Item description for Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton & Leighton Ford...
Overview Barton follows the life of Moses, looking at how his experiences of solitude before God gave him the vision that shaped his ministry and leadership. This book provides contemporary leaders with a picture of how solitude sustains the people they are leading.
Publishers Description "I'm tired of helping others enjoy God." "I just want to enjoy God for myself." With this painful admission, Ruth Haley Barton invites us to an honest exploration of what happens when spiritual leaders lose track of their souls. Weaving together contemporary illustrations with penetrating insight from the life of Moses, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership explores topics such as responding to the dynamics of calling facing the loneliness of leadership leading from your authentic self cultivating spiritual community reenvisioning the promised land discerning God's will together Each chapter includes a spiritual practice to ensure your soul gets the nourishment it needs. Forging and maintaining a life-giving connection with God is the best choice you can make for yourselfand for those you lead.
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More About Ruth Haley Barton & Leighton Ford
Ruth Haley Barton is founding president of The Transforming Center, www.thetransformingcenter.org, a ministry dedicated to caring for the souls of pastors and Christian leaders. A teacher, spiritual director, and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, and Longing for More.
Ruth Haley Barton currently resides in the state of Illinois. Ruth Haley Barton was born in 1960.
Ruth Haley Barton has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Strengthening The Soul Of Your Leadership?
Soul Whackers Dec 22, 2009
The sidebars and the prayers in this book are soul whackers. Like Henri Nouwen's elbow-to-the-gut: "The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there."
Sometimes you're fortunate enough to chew through a book with soul-probing insights and illuminating "Ah ha!" moments. Then there are times when the content is not so soul-shattering, but the writing is poetic and almost symphonic. Amazingly, this 221-page gem is both. It whacked my soul. It raised my sights. I appreciate my God and Savior more today than I did last week.
Bill Hybels often preaches, "Speed of the leader, speed of the team." Perhaps you've had those times like this author, Ruth Haley Barton, who sighed, "I'm tired of helping others enjoy God; I just want to enjoy God for myself." If your leadership life needs not just a boost, but a divine encounter with our Holy God, read this book. Slowly.
"Strengthening the soul of your leadership is an invitation to enter more deeply into the process of spiritual transformation and to choose to lead from that place," writes Barton. "It is an opportunity to forge a connection between our souls and our leadership rather than experiencing them as separate arenas of our lives."
She rightly observes, "The market is glutted with books on leadership, and many contain contradictory messages." She takes leaders down a very slow path of spiritual leadership--focusing on sustenance for their own souls. "Then, rather than offering the cold stone of past devotionals, regurgitated apologetics or someone else's musings about the spiritual life [or might I add the latest email devotional], we will have bread to offer from the oven of our intimacy with God."
Using the story of Moses--with fresh insights--Barton concludes each chapter with a "Practice" suggestion and serves up often remarkable prayers from saints past and present.
While I read every book I review, I typically read fast and slow down only to underline good stuff. Trust me--you can't read this rapidly. A chapter-a-day was about my limit. The soul whacks are unnerving, refreshing, penetrating and deep. For me, it would have been sinful to rush through this treasure. Don Parrott, president of The Finishers Project, encouraged me to read this book (it was on my "Read Soon" shelf), yet with a warning. "After you read it, you'll need to get away for some solitude to deal with it." I agree.
Leighton Ford's foreword pulls you into the richness of the topics like "When Leaders Lose Their Souls," "The Practice of Paying Attention," "Guiding Others on the Spiritual Journey," "Living Within Limits," "Spiritual Rhythms in the Life of the Leader," and thoughts on the loneliness of leadership, isolation and finding God's will together. It's real stuff--because Barton is a nonprofit ministry leader herself. She gets it. You, or someone close to you, will cherish this book.
Needed Aspect of Spiritual Leadership Nov 22, 2009
"Strengthening the soul of our leadership is an invitation that begins, continues and ends with seeking God in the crucible of ministry. It is an invitation to stay connected with our own soul - that very private place where God's Spirit and my spirit dwell together in union - and to lead from that place" (210). Barton acknowledges that spiritual leadership is similar to any other kind of leadership in that it is susceptible to the failings of burnout and the weakness of human nature. Without the proper care for themselves and their relationships with Christ, pastoral and ministry leaders can fail in their task of being spiritual leaders. Instead of leading spiritually, they may lead from their own strengths, weaknesses, understanding, wisdom, and draw from their own resources. This will result in tragedy in their lives and in the lives of those who follow them as spiritual leaders.
Barton calls spiritual leaders to engage in a process of spiritual discipline that will allow them to reconnect with the divine presence in their lives and then be able to lead from that connection, with benefits for themselves and those they lead. Using the story of Moses, Barton sketches a process of encountering God through the practice of certain spiritual disciplines, such as solitude, silence, awareness of God's activity, Sabbath rest, and intercessory prayer. Along the way Barton addresses topics such as understanding one's calling, understanding one's own spiritual journey so as to help others on theirs, building healthy ministry teams of interdependent people, and how those teams can exercise the gift of discernment so they can do God's will together.
In Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Ruth Haley Barton uncovers a deep need within ministerial leadership, one that can often go unspoken: the very lack of spirituality among those who are entrusted by congregations to be spiritual leaders. Theological Education has emphasized the importance of seminarians learning Biblical languages, content and backgrounds, as well as hermeneutics, church history, systematic theologies, and the basics of pastoral care. Often left out of the curriculum entirely is spiritual formation. It is as if seminaries assume this will take place in the life of the seminarian on its own or in the context of local church involvement and therefore should not be attended to in the context of academic pursuits. As a result it is possible for a ministerial leader to be equipped with a world-class theological education but still not have the capacity to understand and interpret his or her own spiritual journey, and therefore have no clue how to lead others on theirs. The ramifications of this could include burnout in the life of the minister and spiritual drift or drought in the congregation in which that minister serves.
Barton outlines a process to help spiritual leaders renew or refresh their own souls, for their own benefit and the benefit of those they lead. Her suggestions provide an excellent starting place to engage in the practice of spiritual disciplines. Pastors, ministry leaders, and others can benefit immediately from reading the chapters and working through the suggested exercises. While Barton does provide an excellent starting point, in essence that is all she accomplishes - an argument for ministry leaders to pay attention to this crucial area in their lives and a way to begin strengthening the soul of their leadership. It is possible that Barton's other books will provide further direction for pursuing spiritual disciplines. Another good resource for spiritual leaders to turn to for further growth in this area would be Richard Foster's classic work Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (San Francisco, CA: Harper San Francisco, 1998).
Beyond the issue of spiritual formation and discipline, Barton touches on several topics of interest to ministerial leaders, including an understanding of calling and issues surrounding leading ministry teams. One area of note is the chapter on discernment. Barton writes, "At the heart of spiritual leadership and spiritual journeying is discernment - the capacity to recognize and respond to the presence and the activity of God both personally and in community" (192-93). Ministerial leaders are taught issues related to church polity and governance and how to lead business meetings following Robert's Rules of Order. In many cases, churches and ministry teams making important decisions will claim that Christ is the head and therefore their leader, but then will engage in an orderly process of discussions and votes where the majority rules. But how can they know if Christ is leading or simply the majority? Barton argues for spiritual leaders to be fluent in the art of spiritual discernment and how to lead groups of God's people to know and follow God's leading. She also outlines a possible process for leading a group to discern the will of the Lord when making decisions. Barton's suggestions may be provocative and humbling for leaders who have not given attention to spiritual discernment.
Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is well written, easy to read, with penetrating insights not only on the life of Moses but also on the implications of the biblical record for contemporary spiritual leadership. Barton's personal examples from her own spiritual journey are relevant and encouraging. The book is a refreshing addition to the many voices on spiritual or ministerial leadership.
An amazing book Oct 17, 2009
I've become a bit of a Ruth Haley Barton junkie on "silence" issues. While this book is more about leadership qualities and life, it is a riveting look at who you are and where you are going with your leadership skills. This book wow-ed me all the way through. Very inspirational, very thought provoking. She uses the life of Moses to show you about leadership qualities and it is a downright profound journey that Moses walked. She showed me aspects of Moses' life that I'd never thought about before. How does my life compare to Moses? Well, therein lies the rub...I have a way to go in learning how to be a selfless leader of God. This is a great book and I highly recommend it to your leadership group.
'Silence' with God is talked about some here, obviously from the aspect of spending time with our Savior in order to find out who He made you to be as a leader and what He's asking you to do in this position. Again, the comparisons to Moses' life are profound as you realize that Moses spent 40 years on the back side of nowhere figuring out who God made him to be. It was only then that Moses was able to return to his people and take on the task that God had hoped Moses would consent to all along. That's exactly where the challenge comes in...who am I and what hopes does Jesus have for me? In silence I will search Him out and in silence I will find out. That's my challenge and my future hope. I'm finally in a place in my walk where I actually WANT to find out who God made me to be and be willing to lay down all my preconceived notions about what "I" want to do.
This is an important book for you personally as well as for those seeking direction in their leadership journey.
Excellent Read for Spiritual Leaders Aug 1, 2009
Ruth Haley Barton has produced an excellent work for anyone who works as a leader in the church be they clergy or lay. Using the story of Moses she invites leaders to do a check-up of how they're doing in their leadership and how they can improve. She covers many topics including the importance of spiritual disciplines and recognition of personal limits and boundaries, which are all essential for spiritual leaders.
Her conversational and friendly writing style makes this book easy to read, and feels like a conversation with one's own spiritual director. I recommend this book for any spiritual leader who is looking to refine his or her leadership skills and "find God in the crucible of ministry"
Don't judge a book by its cover... Jul 17, 2009
I was a little bit skeptical when I first heard the name of this book and saw the cover...but this book is another great example of why NOT to judge a book by its cover. I'm just a few chapters from being done and I am continually impressed by the depth of insight and the practical take away.