Are you a mature Leader? {Mary DeMuth on Being a ‘Deeper Leader’}

Are most leaders mature?

“whaa WHAH!”
(That’s the “nope” sound from Sesame Street in case you’re wondering.)

A deeper leader leads from a place of integrity and maturity.

I’m very happy to be partnering with Evangelical Seminary to bring greater awareness and dialogue to the topic of Leadership and Spiritual Formation. Their new (part distance/part in-person cohort learning method) under 2 year graduate studies program prioritizes spiritual maturity in leadership training, and in our culture, it’s sorely needed.

I’m looking into getting a second masters degree. That’s how good this program is.
Are spiritually mature leaders important to you?
If so, there is an excellent opportunity to associate with the leadership resources launching at ES, and participate in promoting and nurturing spiritually formed leaders through a new variety of approaches. First of all you can help spread the word by sharing the information and resources you find at ES, and through their social media outlets. Articles, events, forums, go-to resources, guest writers, and more is coming.
Also, a synchroblog is in the works for the 2nd September (soon!) on the topic. Learn more on the Evangelical Facebook page or their website this week and next. (I will also post updates here.)

You can join in and be a part of something BIG.

If you are a leader and have a tribe or a blog, you can submit articles for consideration for a featured guest post spot at the Deeper Leader blog sponsored by ES. (Use the contact form on the right to express your interest.) This will pair you with some amazing professions in the the field of leadership, spiritual formation (sometimes called discipleship), leadership studies at the graduate level, and help nurture a whole new generation of better equipped leaders.

The first featured guest writer in this new phase is unveiled today! It’s none other than prolific author, the “living uncaged” Mary DeMuth. Read her contribution on leadership here.

Mary DeMuth is Living Uncaged!

Guest post from J.R. Briggs

I’m really happy to have J.R. here today to talk about the patience needed for spiritual growth. As ministers, leaders, teachers, or parents frustration can set in when our efforts seem fruitless. This post will encourage you with needed perspective!

Thanks, J.R. !

The Impatience of Ministry: Waiting for the Vegetables to Grow

by J.R. Briggs

A few years ago my wife did something for the first time that she had wanted to do for quite some time: plant a garden in our backyard. We live in Pennsylvania, one of the most fertile states in the Union. The saying around here is if you can’t get your garden to grow in PA you’ll never get it to grow anywhere.

She bought a few small plants and spent an afternoon delicately placing them into the soil and watering them. Basil, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and mint, among other things. It was a relatively small garden, but enough to find great enjoyment out of growing items we could enjoy. There is nothing better than eating dinner in the summer with items you grew a few hundred feet away.

Our oldest son (who was three at the time) was excited to hear that mommy was planting a garden that afternoon and he wanted to help. He got his boots on and with trowel in hand, helped mommy dig around in the soil and water the plants once they were in the ground.

As they finished the planting process that afternoon, it was time for his afternoon nap. He was disappointed when I called him in and cleaned him up before heading up to his room. When he woke up a few hours later, his first question to my wife was “Are the vegetables ready yet?” With a smile, she explained that they won’t be ready for at least several weeks. Plants just don’t grow that fast.

He was sorely disappointed and confused. I will never forget the look on his face: completely downtrodden. All my wife and I could do was try to keep from him noticing our smiles.

As cute as this story is, I find it a fitting reminder for pastoral work. Its easy to place impossible expectations on people in our churches to grow and produce fruit – and do it immediately.

We become impatient and wonder what’s wrong, why nothing is working, why it seems nobody around us is growing in the same way we read about in the last issue of a ministry magazine or heard about from the stage at the last pastors’ conference we attended. Why are the vegetables not ready yet? Its been a few hours already!

My son provided a good reminder – and a poignant challenge – for me and my approach to ministry. In fact, I’ve told this story dozens of times to other young pastors who are anxious that while they are faithful to do what they are called to do, they wonder why they aren’t seeing tons of fruit yet. And, yes, I’ve had to tell it to myself multiple times, too. True fruit production in the lives of people trying to be like Jesus is a long process, full of dirty and mess, which requires a great amount of patience. As Eugene Peterson wrote, spiritual maturity is a long obedience in the same direction.

The vegetables will come – but not this afternoon. We must do our part: wait, water, pull weeds, tend to the soil. And wait some more. It is dirty work. Fruitful work, but dirty nonetheless. The vegetables will come, but they will not come by this afternoon.

