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A Rare Leadership Assessment Outline

By author Tonya Blessing

I am currently reading the book Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder.

Because I am still praying and processing the information contained in Rare Leadership, I am hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend all the material. There is, however, a portion of the book that includes maturity assessments.  I was reading one of the assessments and feeling proud that I had the items discussed in check.  Then, I realized that the assessment was for child-level maturity.

Tonya sells pillows and gift cards with Appalachian folk sayings on them.

The older I get, which also means the longer I am in ministry, I realize more and more that ministries are only as healthy as the people who lead them. It is a trickle-down effect. As a leader, if I am unhealthy emotionally, my teammates and those I lead and teach will be affected by my lack of emotional maturity.

Proverbs tells us that spiritual zealousness without maturity can be dangerous.

According to Warner and Wilder, there are four qualities of emotional maturity that can be used as a guide to assess our own maturity and also the maturity of others with whom we engage.

Remaining Relational

  • Do you avoid conflict?
  • Do you avoid people who upset you?
  • Do you use negative emotions (shame, anger, fear, disgust) to control people and outcomes?
  • When conflict arises do you make people choose sides or do you reach out to those who oppose you?

Acting Like Yourself

  • Do people walk on eggshells around you?
  • Do they feel safe disagreeing with you?
  • Do people share honest opinions with you?
  • Do people avoid bringing their problems to you?
  • Can people expect a tender response to their weaknesses?
  • Do you reveal your own weaknesses and ask for help?
  • Do you fear people discovering what you are really thinking and feeling?
  • Do you present yourself stronger than you really feel?

Returning to Joy

  • Do you know how to quiet yourself when you’re upset?
  • Do you isolate yourself during upsetting emotions?
  • Do you reestablish connections quickly after upset emotions?
  • Do you help others return to authentic relationships quickly from their unpleasant emotions?
  • Do you see moments of upset as opportunities to strengthen relationships?
  • Do you stay annoyed with people who trigger your emotions?
  • Do you ignore people when their emotions are not in sync with yours?
  • Do you help your group maintain an identity that is resilient in the face of difficulty?

Enduring Hardship Well

  • How much stress does it take for you to avoid relationships?
  • How much pressure can you handle before you snap and turn into a different person?
  • How much can you handle before you disappear and turn to your cravings for comfort?

I know that I am sharing a great deal of information.  Some of the questions included above could have pages of discussion written just about one item.  My goal in sharing about emotional maturity is not to cover things completely but to build a platform for us to evaluate on a basic level, and then pray and discuss with others how we can grow emotionally.

Here’s to emotional health and well-being!

Tonya is the co-founder/director of Strong Cross Ministries (SCM). She and her husband currently reside in South Africa, where they assist local leaders in helping their communities. She is also an author of two novels and the co-author of a resource book for women in Christian leadership. Tonya is a national and international speaker. She is especially passionate about helping women grow in Christ.

What is Your Next Must-Read?

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They Won’t Last Forever

By author Kathy Joy

Even in the moment of utmost magnificence, the realities of life cast a cloud over it all. Have you noticed?

This is truth, the hereandnow is what we hold in our hand this moment. We savor the taste, the scent, the love, the sight, the feel.

The Japanese term “mono no aware” is often applied to flowers.

物の哀れ, もののあはれ

It means “they. . .won’t last forever.” For English speakers, it’s tough to translate, but it’s a relatable idea. ‘Mono no aware’ describes beautiful but perishable things. Mono no aware becomes a human anthem, our song of recognition: Every moment counts.

I choose to live in this moment, right here.

The exquisite beauty of the Japanese language describes “an empathy toward things”, evoking both a transient gentle sadness, a wistfulness at their passing, as well as an underlying poignancy about this state being, the reality of life’s ending in decline and death.

A page from Singing Spring, by Kathy Joy

We’ve traveled a lot of road together, and this is so real, so true, it’s difficult to find the language to describe it.

