Why I picked up this book:
A better question would be, “Why would I not pick up any book written by Ruth Haley Barton?” I have several books of hers and use them for “check-ins” with myself, to get a pulse on if I’m running too fast, need to listen more intently, or live more deeply. I read through her books slowly, not because they aren’t good, but because it is necessary for me to do so. Reading this book as been a practice in spiritual formation.
Who Should Read Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership:
This book is particularly helpful for leaders, especially those who are living fast-paced and full lives. With prayer, inspirational quotes, thought-provoking questions, spiritual practices and scriptures throughout, it centers us on God, gives good perspective, and invites us into a spiritual rich, and physically and emotionally healthy way of being in the world.
What’s in Store for You:
In addition to authoring several books, Ruth Haley Baron is the founder of the Transforming Center, and she has a long history of leading men and women in their spiritual formation and organizational leadership.
In her own words:
This book is about the soul—your soul, my soul and the soul of our leadership. When I refer to the soul, I am not talking about some ill-defined amorphous, soft-around-the-edges sort of thing. I am talking about the part of you that is most real—the very essence of you that God knew before he brought you forth in physical form, the part that will exist after your body goes into the ground. This is the “you” that exists beyond any role you play, any job you perform, any relationship that seems to define you, or any notoriety or success you may have achieved. It is the part of you that longs for more of God that you have right now, the part that may, even now, be aware of “missing” God amid the challenges of life in ministry.
For the disciple—for the believer, the Christian—whether we are working in the corporate office, raising a family, starting a business, teaching in a classroom, running a nonprofit, or serving in the church, our entire life is ministry. Whether we know it or not, as a people of God, we all have influence and are called to lead. Our humanity or our personhood needs nurturing if we are to grow in spiritual maturity that sustains us on this life, faith, and leadership journey. This book offers food for our spiritual nourishment.
Throughout it, Ruth Haley Barton, uses Moses and the Exodus narrative to practically teach and encourage the reader concerning life’s leadership challenges and our Godly responses. She writes:
I have been drawn to the story of Moses because I have found it to be so complete in illustrating the different aspects of leadership and so unflinchingly honest about the challenges leaders experience…I have interacted with the story of Moses because this is where I was able to find myself in the biblical story when I came closest to giving up on ministry and leadership. During the dark time, Moses taught me how to pray, how to stay faithful, how to wait, how to lead and how to let go when it was time.
I appreciate her honesty, and I have been there on many different occasions myself. Regardless of where we are on your faith and leadership journey, Barton invites us to see how God transforms each of us and those we lead from the inside out.
My personal take-aways?
I have been reading this book off-and-on for approximately two years. Again, I read her books slowly, intently, reflectively, and thoughtfully.
In preparation for my next book, I spent all of last year reading through the Exodus narrative. For proper context, I read the books of Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Numbers, but I read the book of Exodus over-and-over again. God was speaking to me about Moses’ position in life (the one he was born into, and the one he was supernaturally appointed to) and how that was a challenge for Moses to accept and for others to acknowledge. God was speaking to me about oppression, marginalization, history, and political, social, cultural, and spiritual change. I felt the weight of the world pouring in on me, and it was all quite heavy so I picked up this book again with a prayer.
God, help me to steward my own soul and leadership well in this process.
That began months of digging deep and listening well to clarify the messages God was speaking to my soul. Earlier this year, I shared this resource with the leadership team of my nonprofit, Leadership LINKS, Inc. because we go through a leadership resource together each year.
2018 is a new year, so we wanted to invite others in our LINKS Network—and that includes you—to join in the monthly book discussion that begins on Tuesday evenings at 7:00-8:00 ET beginning March 20, 2018. Here is the timeline:
You can join in this discussion via video or phone using the provided Zoom link. This book discussion is free and open to the public but registration is required to receive the dial-in information. Invite some friends and register here today.
I look forward to having you join in the discussion next week or maybe next month.
“There is the tension between the need for measurable goals and the difficulty of measuring that which is ultimately immeasurable by anyone but God himself.” Ruth Hailey Barton
“[Moses] did not achieve his vision the way he had envisioned it, but he knew God and God knew him—which is perhaps the greatest achievement of all.” Ruth Hailey Barton
“We must find a way to take our whole self into God’s presence—shadow side and all—and wait for solitude to do its good work. This is the leader’s invitation to freedom from the inner bondage of being subject to the deeply patterned responses that were helpful to us at one time but could cripple us now in what we are being called to do. This is a call to liberation that we are often to hear only when we have finally become desperate enough to consider a radical departure from life as we know it so that we can be made well.” Ruth Hailey Barton
Taking responsibility for oneself may well be more demanding than taking responsibility for a congregation or an organization! – Ruth Hailey Barton @TransformingCnt
When we are taking time to pay attention, we never know when God will show up! – Ruth Hailey Barton @TransformingCnt
Now that you know who you are, I am calling you to do something out of the essence of your being. – Ruth Hailey Barton @TransformingCnt
It is hard to keep answering a calling that continually takes us right out of the edge of our faith and our human limitations. – Ruth Hailey Barton @TransformingCnt
Next Up on this Topic:
“The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How transforming your inner life will deeply transform your church, team, and the world” by Peter Scazzero
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2018