This is God’s work to be done, not ours. We cannot attempt to do the work that does not belong to us.

The vegetables will come, but not this afternoon.

There is no need to be disappointed.


J.R.’s Bio:

J.R. Briggs serves as Cultural Cultivator of The Renew Community a Jesus community for skeptics and dreamers in Lansdale, PA – a suburb of Philadelphia, which he helped start. He is the founder of Kairos Partnerships, an initiative that partners with leaders, pastors and church planters during significant kairos moments in ministry. As part of his time with Kairos Partnerships, he serves on staff with The Ecclesia Network and Fresh Expressions U.S. and coaches leaders, pastors and church planters across the country.

He also oversees the Renew Apprenticeship Program, a year-long experiential program that equips, trains and teaches young leaders and pastors to become effective and faithful church planters for contextual ministry in the 21st century. He is the creator and curator of the Epic Fail Pastors Conference, which helps pastors embrace failure and grow to see failure as an invitation to growth and an opportunity for grace and healing, instead of shame.

He has never helped write a Wikipedia entry and will never outgrow the joy that comes from popping bubble wrap. He’s prone to put too much wasabi on his lunch, but he is a proud card-carrying member of the Clean Plate Club.

J.R. and his wife Megan have two sons, Carter and Bennett, and live in the heart of gritty Lansdale, PA.

Guest Post by Greg Richardson (Strategic Monk)

Please enjoy a guest post by Greg Richardson. Spiritual Direction has been utilized by Christians (and other seekers of truth and growth), for nearly 2,000 years. Before the age of psychoanalysis (which began as an atheist response to wellness) , people trusted spiritual directors for “soul care” (whole care of mind, body, spirit, emotions, etc).

Greg reveals why there is a renewed interest in this area, and how God, through his Holy Spirit, teaches us about the reality of God’s omni-benelovence and omni-presence, as we walk with him. A spiritual guide is very helpful on the journey.

Greg Richardson

From Greg:
Spiritual direction is the art of spiritual conversation and listening carried out in the context of a trusting relationship.

Spiritual direction follows a model drawn from biblical and other ancient practices. When Nicodemus comes to Jesus in John 3, for example, Jesus guides him by asking deep questions and listening to how he responds. It has a long history, including the early Desert Mothers and Fathers, roots in Celtic Christianity, and many other examples.

Interest in spiritual direction is now increasing, at a time when people thirst for spiritual depth and connection but grow disenchanted with traditional forms of organized religion. Silence and listening are rarer and rarer in our time. We long to know that someone is listening to us so we can hear ourselves.

A spiritual director is a faith companion who listens to your life stories with an ear for helping you discern the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life. God is the true guide and director, while your human spiritual director is like a coach or midwife, supporting you as you pay attention and respond to the inner voice of God. The director is primarily interested in your experience of God and how you can follow God’s call. That process is a spiritual journey into the truth about God, yourself, your relationships, your work, and the world.

The premise of spiritual direction is that God is present and active in your everyday life in a multitude of ways that we often do not notice. When you slow down, breathe, begin to reflect and take a long look at what is happening around you, you begin to become more aware of your experience of God’s loving presence. The better you know yourself, the more you know God; the more you know God, the more deeply you know yourself and your direction and purpose. Intimacy with God leads into transformation, healing, and action.

Spiritual direction takes many forms. I have met with people in churches, in coffee shops, and in homes. I go on walks with people, listen to them via email and telephone, and meet with people on Skype. I have met with people once at a retreat or a conference, intermittently at key points in their lives, or regularly each week or each month over a period of years. With some people I say very little; with others I do more prompting or suggesting.

People tell me many things. Some people confess things of which they have been ashamed for years. Some people get angry, some cry, some laugh. I listen, ask questions, and help them hear their own stories.

I am a spiritual director. I am trained, certified, and experienced, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. I spend time listening to people’s stories; we let go of the past and put concerns about the future out of our minds so we can spend time in the present.

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director, leadership coach, and consultant to nonprofit organizations in Pasadena, California. He is a recovering lawyer and professor, as well as a lay oblate connected to the New Camaldoli Benedictine Monastery & Hermitage in Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is, you can reach him at Follow him on twitter, here: @StrategicMonk

Do you have questions for Greg? Please leave you questions or thoughts.