Even as gardens, yours and mine, are carefully tended and watched over, the beauty of nature is fleeting. All nature. We, too, come with expiration dates. We are colorful and thriving and being woven into glorious patterns of symmetry and contrast.

We are carefully tended and watched over, many of us blooming far into the future.

Embellishing options, we keep planting new life, new blossoms in new seasons. When we face the ending of one season, we water new seeds, and graft or adopt or improvise in the faith of growing new sprouts for another season.

In drought, we include the defense of closing ranks with friends and allies. We help each other.  We punt for each other. We dress each other in the coverings of costumes and smile at the future. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness are the friendship fertilizers. Doing good, being faithful, being gentle, and having self-control in the face of temptation. These are the ribbons of bouquets.

It’s an aspect of being created in the image of the Creator, that we thrive best in community, rubbing shoulders. Out of one garden, another is already blooming.  That bloom of friendship.  Bridges through passages become the colorful things that matter. Relationships can trump protocol, can trump rules, can trump law. Friendships can trump financial resources and other competition. Grow the garden of love, and you’ve grown the blossoms of a heavenly kingdom.

I choose to travel this road with other transients. It’s a bumpy road, filled with detours but its ours and we’re on it together. The scenery right now is breathtaking.

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Breaking Bud – A Roguish Spring

KATHY JOY, AUTHOR, EDITOR, MESSIAH COLLEGE ALUMNI

You’re likely familiar with “Breaking Bad”, the TV series about a chemistry teacher desperate to secure his family’s financial future, after his devastating cancer diagnosis. Facing the reality of death does funny things to people.

Find a Singing Spring Gift Book here. A Breath of Joy

Even if you’ve never watched Breaking Bad, apparently most of America has. The series quickly became a national sensation and rendered a new buzzword, “breaking bad” for when someone good suddenly changed character.

If “breaking bad” is slang for “defying expectations” then “breaking bud” is a crisp turnofphrase for “just kidding, the weather has a mind of its own”. Out of the brown and crinkled tan shades of left-over winter, buds are due. The milk of flowers is already rising through pale green rose stems.

Fine, with this springtime tease, we’ll don a warm jacket today, a light sweater tomorrow, carry a pair of boots in the car for just–in–case.

Spring waltzes in sideways, full of bluster and drizzle, followed by little sunny intervals of calm. Throw in a late snow squall for good measure, and you have springtime in Northwest Pennsylvania: Unpredictable, moody, playful, and perplexing. But we always tolerate the irregularities of spring because it holds promises: Birds returning, leaves unfurling, windows are thrown open to let in the breeze.

We’re starting to hear the spring peepers, those tiny chorus frogs that give us loud concerts every night for a fortnight. The early flowers are already pushing through soil, declaring forgiveness for winter’s icy grip. Something shifts in the air. There’s a mix of earthy smells, a giddy kick of anticipation.In spite of all the challenges we’ve endured, there is this one thing: Spring is “breaking bud”.

I had the honor of proofreading the book, BEING CREATIVE, by Laura Bartnick this spring. Her thoughts on creativity simply jibe with my feelings about springtime’s empowerment. I’m declaring new explorations this year. Did you know. . .

God calls all of His creation His servants, because He has a purpose for our existence. He is the Re-namer, and Redeemer, and Re-purposer. When we walk with the LORD, the possibilities are endless. We can search for Him—though He is not far from any of us. Coming closer to our Creator, we can accept His call to be cunning and skillful. We can even become His friend.

“Anything can become the next exploration. Even those creatives who want nothing to do with being a child of God often find their best material in Scripture and in the church. God can use the imagination of anyone to teach us.

“Your own skill is a learned thing. Wisdom takes time. You may not yet understand this when you begin to write about a tragedy causing a family to become displaced, all their treasures to be lost. What you are really going to discover and write about is the greater gift of creativity from loss, the value of new relationships, and community—finding other treasures in hidden places. This story may require much prayer, wrestling with God for the blessing, and many edits to test and strengthen the wings.”

