Friday, December 19, 2008
Monday, December 08, 2008
Leadership often draws the wrong kinds of leaders. Positions of power and influence have the tendency to attract the proud and the upwardly mobile individualists. Contemporary leadership authors have gone as far as describing organizational leaders as idols, heroes, saviors, warriors, magicians, and even as omnipotent demi-gods. But recently more voices within organizational discourse have been raised to question our perception and acceptance of these power-vested models of leadership. Could leaders be humble, many wonder? It seems that the tide started to turn as the century did, in favor of a virtuous approach to leadership, culminating in the publication of Jim Collins’ pioneering article on Level 5 Leadership in the January 2001 edition of the Harvard Business Review. Collins proposed that the “most powerfully transformative executives” surveyed in his study all possessed the virtue of personal humility.
Although Collin’s work does not describe the process of formation of humble leaders, it does provide an erudite four-fold description of organizational leadership humility:
- Personally humble leaders demonstrate a compelling modesty. They shun public adulation and never boast.
- Personally humble leaders act with calm and quiet determination, not relying on inspiring charisma to motivate but rather inspired standards.
- Personally humble leaders avoid personal ambition in favor of multi-generational organizational growth and development.
- Personally humble leaders are self-reflective and tend to appropriate blame towards themselves are not others.
How then is humility formed in leaders? It might not come as a surprise that Jim Collins is not the first person to describe the possibility and power of leadership humility. A sixth-century Christian monk, St. Benedict of Nursia (480-540 A.D.), the father of Western Cenobitic Monasticism, wrote a rule in which he provided his followers with a twelve step process description of how humility is formed in followers and leaders alike. Benedict’s rule on humility has worked well as a guide and “spiritual manual” facilitating personal and communal transformation within the Benedictine Order and others for well over 1500 years.
For the rest of the article see this link.
 Taylor, Barbara Brown. 2005. The Evils of Pride and Self-Righteousness. The Living Pulpit, October-December 2005:5.
 Morris, J. Andrew, Brotheridge, Céleste M., and Urbanski, John C. 2005. Bringing humility to leadership: Antecedents and consequences of leader humility. Human Relations, 58/10: 1323-1350.
 See Dickson, John P. and Rosner, Brian S. 2004. Humility as a Social Virtue in the Hebrew Bible? Vetus Testamentum LIV,4:459-479; and Elsberg, Robert. 2003. The Saints’ Guide to Happiness. New York: North Point Press.
 Collins, Jim. 2001. Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review, January: 66-76.
Collins, Jim. 2001. Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. Harvard Business Review, January: 66-76.
 Cheline, Paschal G. 2003. Christian Leadership: A Benedictine Perspective. American Theological Library Association Summary of Proceedings 57:107-113.
 Waaijman, Kees. 2002. Spirituality: Forms, Foundations, Methods. Leuven: Peeters.
 Mitchell, Nathan D. 2008. Liturgy and Life: Lessons in Benedict. Worship 82/2:161-174.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
In Tampa, Florida, Without Walls International Church is facing foreclosure. The megachurch, which once attracted 23,000 worshipers and was heralded as one of the nation’s fastest-growing congregations, shrunk drastically after co-pastors Randy and Paula White announced in 2007 that they were divorcing. On Nov. 4 their bank filed foreclosure proceedings and demanded immediate repayment of a $12 million loan on the property.
In Duluth, Georgia—northeast of Atlanta—sheriff’s deputies arrived at Global Destiny Ministries and ordered Bishop Thomas Weeks II to leave the property. According to documents filed in state court, Weeks—who divorced popular preacher Juanita Bynum in June—owed more than $511,000 in back rent to the building’s owners. He was escorted out of the building on Nov. 14 while a church service was in progress.
In addition, the bank that called the loan on Without Walls also began foreclosure proceedings on its satellite campus in Lakeland, Florida. That massive campus with its 10,000-seat sanctuary was once known as Carpenter’s Home Church. Under the leadership of Assemblies of God pastor Karl Strader it enjoyed huge success, but its membership dwindled in the 1990s, and it was sold to the Whites in 2005.
A crisis hit Without Walls two years later when the Whites announced from their pulpit that they were divorcing. They did not give specific reasons, but Randy said he took “100 percent responsibility” for the breakup. He later told Charisma: “This was a decision of last resort after years of prayer and counseling.”
