Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.” – Brene Brown

Being vulnerable is not a natural posture for any of us. The nature of vulnerability means that one is exposed, naked, unprotected from powers that can hurt and harm. As a city person, I feel so vulnerable when I am out on a hike wondering what beast is going to charge out of the forest and attack. I don’t like that feeling. Perhaps what’s worse is when I become vulnerable to another person, admitting my mistake, or failure. To be in a place of weakness and at the mercy of another is never a place any of us would choose.

And yet, as Brene Brown beautifully points out, vulnerability takes courage. It is in those moments of vulnerability where we learn what we are made of, where we are weak, and maybe a measurement of how much we value relationships. I think it was Freud who said, love makes us vulnerable. To love another requires vulnerability. To honor another requires vulnerability. To confess makes us vulnerable.

It is counter-intuitive to say being vulnerable is powerful. It is more acceptable to say, “keep a stiff upper lip,” or “don’t let anyone see you sweat.” To be vulnerable would appear to be the way of weakness. Not so. The way to love, strength, and peace is to be vulnerable. Perhaps the words of Christ paint a picture of what vulnerability looks like:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Spiritual leader or guru?

Often, I get a bit angsty trying to understand my role in the church. I understand that my office is pastor, but I feel more often like a missionary to the city and neighborhood our church is part of. That being said, there are certain requirements with the office of pastor and one of those is spiritual leader. That does not mean guru, “know it all,” or resident authority on the lives of those who ask me a question about their spiritual life. It does mean taking responsibility and caring for people who identity as part of our church community.

From his Book, Practicing Greatness, Reggie McNeal points out some key disciplines that all spiritual leaders must develop, I have highlighted them here:

  1. The discipline of self-awareness – this protects leaders from being self-absorbed or merely role driven.

“The difficulty with which some spiritual leaders acknowledge their ambition to seek greatness betrays its motivation.” ~ Reggie McNeal (Practicing Greatness)

  1. The discipline of self-management – acknowledges that great leaders are great managers, not just of others, but, primarily of themselves. Failure to manage yourself leaves a leader vulnerable.
  1. The discipline of self-development – never stop growing. Leaders choose to not only grow through strength but also through failure.
  1. The discipline of mission – Leaders give themselves to great causes. They order their lives focused on their mission rather than allowing others to hijack their agendas or distracting them.
  1. The discipline of decision making – Great leaders consistently make good decisions, knowing how, when and what decisions need to be made.
  1. The discipline of belonging – Great leaders practice community but also make a conscious decision to belong to others. They belong despite the risk, b/c they know that to quit risking is to quit loving and that to quit loving is to quit leading in the spiritual arena.
  1. The discipline of aloneness – great leaders not only endure loneliness of leadership but to actually build solitude into their lives. They appreciate the depth of soul making that is possible only in solitude and heart to heart exchanges with their Leader.

These are challenging and incredibly rewarding. I believe all of them are necessary and yet, I certainly have some work to do. If you are leading a faith community make this book part of your library.