Spring is going forward and gathering steam, hurtling headlong into backyard picnics, flip-flops, beach time and road trips.

There are ten little rules of creativity listed at the end of each chapter in BEING CREATIVE. There is also the suggestion to keep a journal nearby.  I have practiced this invitation of capturing the wonder of my days, of God’s creative invitations to life in my own way. This is where the gift book series, BREATH OF JOY, was budded and flounced. SINGING SPRING announces this season of life burgeoning from death. It celebrates wonder with yellow daffodils, with purple lilacs, and with perfuming pink hyacinths.

Crops are going in this spring, and before we know it there will be rows and rows of sweet corn. That’s what I love about seasons. They simply show up. Regular as a heartbeat, as welcome as the friend you haven’t seen in quite a long time. Springtime is roguish, breaking bud and being mischievous in all the best ways.

I found one of my favorite quotes in chapter four of BEING CREATIVE:

Experience allows us to follow the dots into the unknown. We learn from intersecting paths along the way. We learn to improvise.”

I just love this! I want to lift it out, highlight it, then repeat it for emphasis!

Unconcerned about vaccines, politics or March Madness, the season is a joyful riot of mud puddles and sudden bursts of color, chasing away the landscape’s last edges of grays and browns.

Happy Spring, ya’ll !

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Spiritual Theater – Better Than Magic

By Laura Bartnick from Welcome to the Shivoo

Magic is a popular descriptor these days.  Even Christians use the descriptors “magical” or “alchemy” playing on the idea of transformation or illumination apart from God’s creativity. Creatives can try to employ magic in a spiritual, holistic sense as though it were only a metaphor or allegory, but the practice of magic is not even close to the biblical ideas of imagination, wonder, miracles, transformation, and illumination. Magic removes the Wonderful One from the equation of creation by mimicking the wonder with a sleight of hand. It attempts to transform something or someone by blind equations of lesser powers and chemical substances. Cutting these cords between the wonder and the Giver may feel fanciful and creative, but the end is separation from God. Please know that an Illusion can be a purposeful sleight of hand, but magic is the use of deception to transform, confuse, snare, and kill. Alchemy removes the primary ingredient of God’s own purpose or design.

It was only when Adam and Eve broke confidence with their Creator that the wonder of God’s Spirit separated from them because God is Holy and cannot mingle with sin. The result was dying and death.

In love and goodness, the Lord devised another means of expression through connective blood and tissue in His covenant with us.

Imagine that God’s covenant was depicted in the performance of theatrical rituals and purposeful sacrifices. Did God mean to command that His people were to engage in the theater for purposes of illumination?

Imagine, also, that community laws and festivals allowed those practicing to gain a better understanding of His goodness and love. Imagine that they did not believe these edicts were legalism. How did it work?

Reenacting the Lord’s dramatic events kept His purposes in mind. They helped people look honestly at processing life His way. The codes and laws provided a means to treat others respectfully and compassionately.[i]

And, many of these feasts and played-out dramas were great experiences for the community. For individuals. Yet, because sin began to mar God’s creation, God would implement new theatrics, mighty works and wonders, to rescue people as He’d promised. Things like Moses and Aaron’s feats before Pharaoh, lifting up the walls of the Red Sea, providing enough oil to get His people through an assault, bringing birds and manna to eat, later, feeding the thousands with a loaf of bread and a few fish. Preserving His own. Time and time again. The drama of Queen Esther and Mordecai saving the Jews, Daniel in the lion’s den, Joseph’s technicolor coat, and the dramas of David and Goliath are still favorites in Christian theater.

In God’s creation, He contemplated rescue for any who were deaf, blind, lost, or paralyzed. He even contemplated resuscitating the dead.[ii] Passover and Resurrection are the primary and unique colors of God’s creativity. He saves souls and transforms them.

If you have been taught that winning souls is a fruit of the Spirit, check again.

