 1) manager of one’s environment; 2) exerter of influence; and 3) comfortable with power. (p. 122)
  • Manifesting the spirit of leadership is a matter of discovering and nurturing your true self so that you naturally evidence your leadership nature. (p. 124)
  • Again, self esteem is your awareness of your value to your environment…Our disposition toward ourselves and the world comes from our self-estimation. Our self-estimation, in turn, comes from our awareness of our value to our world. This is where we get our sense of significance and contribution in life…You must come to the point where you are convinced and convicted that you and your gift are necessary. True leaders believe that they are needed by their generation and the world. (pp. 133-134)
  • The answer, I believe, is not a lack of raw material or potential but the absence of right information, training, and an environment conducive to producing the mentality, mind-set, and altitudes necessary for this leadership potential to be ignited. This is the spirit of leadership. True leadership has more to do with mind-set than with methods and techniques. (p. 186)
  • Attitudes are nothing more than habits of thought produced by your self-image, self-worth, and self-esteem, and habit can be acquired and changed by the reconditioning of the mind. (p. 219)
  • The day we take responsibility for our attitudes is the day that we truly grow up. (p. 220)
  • One of our major responsibilities as leaders is determining what is best for us according our life’s purpose and vision. (p. 240)
  • Attitude is the power of leadership. Nothing can stop a person from achieving success who has the right attitude. You can always make up in attitude what you lack in education. Yet nothing can help the person who has the wrong attitude. (pp. 288-289)