God will never direct us to be prideful, arrogant and unforgiving, immoral or slothful or full of fear. We step into these things because we are insensitive to the leadership of the Spirit within us. –Charles Stanley

Greetings Gentle Reader.  Today I invite you to briefly explore with me Greenleaf’s concept of Spirit.  Today I will offer you Greenleaf’s words to reflect upon and next time I will offer you some of what has emerged for me as I reflect upon his words.  I invite you to consider what emerges from within you as you reflect upon Greenleaf’s words.

SPIRIT. Greenleaf writes: “I take the first listed (in the dictionary I consulted) in defining spirit: That which is traditionally believed to be the vital principle or animating force within living beings.  But that definition does not help establish spirituality as leadership unless one adds a value dimension to it.  I would prefer to say that Spirit is the animating force that disposes one to be a servant to others. The test is that those being served grow as persons; while being served they become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants.  And what is the effect on the least privileged in society?  Will she or he benefit, or, at least, be not further deprived?  No one will knowingly be hurt by the action, directly or indirectly.

I would not accept the monk in his cell or the theologian in his study as spiritual unless the fruit of their effort is such that it finds its way to nourish the servant motive in those who do the work of the world.  This, it seems to me, is one of the major reasons why that mediating institution, the church, is so important: to help the fruits of contemplation and theological reflection become an animating force that sustains legions of persons as servants as they wield their influence (on those they serve).  I see churches as (potentially) formative institutions that nurture spirituality in those they reach and, in so doing, nurture themselves so as to sustain themselves as models that encourage other institutions to be optimally serving to (and therefore caring for) all persons whose lives they influence.  The two roles, nurture of spirituality in individuals AND model for others as a serving institution, are closely linked.  In my view, any institution that carries these two roles effectively is a church – regardless of its theological position. 

Be still and cool in thine own spirit. –George Fox

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