The nine fruits of the spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22–23 as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Against such things there is no law. Benedictine monks would call these spiritual practices “the conversation of life.”[iii]

So while God is primarily creating, rescuing, resuscitating the dead, we are co-creating, co-rescuing, co-resuscitating the dead. It wouldn’t surprise me to discover as we are working out our own salvation,  that these spiritual fruits will appear in artistic endeavors. Yes, they will appear in writing, and in the stressors of life’s interactions with others, but these characteristics will also win souls.

If you are a creative individual, then practice drawing from the tree of life. Bear good fruit, fruit connected to the Giver, the Source, not disconnected magical fruit.

HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES

RITUAL FIRSTS. What does it mean in priority, to have a first child? We know that in biblical history the first child obtained the first and best, most complete blessing. The first male was dedicated to God because God claimed him.[iv] He was destined to assume the role of family leader, given authority, double inheritance, and special rights.

THE PATTERN: The Law forbade the disinheriting of the firstborn in a family.[v] The first animal to breach the womb was to be sacrificed to God or redeemed by an offering.[vi] When God reached over the first to bless the second child, He was making quite a statement, which made news several times in scripture. Jacob and Esau experienced it.[vii] Jacob later reenacted the experience with Ephraim and Manasseh.[viii] Reuben’s right as the firstborn of Jacob was taken away because of sin.[ix] When God made the earth, giving creative-mimicking powers to the first man and woman, He signified a right, rule, and inheritance over the animals and plants and other created things. Yet, in Colossians 1, Paul uses the word, “preeminent” to express the position of Christ in relationship to all things in heaven and on earth. Jesus, the Second Adam, has all rights to everything. These instances are recorded because of the anomaly: the rule of firsts was broken.

BREAKING THE PATTERN: “The Word,” personally refers to Emmanuel, God with Us. The Son of God came as the incarnation of the Father, taking on baby flesh comprised of honor and glory as beings beheld Him full of grace and truth. Our most specific right, rule, and inheritance is found in Emmanuel. Not only is He LORD, but He is also our dramatic pattern, God’s ideal Son and men are foreordained to be conformed to His image.[x] This Word of flesh creatively clothed Himself in humility, even washing the dirty feet of His followers (see the character arc?).

Christ obeyed His unique purpose to redeem us through a torturous death. He imagined, ordained, and accepted His own destination on the cross for the joy that was set before Him.  Separated from God the Father in death, He was raised again in triumph. Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection from the dead in this drama of life,[xi] and many will follow Him in a twinkling of an eye.[xii]

Which do you think is more important to God?

a) any artistic ingenuity that births a curiosity of mind and pulls at spiritual heartstrings, or

b) the creative ingenuity that designs and manufactures a new tool to use, or

c) clear preaching or teaching to others.

Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright offers us the idea that if a set of actors faithfully follow a director, a script, and the stage direction to act out four scenes of a written play, they could be trusted to faithfully improvise a fifth act.[xiii] The details and director of this story are critical.

What does it mean to have the first fruit crop and to actually give it back to God, to give God the first fruits of your labor?

Imagine a seed germinating underground in the winter and then springing to life with the first buds of summer becoming fruit. Giving our first fruits creates an image of personal absolute reliance in the goodness of the Creator, that He will supply all you need. Additionally, this reliance is a form of giving honor. It is a model of weaving life together with His community of faith. He indicates this tithe is for sharing with the community depending upon His care, and for charity.

If you are a creative person, you require a lot of time to yourself nurturing creative processes: exploring, thinking, drafting, experimenting, journaling, producing, and working through many technicalities to produce something original or special, to improve on someone else’s prototype.

In all this excitement and stress, be sure to take time to just be with the LORD. Enjoy His gifts. His gifts are more than benefits. Enjoy His rewards. His rewards are more than benefits. They are reflections of the Giver’s heart.

Take note. These are personal embraces of God to you. And, through you, these gifts are to be primary nutrition for the community of faith and then also your gifts are for charity to strangers and foreigners to the faith.

The details of God’s law, the written word, and fleshing out the Christ, came much later in His own story and revelation. God must create before any of His other plans take hold, according to His own ordinances.

