Praise the Lord, O my soul! *
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
...proposing God's commandments to a receptive community with words, but demonstrating God's instructions to the stubborn and the dull by a living example.
Benedict's Rule 2.12 (Chittister, Pg 37)
Benedict is saying that the function of spiritual leadership is not to intimidate people into submission by fear or guilt. The function of spiritual leadership is to show in our own lives the beauty that oozes out of those who live the spiritual life to the fullest.
Chittister, Pg 39
When first looking at this portion of Benedict's Rule, I had the sense I could skip these instructions as I am not a spiritual leader, I am not a prioress or an abbot. Upon reflection I think again. I think of the community that is, hopefully, developing at St. George's, I think of my own life where I lead others at work, and where I co-lead a wonderful two-person community of being a married couple...
At home and at work it isn't fair to ask others to spend time I am not willing to spend or to do things I am not willing to do. I am to do my part, I am to lead by example. (This isn't to say I can do everything that others can do. The others I work with do things that I can't. For example, I work with experts that do things with technical equipment. I ask them to operate and care for that equipment. I make sure they have the resources, time, and training to do their work. Then I stay out of their way as much as possible.)
Our budding instance of the Community of Hope at St. George's is another place where we all will be leading, where we can all lead with both words and example. We hope to provide comfort, stability, and a listening ear where there may be pain, frustration, even loneliness. We will often lead only by example, being examples of presence, hope, peace, and love...
We do lead, may our leadership be such that beauty does ooze from us as we live our spiritual lives.
A Note To Anyone Reading:This entry is part of a series that is developing as I read The Rule of Benedict, A Spirituality for the 21st Century, Joan Chittister, Crossroads, 2010. I am offering this both to those at St. George's Episcopal Church, Arlington VA, that may be reading Ms. Chittister's book and to anyone that is interested.
Unless stated otherwise quotes from St. Benedict's Rule from the translation in this same book.
Psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer, The Episcopal Church, 1979 unless otherwise noted.
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