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The Price of Spiritual Leadership

For many years now I have been fascinated with the volumes of literature around leadership. Raised in a blue collar environment, I was never tutored in the theory, nor had demonstrated, beyond a grassroots level all that was involved in qualifying one as a leader.

Now some forty years into both the study of leadership and participation in multiple levels, I sense quite a gap in our understanding of spiritual and secular leadership.

Though not to boast of any attainment of position as a leader, I have served in a myriad of roles in the church (multiple sizes and denominations), the non-profit/for-profit business world, and even political. All and none of those may qualify one as a spiritual leader. I have seen pastors well-schooled but thin at best in their spiritual grooming and “secular” leaders that were very spiritual but would never perceive that as truth.

We are all spirits, that live within physical tabernacles.  There are no true secular divides, unless one affords that the latter are simply a vacuums, created when the spirit has been denied access (if at all possible).

What has set me off on this tirade? Perhaps my current read through the Old Testament. Being somewhat fundamentalists, I am trying to allow the Holy Spirit to lift my eyes above the text and discern what message might be contained in the “why” of this mysterious book, The Bible.

Why does the Life of Christ seem so counter to the Old Testament Laws of God? How is it that the tiring ceremony described in the Old Testament, so embodies the Christ? Is our religious need for literal understanding of the ceremony and our unguarded respect for the Canon, somehow blocking the true depth of the message?

These questions are not new, but seemed glaring this morning as I read through Numbers, particularly in the chapters dealing with Tabernacle leadership. The Nazarite vows and the offerings required of the leaders within the tabernacle, for sure caught my attention. Twelve times the scribe reiterates the same descriptions of offerings required for each of the twelve leaders. Why all this redundancy? Why all this necessary activity in the Tabernacle?  There must be answers? Perhaps some scholar will respond?

Is there an element to spiritual development for which only frustrating repetition and seemingly ridiculous requirements are necessary given our fallen race? Were these ceremonial rites of little importance to God beyond setting up the Messiah’s entry? If so, why did it require the death of those who violated ceremony?

Growing ones hair and beard, avoidance of any wine or grape products; then, shaving all ones hair and burning it in some ritual at the end of the period of the vow, a testimony of separation to God (spiritual leadership)?  Just ruminating on what that poor spirit was going through to please a deity quite different than was required by the Christ.  He turned water to wine for the simple purpose of aiding a celebration. He seemed to show up at parties with a fervent disdain for religion? “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” Our response, crucifixion!

Is religion our best attempt at explaining the phenomenal moments history has recorded among spiritual people?   Perhaps religion is only a tool used by a loving God, hard in pursuit of developing our spirits at the expense of physical comfort, yet over emphasized by us, given our ego and jaded image of God?

All this rambling also has context in a serious moment with a dear friend, the closest yet to a scholar with whom I have ever associated. Raised in the tradition of the Old Testament, he is now suffering in a very dark place. When we talk however, great joy seems to arise in our spirits, as if God is up to something that might set this man apart as a leader in ways not yet experienced; though among his peers, he is quite the leader already!

You gotta wonder, if religion, just like dis-ease is required to frustrate man toward God and the Christ?  Our response perhaps a demonstration of just how difficult we can make this for our Father!

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