UTTER DEPENDENCE

The first thing we understand as creatives and makers is that we are utterly dependent on something or Someone higher in power and creativity than we are.  Someone Who is organizing a bigger picture of which we are a part. If we breathe in and breathe out with intention and cognizance, we can suddenly experience this human dependence on a Giver of Life and breath and health.

Adam received the first body with fingers to wield tools to put inspiration into existence, to create things. Without a physical body, how would all this godlike inspiration find a use, an expression, or an outlet? Think about how you express yourself in an abundance of physical acts of your will and of your unconscious behaviors e.g., facial expressions that escape the body with or without words.

There is a myriad of expressions in the Logos to draw from. Winemakers understand that they are completely interactive and dependent upon the weather and soil, and Who creates the nutrients in the soil and orders the rain and wind?

Much of your own creative success lies beneath the surface until it begins to resonate with others. When you are spurred by a catalyst, something new spontaneously combusts from your soul. Comedians find their talent because they discover that others find them funny. It is a gift. So, in the beginning, God’s gifts in and around you provide your raw material. What you pull together and release into the world will make for your tribute to God.

Your creativity, at first, is not often the finest expression. It shows spirit, but may lack gloss, detail, proofreading or testing. The hook, the skill, the expert choice of the right material may be missing. The performance style may need direction, and sometimes your work even lacks the proper context. Some things are invented before their time, and because they are out of pocket, people don’t recognize the significance of what has been created. This is a gift, too.

Leonardo da Vinci created many mechanical tools and systems because people needed them. On the sly, Leonardo’s God-given creativity caused him to experiment with human medicine and cadavers. He was looking into things banned as unorthodox at the time, but which later were proven to be important medical breakthroughs.[xiv]

In her book, Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish, Sue Bender wrote, “I never thought to stop and ask myself, ‘What really matters?’ Instead, I gave everything equal weight. I had no way to select what was important and what was not. Things that were important didn’t get done, and others, quite unimportant, were completed and crossed off the list.”[xv]

Sue was referring to her habits of keeping her house clean, grading papers, and visiting friends, and to her desire to produce art that was special so that she would be thought of as special. “Accumulating choices was a way of not having to make a choice, but I didn’t know it at the time. To eliminate anything was a foreign concept.  I felt deprived if I let go of any choices.”[xvi]

As a creative, do you ever find yourself confused about how to prioritize your interests and activities? Do you feel like a jar of river water all shaken up, unable to be still long enough to let the sediment settle into its layers? Deciphering layers of each character and layers of the story itself takes time.  Meaning takes time.  Time, work, rest, and reflection are cyclical gifts.

Notice, part of the communication cycle is meditation or rest, not of words, but of simply being human and enjoying relationships in spiritual reflection offered as “Sabbath.”  Don’t neglect your God-ordained quiet interludes, but rather to think, receive dreams, and rethink. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for human benefit.

Creating in a personal void is really creating with the raw materials given by the Heavenly Father, both the acid and the sweetness in a life, and the opportunities given by the Great Designer. Like a child is utterly dependent upon his or her parent for the raw materials of life, and for some directives and guidance, so a Creative is dependent on the Creator’s supply and purposes. If He stops everything. That’s it. If He opens an avenue, a journey, and favor in a direction, that is the direction we will most assuredly take and find purpose.

Yahweh commanded his prophet, Hosea, to marry a “wife of whoredom”.[xvii] This Hebrew term indicates illicit sexual behavior.  Moses used the word in Genesis 38:24 to refer to Tamar’s posing as a shrine prostitute in order to entice Judah to do his duty under the law by her since he had refused to give her his son in marriage, as was her God-ordained right of survival. In both cases, these theatrical acts were ordained by God for purposes that took time to unfold and to be understood. Sometimes, images given to creatives to use in our work are means

the Lord uses to teach us as we are mulling them over, implementing them, and offering them to our audience.  These images and tools are gifts entrusted to and for us for our good, and then as we hone and share them, they become gifts to others.

