Spiritual Formation and Leading Change

Spiritual formation: Growing up and waking up. Words ordinarily located in the lexicon of faith.  Global community: the people and nations of the world, inextricably tied together economically, socially, and politically.  Triple Bottom Line, an accounting framework, that evaluates performance through three measures: social, environment, and financial.   Words ordinarily located in the lexicon of business.  Taken together, these words represent the core leadership challenge of the 21st century.  How are we going to intentionally form learning communities to grow up and wake up for the flourishing of the global community, a triple bottom line of people, planet, and purpose?  This calls for the development of a new kind of equipping that nurtures spiritual maturity in leaders, while also addressing 21st century leadership challenges.

Historically, care of soul has been relegated to the faith community, while preparation of the leader has been the responsibility of the business community.  Yet, the challenges faced in each discipline press for the integration of the two.  Our human tendency to create dualities—body and soul, local and global, sacred and secular—has resulted in bifurcated lives.  The wholeness of the individual cannot be known apart from the wholeness of the community, demanding that prosperity be measured not only by bottom line profit, but also people and planet.  

The collapse of the global markets and increasing impact of global warming speaks of the radical uncertainty felt by people across the planet.  And, now the pandemic, followed by the civil unrest loosed by George Floyd’s death.  Our present context presses for intention with regard to the spiritual formation of the leader.  Leading with integrity in the 21st century demands connecting Soul with Source.

The Time is Now!

Historian William McLoughlin anticipated these emergent circumstances, predicting that they would prepare the soil for a “Great Awakening,” which will eventually result in a new global ethic of economy, environment, and equality.   He described awakening as the means by which “a people or a nation reshapes its identity, transforms patterns of thought into action, and sustains a healthy relationship with environmental and social change.”  In his study of religious and cultural change, McLoughlin identified five distinct, yet interwoven, stages:

  1. Crisis of legitimacy where old norms conflict with emergent values;
  2. Cultural distortion during which individuals come to understand that the problems are not personal but systemic;
  3. New vision emerging out of new articulations of faith and practice;
  4. New path during which the community experiments, creates and innovates; 
  5. Transformation as the tipping point is reached and the majority comes to embrace the new path.

While the last stage results in transformation, the first two stages, by necessity, involve breakdown and decline. The painful reality is that awakenings emerge out of “periods of cultural distortion and grave personal stress, when we lose faith in the legitimacy of our norms, the viability of our institutions, and the authority of our leaders in church and state.”   Herein, lies both challenge and opportunity.

Healthy systems are built backwards, beginning with desired outcome in mind. Such is the paradox of transformation.  Spiritual formation demands fresh articulations of faith and practice, a new path by which to experiment, create and innovate for the care of people and planet.  The spiritual growth of leaders for the flourishing of the global community involves developing a value curve that diverges from institutional structures and crosses market boundaries to integrate spiritual humility with servant leadership.  Wholeness of community requires wholeness of person, beyond the silos that have resulted in disconnect and dualism. 

Why This Matters

For us, as individuals, it is important that we understand:

    •       75 percent of adults in the workforce desire to live a more meaningful life.

    •       Only 26 percent of millennials say they feel like their current work is helping to create a better world.

    •       Only 31 percent of millennials are working within a career to which they feel called.

    •       36 percent of an adult’s life is spent “at work” in their careers, more than any other area in their lives, including family.

For the world, it is essential that we move beyond the dualities that result in bifurcated lives, that together we might contribute toward meeting human need for the Shalom of our communities.  At present, 

    •       854 million people do not have enough food to sustain them;

    •       25,000 people will die today from malnutrition;

    •       780 million people lack access to clean water;

    •       6,000 people will die today from waterborne illnesses;

    •       640 million people do not have adequate shelter;

    •       270 million do not have access to health services.

Growing up and waking up in spiritual maturity is the key to leading deep change.  We cannot give what we have not received.  It is only as we are transformed degree by degree that we can we bear transformation into the lives of others.

Join Mary Kay DuChene and me in a Wisdom Circle to begin in October.  For more: http://PoetsProphets.net.  Also, check out, upcoming online journeys and webinars: http://PoetsProphets.net.  For those working with water concerns, join us for a conversation with Aaron Wood on 8/30 at 1pm, EST, moderated by Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith of the Pivot Projects: https://www.linkedin.com/events/6699750790065741824/.  

#PoetsProphets  #ChangeLeadership. #FormationalJourney #PivotProjects

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