'You can't teach what you don't know'
I have returned from my annual retreat with sore legs and a full and grateful heart. We (4 Vicars, 2 Doctors and the CEO of a Charity) climbed Snowdon (and one other peak) and what was it that impacted us all equally from our visit to Wales? The midges! We are now set on returning to the bug free Lakes next year.
This article I read today called 'We need to talk about priests' [Essential reading] impacted me. I am so grateful for friendship and to have a few folk who are concerned about my heart and soul and their well-being. It's so easy to get over-burdened, over-worked and lose perspective as a priest (I am one) and, to be honest, this is true for anyone committed to following Jesus faithfully and leading others to do the same.
As ever, I am the one who collects together the bits and bobs that have encouraged "The Seven" over the last year and I also add in the wisdom I gleaned from our mutual interrogation of each others souls.
Questions: The friendship and accountability journey we go on each year is oriented around listening to each others stories and struggles (1-2 hours in 'the hot seat') and then exposing ourselves to any and every question. We have no 'no-go' areas.
One of our number often asks us "How do you feel?". Walter Wright (Head of Regent Vancouver and author of Relational Leadership) has two questions: How are you doing with your vision? Is God pleased?
Another question we explored together is "How do you know if counselling has worked?"
These three questions are quite penetrating:
Do you still love God?
Do you still love your wife?
Do you still love your church?
Other questions "Do you see prayer as spending time with Jesus?" and "Does your prayer connect with your emotional needs?" (some of us didn't have a clue what that meant which perhaps says something about us or our prayer lives)
Another question on our hearts which someone asked is "How do people change?" which leads on to the more specific "How do I change?"
The most helpful leadership question was "Who is going to lead on this?" as a means of encouraging corporate responsibility rather than the just taking more on.
Here are a few more Spiritual MOT questions from James Emery White.
Drivers: A few of our number have done Arrow Leadership. Early on we discussed what are known as 'drivers' which are the voices from our childhood that our parents spoke over us. We are probably speaking them over our children. We all apparently have a dominant voice from one of the following and it's worth pondering which one is yours. This was all new to me but is very interesting.
1. Be strong
2. Try harder
3. Hurry up
4. Be perfect
5. Please others
We added in one more
6. Stop complaining
Books: I couldn't stop banging on about 'The Heart of a Servant Leader'. I am not convinced my pals caught my enthusiasm for it.
Other books read in the year were Metaxa's Bonnhoeffer, Richard Rohr's 'Falling upwards: a spirituality for the two halves of life' and 'Breathing under water' (a Christian interpretation of the 12 Steps). Sam Wells 'Praying for England' and 'God's companions: Re-imagining Christian Ethics' Madame Guyon's 'Experiencing the depths of Jesus Christ'. 'The Choice: Serving heaven or serving hell' by Andy Robinson (one thought this brillaint and another not so you take's your chance). The Institutes (which one of our number has be discussing with his Curate). The Advantage by Lencioni and Leading from the Second Chair which is, by all accounts, packed with wisdom and good stuff. Tim Chester Unreached. Kenneth Bailey's two books on Jesus and Paul and 'invaluable'. Finally, Galatians for you by Keller.
A magazine some have been reading is Mission Catalyst which is, so I learn, for ..'thinking Christians' which is scary :). You might want to subscribe.
We spent some time discussing the Psalms and one of our number wanted recommendations on books on them. Off the top of my head:
-Answering God: Using the Psalms as tools for prayer
-Kidner 1 and 2
-Tremper Longman How to read the Psalms
Films, Apps and TV: It has been a poor year for MoM viewing as most of us have had less time. The Fall, Parks and Recreation , Broadchurch (apparently I should be horrified that I had not even heard of this. "Where have I been?" said some of our number). The best film of the year was considered as Zero Dark Thirty.
The only app was Flipboard.
Statistic of the Year:
"In Afganistan, 84% of children under the age of 14 have been subjected to some form of sexual or physical abuse".
That's one to pray over and act upon.