Jesus went to the desert to be alone with His Father God for 40 days.[xviii] Moses ran from Pharaoh into the desert where he stayed for the rest of his life as a nomad.[xix]  Not all who wander are lost.  Jesus became so full of His experience with His Father that when Satan came to tempt Him, Jesus’ retorted, “I have food you know nothing of.”[xx] When Moses left all of the riches, authority, and the attachments of his stepmother and her royal household behind, he found his exquisite wife and became the leader whom God intended for him to become.[xxi]  All this came to being through communion with God. To find meekness through self-examination as Moses did, or strength to face all the temptations of life as Jesus did, consider the solace of the Father’s company alone when you need direction.

BEING CUNNING WITH RAW MATERIALS

Creativity is, in essence, being “cunning.” This word has taken on a sour connotation, as has the word “creative,” but biblically, cunning is only defined in the positive sense. It means being ingenious, gifted with finesse, wise.[xxii] Yet, if you set something newly created before an audience, it might not appear all that good. You might get a stunned look, a jail sentence, or nervous laughter for reward. Being a creative person requires that you continue to focus on the standards of the craft to improve. Standards belong to the Lord. Ideas, lyrics, melodies, and fairy tales are improved with practice and honing, with measures of accountability and with renewed teamwork. New renderings and settings often improve upon the original. Yet, none of this improvement or public applause will exist without embarking, creatively formatting, plotting the vision.

Understand, the Godhead always creates first in the Spirit with His Word. He creates for His own circle of joy! His creation formed and decorated a setting for us to experience belonging.

All good ideas, all good results from hard research, all good inspiration are directly given from the Creator’s hand. Often, He even gives His inspiration and anointing to those who do not recognize Him. Everybody serves God’s purposes. We are all servants. This is why incredible art and the classics in literature exist apart from having been created by a believer in the Triune God.  His boundaries and purposes are not ours.

Still, I would rather be a friend of God, a beloved of the Creator, than a mere servant. Wouldn’t you?

I hope you understand that you, personally, your good, and your work in conjunction with His image are of high priority. He invests a lot of Himself into you on a daily basis. You’re always welcome to the Shivoo! He’s said so many times, in many ways.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”[xxiii]

Rule 1: DEPENDENCE. Breathe in.  Consider your own dependence on the Creator. Let your body become a living sacrifice to God. Imagine offering each part of your body to Him. BREATHE out with His authority.

 

[i] Lev. 1–27.

[ii] Matt. 11:5;.

[iii] “Benedictine-Values,” MaterChristi, last modified 2019, materchristi.edu.au/benedictine-values.

[iv] Exod. 13:2; 22:29–31; 34:19.

[v] Deut. 21:15–17.

[vi] Exod. 34:19.

[vii] Gen. 27:1–29 BSB.­

[viii] Gen. 48:13–22.

[ix] Gen. 35:22; 49:1–4.

[x] Rom. 8:29.

[xi] 1 Cor. 15:20.

[xii] 1 Cor. 15:52.

[xiii] N. T. Wright, “How Can The Bible Be Authoritative?,” Vox Evangelica 21 (1991), p.18.

[xiv] “Science”, Anatomy in Leonardo da Vinci., N.P., https://www.leonardo-da-vinci.ch/science.

[xv] Sue Bender, Plain and Simple: A Woman’s Journey to the Amish, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1991), 89.

[xvi] Bender, 141.

[xvii] Hosea 1:2.

[xviii] Matt. 4:1–11.

[xix] Exod. 2:15–21.

[xx] Matt. 4:1–4.

[xxi] Exod. 2:15–21; 3:1–Deut. 4:5. These passages of Moses’ life tell of how he met and married his wife, and how he became the leader God intended him to be leading Israel

from captivity and later provided Israel with God’s own instruction on how to live.

[xxii] W. L. Walker, “Cunning” In The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, edited by James Orr, N.P.,1915. http://classic.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T2446.

[xxiii] Col. 1:9–10.

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