Monday, December 01, 2008

Reflective Leadership

I read a wonderful article on the discipline of reflection and spiritual leadership this morning by Leonard Doohan in the 2007 edition of the International Journal of Servant-Leadership. Doohan proposes that the emerging, post-industrial, values-based models and theories of leadership are no longer based on knowledge, competence or even experience, but rather on critical reflection, imagination, and an openness to "the unknown, the unexpected, and unexplored." This is where the ancient Biblical devotional discipline of reflection offers a sound base for the reflective attention to that which is ultimately real. Who better than Thomas Merton to shape our understanding of how all of this works:

"Puritas cordis [purity of heart] means much more than moral or ascetic perfection. It is the end of a long process of spiritual transformation in which the soul, perfect in charity, detached from all created things, free from the movements of inordinate passion, is able to live absorbed in God, and is penetrated from time to time with vivid intuitions of His action, intuitions which plumb the depths of the divine mysteries, which "grasp" God in a secret and intimate experience not only of Who He is, but of what He is doing in the world. The [person] who is pure in heart not only knows God, the Absolute Being, pure Act, but knows Him as the Father of Lights, the Father of Mercies, Who has so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son for its Redemption. Such a [person] knows Him not merely by faith, not by theological speculation, but by intimate and incommunicable experience."

Thomas Merton. Bread in the Wilderness (New York: New Dimensions, 1953): 20-21
Leonard Doohan. Spiritual Leadership and Reflection. (International Journal of Servant-Leadership,2007) 285.