In the case of the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, many parishioners walked out 16 years ago when it became known that Earl Paulk and other staff members were involved in wife-swapping. Paulk created a bizarre culture of secrecy to cover the immorality, which included his affair with a sister-in-law—and resulted in the birth of Donnie Earl (who thought he was Earl Paulk’s nephew until last year). The church has only had a few hundred members in recent years.
Today, Donnie Earl has embraced the inclusionist doctrines of Oklahoma pastor Carlton Pearson, who left the faith in 2003 and was labeled a heretic by a group of African-American bishops the following year. The younger Paulk now preaches that all people, not just Christians, are saved. He told Charisma last week that the Cathedral “has expanded to include all of God’s creation—Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, gay, straight, etc.” And this distorted message is broadcast from a pulpit that hosted the premier leaders of the charismatic movement during the 1970s and 1980s.
Even before Weeks was charged with assaulting Bynum in a hotel parking lot in August 2007, the pastor of Global Destiny Ministries defiled his pulpit during a “Teach Me to Love You” marriage conference. He told married men they should use profanity during sex to heighten their experience, and he brought couples on stage to play a game in which men were asked to name their favorite female body parts.
Lord, help us.
Was it supposed to end like this? How did a movement that was at one time focused on winning people to Christ and introducing them to the power of the Holy Spirit end in such disgrace?
I hear the sound of bricks and steel beams crashing to the ground. The wrecking ball of heaven is swinging. It has come to demolish any work that has not been built on the integrity of God’s Word.
All of us should be trembling. God requires holiness in His house and truth in the mouths of His servants. He is loving and patient with our mistakes and weaknesses, but eventually, if there is no repentance after continual correction, His discipline is severe. He will not be mocked.
Romans 11:22 says: “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off” (NASB).
God is not married to our buildings. If He allowed foreign armies to burn Jerusalem and its glorious temple, He will also write “Ichabod” on the doors of churches where there is no repentance for compromise.
I pray the fear of God will grip our hearts until we cleanse our defiled pulpits. Let’s examine our hearts and our ministries. Let’s throw out the wood, hay and stubble and build on a sure and tested foundation. It is the only way to survive the meltdown.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
This research study presents a 13-item instrument to measure the level of hope in employees relative to their belief in the positive outcome of strategic plans. The singlefactor scale has a Cronbach alpha of .912. The premise of the research is that people may be unwilling to invest time and effort into the implementation of strategic plans if they do not have hope/faith in the success of the plans. Theoretical support comes from Vroom’s expectancy theory, means efficacy theory, Porter’s value chain, and Snyder’s hope theory. The practical application of this study lies in the notion that it may be beneficial for leaders to understand the level of employees’ hope in the success of strategic plans before implementing those plans.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Through the use of hymn and homology, as well as the rhetorical dramatic use of language, Paul is able to illustrate the appropriate attitude for the believer. He also provides, through the example of Christ, a rubric for Christian leadership: humility, selflessness, and servanthood. This approach stands in contrast to the prevailing cultural context of the recipients of the epistle, and continues to be a powerful statement on a leadership paradigm that challenges many traditional leadership models. A socio-rhetorical examination of the text reveals as many questions as answers. Those questions challenge the exegete to take a broader view that takes into consideration the implications of the text in light of the prevailing culture of Philippi in the first century, as well as that of the twenty-first century. This text, in light of contemporary culture, is a corrective comment for modern human leadership endeavors. download/print article
Monday, November 17, 2008
The presenter will use Kees Waaijman’s matrix for defining spirituality to explore and discuss examples of spiritualities that include leadership as part of their inner values. Two established schools of spirituality, as they relate to spiritual leadership, will be discussed: the asceticism of early Egyptian monasticism and the kenotic mysticism of St. Francis of Assisi.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
"Community: The Structure of Belonging" by Peter Block Modern society is characterized by isolation and a weakened social fabric. The various sectors of our communities—businesses, schools, social service organizations, churches, government—work in parallel, not in concert. They exist in their own worlds as do so many individual citizens, who long for connection but end up marginalized, their gifts overlooked, their potential contributions lost. This disconnection and detachment makes it hard if not impossible to envision a common future and work towards it together.
