when leaders search for God

April 24, 2008

There is so much I would want to write about, my visit with Tom yesterday and my dissertation topic which finally seem be getting finalized (and which I’m very excited about) being on the immediate list. But I promised that I’d blog on this topic about a week ago, so I’ll keep my promise first.

Probably nearly no one has actually followed my conversation with Deborah, but if you’ve read what I’ve written in the last synchroblog, I can now gladly add that we might just actually be on our way to finding a peaceful conversation, which would be great. But first, my promise to blog on this was made to Deborah. At one stage, when the conversation was quite heated, she made the following remark:

I have a question – maybe two. If you are still searching for God, for the Lord, what are you doing in a leadership role in your church? Perhaps I was mistaken, but from your posts, it sounds like you work as a leader in a church. How can you lead others to Christ, if you don’t really know Him?

This was in response to the following comment I made:

Maybe because I hope that one more person can believe that I, and many others like me, are seriously searching for God, attempting to live in the way of Jesus…

I guess a few remarks would suffice for now:

It’s interesting how many people have the idea that spiritual leaders are those who have “made it” in the spiritual realm. Who have “found God” (isn’t it supposed to be the other way around, that God should find me?).

It’s even more interesting how the idea that we could actually stop searching for God is so popular, especially if I’m the one doing the searching (I guess if God is finding me, then I could say the process ends at some point). But OK, now I’m playing around with metaphysical junk, which is not really what I like to do, so let’s move on.

What will happen if a spiritual leader say that (s)he is searching for God? I guess some would like to re-enact crusifixion, and others would like to kiss the leader. Some want to hear that the leader has it all sorted out, others want to know that the leader goes through the same struggles they do (and there are some whoa re even OK if the leader go through more struggles than they do).

This said, I guess we would need to rethink the role of spiritual leaders. If they are not those with everything sorted out, what can make them the leader? Can there be leaders? I think one way might be saying that the spiritual leader is the theologian, helping people in their thoughts about God. The theologian can do this by pointing to more than personal experience, the long tradition of the church in all it’s colors can also come into play, even if the leader consider himself to be a searcher. But maybe this only focus on one dimension of spiritual leadership.

Or maybe it’s all about relationship. In relationship I can follow spiritual leaders even if they consider themselves as people “searching for God”, the less I know someone, I think the more I would want to know that they “have it made” spiritually, even if I don’t believe it if anyone say that they have “made it” spiritually.

Any thoughts? Would you be comfortable if those you consider to be your spiritual mentors tell you they are searching for God?

5 Responses to “when leaders search for God”

  1. Tom Smith Says:

    Searching for God, for me, is one of the primary traits of a leader.

    If you’ve found God and stopped the searching then your ossified version of God is only one step away from becoming an idol. We’ve always been called the “people of the way”. The metaphor of journey is implicit to our faith journey – the Psalms reverberates with this.

    A few years ago I did a sermon on U2’s “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” – as you can imagine some loved it – others hated it.

    We are all in a searching of God, a becoming and a journey with and towards a Person who described Himself with the metaphor of the way.

    BTW – thanks for hanging out yesterday

  2. Cobus Says:

    I still want to work out some sermons where U2 “sets the agenda” for how we discuss theology. One day…

  3. Adam Moore Says:

    I have a spiritual mentor who “has it all figured out.” Over the years I feel less and less able to learn anything from him – because he is not able to learn anything from me (because he has it all figured out). Also, when I come to him as a seeker, he responds with “answers.” That is no longer what I am looking for.

  4. Cobus Says:

    More and more of us seem to have this experience. Even on an academic level, I like to work with promotors who can also point out when I have a good idea which they haven’t thought about yet, rather than simply having all the answers. I mean, even with research, what’s the point working with someone who has it all figured out? Then research isn’t necessary anymore…

  5. krasnodama Says:

    I wonder if we have it all figured out, how can there be room for possibilities?

    When one person is the invincible, all knowing vision caster, it is my experience that voices are muted and creativity dies. Besides I often can’t hear God over the drone.

    Is there chaos with multiple voices? Of course, but out of chaos God creates…

    Give me a vulnerable leader any day; that’s the journey I will take because even with its twists and turns, I can hear God’s presence.


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