The Lift Project: Leading for Transformation: Operating in a Spiritual Reality

“Where do you think the power to get work done comes from?” is one of the powerful questions in week 5 of the Lift ProjectLeading for Transformation class. The answer in many ways seems obvious to Christ followers, such power comes from God. But with that vital affirmation, how is such an answer applied in ministry life together?

This week’s class: Operating in a Spiritual Reality featured a 45 minute interview with Gary Haugen of the International Justice Mission, an article by Mike Bonen, and application exercise to do with one’s leadership team. The result of these 3 activities was a greater appreciation of prayer and the spiritual dynamic that God brings to work in leadership, and how that influences and yes, transforms one’s leadership.

Video: Mindy Caliguire interviews Gary Haugen

The most powerful quote for me came at the beginning of the interview, when Gary Haugen said, “We experience God most powerfully when we need Him most desperately.”

As Gary pointed out, if my ministry work is based on my power, it’s not going to amount to much. Even at my best, there are limits to what I can do alone. But when we need God in order to do this, in his case, the God of justice to show up. There is a sense of desperation, a desire for God to act powerfully, a reliance on who God is and what God can do. Henry Blackaby calls this experiencing God, Gary uses the word desperate for God. Desperate not in the sense of hopelessness, but desperate in the sense of total reliance, and seeking to follow where God lead.

Gary shared the story of how IJM has incorporated prayer into their ministry life. He had worked in ministries that had incorporated prayer and those that had not. Realizing the challenges for justice in the world, Gary knew IJM needed to rely on God’s power to bring God’s justice and mercy to unjust situations.

The result is those who work with IJM are invited to a life of prayer that seeks God with 2 specific invitation that go beyond their prayer life outside of work.

Invitation 1: 30 Minutes of Stillness

IJM doors open at 9 a.m. for business. Staff are invited to arrive at 8:30 a.m. to spend time quiet with God. No e-mails, no catching up on work. Stillness before God  asking, “God, what do you want me do in Your job to save the world?”

On Tuesdays this invitation is for small groups to gather, share and seek God’s direction.

Invitation 2: Prayer Time Together

At 11 a.m. the office gathers together for 30 minutes of prayer. They pray about their lives. They pray about the challenges of their work. They prove for God’s guidance and God’s power. They pray “desperate” for God to act, knowing the challenges they face are beyond the best of their abilities but right in God’s sweet spot. They pray and give thanks for the work God is doing.

There are other times of prayer IJM utilizes throughout the year with quarterly all day prayer times and a weekend a year for their prayer partners to gather and prayer. Each year they pick a spiritual grace to focus their prayer time. The result is God shows up.

Article: Good to Great to Godly by Mike Bonem

Bonem looks a this question: What does it mean to be an effective, biblical leader in a local congregation?

The tools for such effective leadership are prayer (notice a theme here?), time, and even some business thinking that draws on God’s practical wisdom (see Jesus “counting the cost” in Luke 14, and Jethro’s organizational ministry advice to Moses in Exodus).

I liked that Bonem advocated the best of spiritual practices and business practices in leadership. He recognizes both can be a gift from God, and both need to rely on God and follow His will.

So in today’s world how do you find yourself operating in a spiritual reality? What spiritual habits are shaping your leadership practices?


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