We know what healthy communities look like—there are many success stories out there, and they've been described in detail. What Block provides in this inspiring new book is an exploration of the exact way community can emerge from fragmentation. How is community built? How does the transformation occur? What fundamental shifts are involved? He explores a way of thinking about our places that creates an opening for authentic communities to exist and details what each of us can do to make that happen.
"My intent" he writes, "is provide structural ways to create the experience of belonging, not just in those places where people come to just be together socially, but especially in places where we least expect it. This includes those places where people come together to get something done. These are our meetings, dialogues, conferences, planning processes––all those occasions where we gather to reflect on and decide the kind of future we want for ourselves."
Citizens have the power to change the community story and bring a new context into being. Block shows us how we can overcome isolation and anxiety and create communities alive with energy and possibility. This book is written to support those who care for the well being of their communities. It is for anyone who wants to be part of an organization, neighborhood, city, or country that works for all, and who have the faith and the energy to create such a place.
"More than Money" by Mark Albion
What are you going to do with your lucky lottery ticket? That’s a question every MBA faces. A lot of time and money has been invested in you, and once you graduate you’re supposed to cash that ticket in for as much money and status as you can. Your parents and peers expect it. And you may feel that there’s really no other choice. You can’t risk wasting that expensive education. It’s the safe thing to do. Isn’t it?Not necessarily.
Mark Albion doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but his unique perspective can help you find yours. There are other ways to look at potential risks and rewards, even when you have thousands of dollars of student loans to pay back. Money is important but it’s not the key to fulfillment. The “safe” choice, the most monetarily rewarding one, can carry enormous psychological and spiritual pain.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “Sometimes money costs too much.”In More Than Money, Albion redefines the typical way the risk/reward equation is written, using his own life story and those of the many entrepreneurs, executives and MBAs he’s met as both cautionary and inspirational tales. He introduces a framework of four crucial questions to consider when thinking about your career choices, as well as “lifelines," principles that can help you answer these questions and guide you to construct your personal, strategic destiny plan.
A consciousness-raising book as well as a career guide, More Than Money encourages MBA students to give themselves permission to be who they really want to be and find their path of service. For, as Albion says, in the end “we won't remember you for the size of your wallet as much as the size of your heart.”
Friday, October 17, 2008
Recent scholarly and popular-press descriptions of spiritual direction have widely disagreed on the nature, theories and applications of this age-old ministry of spiritual formation. It has been become evident to scholars and practitioners alike that a return to a serious re-examination of the Biblical roots of spiritual direction is what is needed. Cohan’s well-written and critical monograph seeks to provide a first step in a contemporary re-evaluation of the Apostle Paul’s approach to spiritual direction and formation. This study uses a case study approach exploring the social, cultural and spiritual functions of Paul as spiritual director in the various Christian communities that he founded along the Mediterranean Sea. Emphasis is placed in this study on Paul’s understanding, aims and praxis of spiritually forming his follower. Cohan concludes by drawing parallels to contemporary approaches of spiritual direction.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
· Intellectual Conversion. Christian Leaders “constantly rethink or evaluate” their own and others “moral framework” and this involves the disciplines of “self-awareness and critique” in order to develop the virtue of prudence (correct judgment).
· Affective Conversion. Christian Leaders have a high regard for othokardia (right heartedness towards God). Leaders consider the ultimate location of their affections and adopt ascetic disciplines (such as the traditional Monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) to guide their hearts back to God.
· Volitional Conversion. Christian Leaders seek to have a “redeemed human will” that moves from willfulness (identified as arrogant self-sufficiency) to willingness (described as flexible receptivity).
· Relational Conversion. A Christian Leader’s “moral conscience” is formed and challenged in community. Christian Leaders engage in “moral relational power” that brings personal and communal transformation to perceptions and applications of leadership.
· Moral Action. The intellectual, affective, volitional and relational conversions of Christian Leaders result in “moral action” that facilitates the wider conversion of the world in which these leaders operate.
Kretzschmar, L. (2002). Authentic Christian Leadership and Spiritual Formation in Africa. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 113:41-60.
Kretzschmar, L. (2007). The Formation of Moral Leaders in South Africa: A Christian-Ethical Analysis of Some Essential Elements. Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 128:18-36.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I could be perfectly happy to go up into those mountains and disappear. But at least up to this point, that has not been my lot. There is a sense of call to take leadership roles. You're serving people and submitting to God as best you can.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Conducted in English, this conference strives to bring together different perspectives, disciplines and spiritual traditions as leading scholars from the USA, Europe and Asia systematically explore the nature, determination and implications of the spiritual dimensions of organizational leadership.
Those wishing to present at the conference must submit their proposals for poster presentations or abstracts for oral presentations by November 30, 2008. Notifications of acceptance will be provided by December 15, 2008. Full papers will then be due by January 15, 2009.
A pre-conference International Research Workshop on Spiritual and Ethical Foundations of Organizational Development will be held February 5-7 and will provide an opportunity for scholars to discuss on-going or proposed research projects and form collaborative relationships aimed at building a formal research base addressing multiple aspects of spirituality in organizations. Workshop participants will present their projects and studies in a roundtable format.
Those wishing to present in the pre-conference workshop must submit their abstracts by November 30, 2008. Notification of acceptance will be provided by December 15, 2008. Full papers will then be due by January 15, 2009
For more information and to register online for the 2nd International Conference on Integrating Spirituality and Organizational Leadership, go to: www.regent.edu/global/conferences
Friday, August 08, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
- Revere the Simple Rules
- Reject your Personal Desires
- Obey Others
- Endure Affliction
- Confess Your Weaknesses
- Practice Contentment
- Learn Self Reproach
- Obey the Common Rule
- Understand that Silence is Golden
- Meditate on Humility
- Speak Simply
- Act Humbly In Appearance
"Brethren, the Holy Scripture cries to us saying: 'Every one that exalts himself shall be humbled; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.' The first degree of humility, then, is that a man always have the fear of God before his eyes shunning all forgetfulness and that he be ever mindful of all that God hath commanded…". - St. Benedict of Nursia
Source: Galbraith, C. S. and Galbraith, O. (2004). “The Benedictine Rule of Leadership”. Avon: Avons Media.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I shall come to know my nature.
And what is my nature, boundless love?
It is fire,
because you are nothing but a fire of love.
And you have given humankind
a share in this nature,
for by the fire of love
you created us.
And so with all other people
and every created thing;
you made them out of love.
O ungrateful people!
What nature has your God given you?
His very own nature!
Are you not ashamed to cut yourself off from such a noble thing
through the guilt of deadly sin?
O eternal Trinity,
my sweet love!
give us light.
give us wisdom.
You, supreme strength,
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth
with a free and simple heart.
God, come to our assistance!
Lord, make haste to help us!
Taken from The Prayers of Catherine of Siena. 2nd edition. Suzanne Noffke, OP, translator and editor. (San Jose.: Authors Choice Press, 2001)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Kourie, C.E.T. (2006). The “Turn” to Spirituality. Acta Theologica Supplementum 8, 19-38.
Monday, June 16, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Friday, June 06, 2008
Under the leadership of Dr. Corné Bekker and Dr. Doris Gomez, Inner Resources is a popular-press magazine that covers topics such as leadership and spirituality, the devotional habits/disciplines of leaders, devotional reflections for leaders, spiritual direction and leadership, spiritual formation and leadership, Christian leadership in history, theories and models of spiritual leadership, Christian leadership, and religious leadership. Inner Resources also profiles inspirational leaders in Christian history.
"We have a wealth of deeply spiritual and authentic leaders that have walked this difficult road before us, the ultimate being Jesus of Nazareth," noted Bekker. Through Inner Resources, "we hope to explore inner resources that could help us all locate, define and ultimately model biblical, ethical and authentic models of leadership." To stimulate scholarly debate and a free flow of ideas, Inner Resources is published in electronic format and provides access to all issues free of charge. To learn more about Inner Resources for Leaders and to register for a free subscription, visit: www.regent.edu/innerresources .
Saturday, May 24, 2008
May we recover our basic humanity that will allow us to recognize the humanity and value of each person.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The notion of guanxi signifies relationships and relationship building. The concept is an essential part in the development and success of businesses in China. In order for foreign firms to successfully enter China they must have a solid understanding of the concept of guanxi. In this article, the concept of guanxi and its role in contemporary China is explored and compared with the Christian concept of perichoretic hospitality. If foreign firms intend to enter and succeed in China, an understanding of guanxi and its managerial and business implications is critical.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
There is a story told (Arnold & Fry, 1988) about the twentieth-century pilgrim William McElwee Miller that might help us to think clearly about the travel necessities required in our journey of truth-seeking: "While travelling along the border of Iran and Afghanistan, Dr. Miller had encountered a Muslim sage. Together the missionary and the mullah rode along the narrow path. In the course of their conversion the Persian asked the Presbyterian, 'What is Christianity?' Dr. Miller said, 'It is like a journey. For that trip I need four things – bread, for nourishment; water, for refreshment; a book, for direction; and opportunity, for service. These are my pilgrim fare. Jesus provided me with these things. I trust Him on my way. That is Christianity." This book that we have been given on our journey for direction is a collection of sacred Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, the Bible; through which we are invited to respond to the reality of our Creator and omnipresent God with a love and devotion that includes not only our body and heart, but also our critical faculties (see Jesus' use of the great "Shema" of Deuteronomy 6:5 in Matthew 22:37).
Exegesis is the interpretative process of finding, seeing and hearing God in the Sacred Scriptures (Deist, 1992), the collective history of those faithful pilgrims that have come before us in the journey. Christian Scholars bring their own expertise and the academic disciplines particular to their field to the reading of these Scriptures, and thus to the academic discipline of Biblical exegesis. M.D. Chenu (Holmberg, 1990), a sociologist, comments how the critical thinking skills of the academe assist us in discovering the "revealing" of God in our history and thus by application in the contemporary world: "When God reveals Himself to humans, He does not reveal Himself according to His own knowledge, but according to the human spirit, beginning with the simple rules of grammar and language. When this Divine communication is realized in a community that calls itself the Church, it follows in its humanization the laws and rules of collective knowledge, that any sociologist [or linguist, or for that matter any literate person] can observe in human societies." The literacy of each academic discipline can become a window through which we can once again observe this "Divine communication" in our world.
Richard Foster (2008), in his recent book on reading the Bible for spiritual formation, proposes four steps in reading the Scriptures that are helpful for the Christian scholar's quest for Biblical integration in the various fields of the academe:
- Read the Scriptures literally: The Christian scholar uses all the tools of linguistic, rhetorical and communication analyses to enter into the words of the sacred texts.
- Read the Scriptures in its historic and social contexts: The Christian scholar avoids anachronistic and ethnocentric readings of the sacred texts by utilizing the disciplines of history, sociology and anthropology to enter into the world of the people of the Bible.
- Read the Scriptures in conversation with itself: The Christian scholar allows Scripture to interpret Scripture and forms conclusions and interpretations based on rigorous synthesis so as to enter the larger message of the sacred texts.
- Read the Scriptures in conversation with the historic witness of the People of God: The Christian scholar joins the theological and philosophical discussions of two thousand years in a continued quest to enter into the truths of the sacred texts and its implications for our world.
We are a pilgrim people on a sacred journey in a quest to "incarnate" God's truths in our world. We do not walk blindly. We have been given a book for our journey, a sacred book that is God-breathed and "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16); a book that provides direction for pilgrims on the way of truth.
"Christians feed on Scripture. Holy Scripture nurtures the holy community as food nurtures the human body. Christians don't simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such ways that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus' name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son."
– Eugene Peterson (2006)
Arnold, D. W., & Fry, C. G. (1988). Francis: A Call to Conversion. Grand Rapids: Cantilever Books.
Deist, F. (1992). A Concise Dictionary of Theological and Related Terms. Pretoria: J. L. Van Schaik.
Foster, R. (2008). Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation. New York: HarperCollins.
Holmberg, B. (1990). Sociology and the New Testament: An Appraisal. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
Peterson, E. (2006). Eat This Book. Rand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Scaperlanda, M., & Scaperlanda, M. R. (2004). The Journey: A Guide for the Modern Pilgrim. Chicago: Loyola Press.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
- Leadership and Spirituality
- The Devotional Habits/Disciplines of Leaders
- Devotional Reflections for Leaders
- Leadership Profiles of Inspirational Leaders in Christian History
- Spiritual Direction and Leadership
- Spiritual Formation and Leadership
- Christian Leadership in History
- Theories and Models on Spiritual Leadership
- Christian Leadership
- Religious Leadership
I am overjoyed at working with Dr. Doris Gomez as a co-editor on this project. The bi-monthly magazine will launch later this week, but here is a link for an early preview: www.regent.edu/innerresourcesforleaders
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
George Fox (1624-1691), a laymen started a counter-movement (later known as the Quakers) centered in the belief that a new age of the Spirit has come and that the ultimate guide of faith was the indwelling presence of the Spirit. Fox encouraged voluntary simple living based on the guidance of the Spirit and did not allow any ministers to receive any form of monetary payment for ministry.
During this same time period another spiritual movement arose from the critique that the emphasis of “salvation by faith alone” of the Protestant churches resulted in little interest in serious spiritual formation. This counter-movement became known as the Puritan revival and soon sought to balance Protestant “faith-alone emphasis” with elements of patristic and medieval spiritualities, amongst those elements the disciplines of frugality and simplicity (Callen, 2001).
The genius of both the marginal counter-movements of Puritan and Quaker spiritualities is that they both “rediscovered the power of moving from speculation to experience, thereby providing verification of the reality of spiritual experience by the only evidence which is convincing, ‘the evidence of the changed lives’…” (Callen, 2001:140). In time, both these counter-movements became known for the radical commitments and stances their adherents embodied, such as resistance against slavery, complete commitment to non-violence and the values of frugality and experiential simplicity. It is important to note that the discipline of frugality and simplicity were not limited to economic and lifestyle choices, such as where to live, what the wear, what kind of work to do; but also intra-personal (such as worship, introspection, etc) and inter-personal dynamics. The contemporary Quaker author, Robert L. Smith (1998:63) summarizes the role of simplicity in Christian witness: “Simplicity helps us to live to the point, to clear the way to the best, to keep first things first.”
Puritan and Quaker spiritualities have long influenced Christian proponents and activists of a simpler lifestyle (Bittinger, 1978, Bush, 1999, and Fager, 1971). The Christian ethicist James A. Nash (1995:140-144), deeply inspired by Puritan and Quaker thought, argues that in order to bring a contemporary revival and reformation to contemporary Christian witness, that one needs to not only bring back the Puritan value of frugality, but also that frugality must be seen as a “subversive virtue”. There is a strong counter-cultural tone inherent to Nash’s language and proposals. Nash (1995:140-144) offers four characteristics of this revitalized virtue as it could operate within a spiritual counter-movement:
- Frugality rejects the popular assumption that humans are insatiable creatures, ceaselessly acquisitive for economic gains and goods and egoistically committed to pleasure maximization.
- Frugality resists the temptations of consumer promotionalism – particularly the ubiquitous advertising that pressures us through sophisticated techniques to want more, bigger, better, faster, newer, more attractive, or “state of the art.”
- Frugality struggles against the various psychological and sociological dynamics, beyond promotionalism, that stimulates overconsumption.
- Ethically conscious frugality rejects the prevailing ideology of indiscriminate, material economic growth.
The transformative, witness-facilitating, counter-cultural values of frugality and simplicity have started to make something of a comeback in larger Christianity. At the International Consultation on Simple Lifestyle, sponsored by the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization’s Theology and Education Group (held at Hoddesdon, England, March 17-21, 1980) a statement was produced and endorsed, entitled, “An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle”, which created a kind of Christian manifesto for downshifting. Amongst the many statements concerning the need and practice of simplicity, the following commitments regarding personal witness were expressed (Stott and Sider, 1980): “Our Christian obedience demands a simple lifestyle, irrespective of the needs of others….While some of us have been called to live among the poor, and others to open our homes to the needy, all of us are determined to develop a simpler lifestyle. We intend to reexamine our income and expenditure, in order to manage on less and give more away….Yet we resolve to renounce waste and oppose extravagance in personal living, clothing, and housing, travel and church buildings. We also accept the distinction between necessities and luxuries, creative hobbies and empty status symbols, modesty and vanity, occasional celebrations and normal routine, and between the service of God and slavery to fashion.”
The Puritan and Quaker expressions of simplicity and frugality have recently surfaced in unexpected blends with other Christian traditions. Olson (2005) reports that large communities blending Puritan simplicity and Pentecostal fervor are surfacing in rural Texas, joining their voices with those who offer “an alternative to the American Dream, a competing vision of the future - one that promises fullness of being in solidarity” (Nash 1995:159).
Downshifting in Puritan and Quaker spiritualities is integral to their missiological praxis. The Puritan and Quaker calls to simple living through the practice of the disciplines of frugality are counter-cultural calls to authentic Christian witness and sincere efforts to model the anti-materialism truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world steeped in an ideology of “more, better and faster”.
"Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD ' or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”
(Proverbs 30:7-9, NIV)
Bittinger, E.F. (1978). The simple life: a chapter in the evolution of a doctrine. Brethren Life and Thought 23.2, 104-114.
Bush, T. (1999). Plain Living: The Search for Simplicity. Christian Century 116:30, 676-681.
Callen, B.L. (2001). Authentic Spirituality. Rand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Fager, C. (1971). Experimenting with a simpler life style. Christian Century 88.1, 9-13.
Nash, J.A. (1995). Toward the revival and reform of the subversive virtue. Annual of the Society of Christian Ethics 15.1, 137-160.
Smith, R.L. (1998). A Quaker Book of Wisdom. London: Orion.
Stott, J.R.W. and Sider, R.J. (1980). An Evangelical Commitment to Simple Lifestyle. Occasional Bulletin of Missionary Research 4.4, 177-179.
Weber, M. (1958). The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I am happy to announce that we have accepted two more papers for the Biblical Perspectives in Leadership Research Roundtable (May 16-17, 2008). Both papers are from Louis Morgan, a phenomenal professor from Lee University and a current Ph.D. student in Organizational Leadership at Regent University (I am deeply fortunate to be the chair for his dissertation work). The titles of Louis' papers are:
- "Beyond Serving Others: Continual Self-Sacrifice as Normative Christianity.”
- “The Admonitions of St. Francis: Implications for Servant and Transformational Leaders.”
For more information on the roundtable see: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/conferences/gle/home.shtml
Also check out Louis' blog: http://morganonmission.blogspot.com/
This project has revealed a world of activity, energy, and entrepreneurship previously unknown to this otherwise well-informed South African think-tank. Flying under the radar screens of politicians, intellectuals, academics, and journalists are a large number of institutions and individuals that are actively concerned about and working on questions of values and personal behaviour. These concerns include family life, personal responsibility, unemployment, skills creation, and a range of other national concerns.
This report describes CDE’s project, places it in context, outlines its findings, and suggests ways in which policy debates in South Africa might take account of the phenomenal rise of Pentecostal Christian churches."
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Friday, April 04, 2008
1. Banks, Bonnie: "Jesus’ Method of Inclusion in Leadership: A Model for Innovation and Creativity in the Early Church."
2. Banks, Bonnie: "Was Moses Wrong? Ethical Dimensions in Leadership."
3. Bekker, Corné: "“On This Rock: Charismatic Mediators and Weber’s Theory of Religious Leadership in Matthew 16:13-20.”
4. Jenks, Deborah: "Transformation: An Examination of Jesus’ Creative Use of the Matthew 13 Parables and Theory U."
5. Petties, Vivian: "A Biblical Perspective on Women in Leadership: A Fresh Look at I Timothy 2:8-15."
6. Rittle, Dennis: "Managing the Conflict from Within: A Spiritual Model."
7. Self, Catherine: "Incarnational Leadership as Reflected in St. Clare’s Third Letter to Agnes: A Sensory-Aesthetic Study."
8. Self, Catherine: "The Leadership of Jesus: A Literature Review and Research Proposal."
9. Spencer, Jan: "Peter: A Phenomenology of Leadership."
10. Upsher-Myles, Chantel: "Exploring Paul’s Global Leadership Strategy Through 1 Corinthians 9:19-23."
11. Upsher-Myles, Chantel: "Organizational Leadership Lessons Based on the Pauline Epistles."
12. West, Bud: "Implications for Leadership in the Evaluation of Scripture: An Ideological Review of Matthew 8:5-13."
13. Wright, David: "The Leadership of Jesus in the Succession Process of the Disciples: A Dual Focus of Servanthood in Small Groups.”
I will update the program on here as any changes occur. For more information in the roundtable see: http://www.regent.edu/acad/global/conferences/gle/home.shtml
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
Let nothing trouble you.
Let nothing scare you.
All is fleeting.
God alone is unchanging.
Who possesses God
God alone suffices.
From The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila Volume Three translated by Kieran Kavanaugh and Otilio Rodriquez (c) 1985 by Washington Province of Discalced Carmelites ICS Publications 2131 Lincoln Road, N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002 U.S.A.