Steve Macchia Blog

Benedict’s Rule of Life – Part 3

leadership.compass

At the beginning of the actual “text” of Benedict’s Rule of Life there is a sub-title that reads “It is called a rule because it regulates the lives of those who obey it.” And, if we recall from my previous entry, it’s “nothing harsh, nothing burdensome” but instead is intended to create abundance of life for all.

 

One of the early chapters of the Rule (chapter two) is about the Qualities of the Abbot, with instructions for the leader. In this chapter he spells out what’s to be expected of the person who has the task of governing a monastery, the place where the community resides.  ”The abbot must never teach or decree or command anything that would deviate from the Lord’s instructions. On the contrary, everything he teaches and command should, like the leaven of divine justice, permeate the minds of his disciples…aware that the shepherd will bear the blame wherever the father of the household finds that the sheep have yielded no profit.”

 

Leadership principles that uphold the role of the Abbot were espoused by Benedict in several ways. The following are especially noteworthy, with application to today’s leaders of faith communities:

 

  1. “He must point out to them all that is good and holy more by example than by words, proposing the commandments of the Lord to receptive disciples with words, but demonstrating God’s instructions to the stubborn and the dull by a living example.” I find this fascinating…that the “stubborn and dull” need both the words and the example of the leader in order to make instructions clear.

 

  1. “The abbot should avoid all favoritism in the monastery. He is not to love one more than another unless he finds someone better in good actions and obedience…and is free to change anyone’s rank as justice demands…if found better than others in good works and in humility.” In this regard, the leader is to love all with impartiality, but is to take special note of those who show themselves to be the more humble and willing to serve…great advice.

 

  1. “In his teaching, the abbot should always observe the Apostle’s recommendation, in which he says ‘use argument, appeal, reproof’ (2 Tim. 4:2) This means that he must vary with circumstances, threatening and coaxing by turns, stern as a taskmaster, devoted and tender as only a father can be. With the undisciplined and restless, he will use firm argument; with the obedient and docile and patient, he will appeal for greater virtue; but as for the negligent and disdainful, we charge him to use reproof and rebuke. He should not gloss over the sins of those who err…” Here the leader is charged to be fatherly toward all under his care, with permission to be more firm with the undisciplined; more appealing to greater virtue among the more obedient and patient; and to use rebuke among the negligent and disdainful. In other words, ‘a little strictness in order to safeguard love’ in and among the community.

 

  1. “The abbot must always remember what he is and remember what he is called, aware that more will be expected of a man to whom more has been entrusted.He must know what a difficult and demanding burden he has undertaken: directing souls and serving a variety of temperaments, coaxing, reproving and encouraging them as appropriate…the abbot must know that anyone undertaking the charge of souls must be ready to account for them.”  The overall summary of the role of the leader is to “direct souls” and that anyone with such a charge over them must at all times be ready to execute that responsibility.

Leadership in any faith community is demanding work. It’s not for the faint of heart. I find it interesting that Benedict so early in his Rule speaks to the importance of leadership in the specific role of Abbot. If only all leaders in the Church today were held to similarly high standards in the deportment of their duties, especially in the care of souls. Lord, have mercy on all leaders in the body of Christ today!

 

 

 



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Benedict’s Rule of Life – Part 2

RuleOfLife.corrider

 

When St. Benedict wrote his famous “Rule of Life” for the community of brothers that would join him in this unique endeavor, he penned a fabulous Preface that’s chock full of invitation. He quotes from the Scriptures and bases his Rule on the Biblical text as the primary guide for this shared life of prayer. In fact, the Rule is basically about two main issues: community (their life together) and contemplation (their commitment to prayer).

 

He writes, “Let us open our eyes to the voice from heaven that every day calls out this charge: ‘If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts.’ And again, ‘You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Over and over again he cites over a dozen such passages, all of which are calling them to a posture of listening and attentiveness to the voice of God as articulated in the Scriptures. His focus on the teachings of Jesus is best summarized in the Matthew 7 analogy, “Whoever hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; the floods came and the winds blew and beat against the house, but it did not fall: it was founded on the rock.”

 

Benedict’s Rule was and is today founded on the Rock, the Scriptures which guided him to these sentiments about life together in godly community. “Therefore we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service. In drawing up its regulations, we hope to set down nothing harsh, nothing burdensome. The good of all concerned , however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.” These are a few of my favorite sentences in the Preface!

 

Nothing harsh, nothing burdensome…instead, the emphasis was to be always on life! The particulars of Benedict’s Rule were very specific, but not at all with an intention to harm or hurt those who would participate. The intention was that all would flourish, and indeed they did and remain so today.

 

A little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love…this short statement in itself is full of great wisdom. If only churches and communities of faith would have a similar guideline today. A little discipline goes a long way toward reconciliation, which always has the preservation of love as its focal point.

 

What from this portion of the Preface feels invitational to you today? To posture your life around attending to the voice of God, primarily through His Word? To be sure that all expectations within your faith community are focused on living an abundant life together? To consider how best to adhere to a little strictness in order to create an environment of reconciliation and love?  These are just a few ideas to prayerfully consider…let me know how the Lord makes his voice clear to you!



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

The Rule of St. Benedict – Part 1

rule-of-life

1500 years ago Benedict left the city of Rome to hear from God. He ended up in a cave some distance outside the city. There he listened to God and crafted a Rule of Life, which has survived to this day for Benedictine communities worldwide. Benedict’s Rule has been an inspiration to many others since then, including yours truly. For the summer I will be offering various parts of the Rule for insight and information, and with a prayer that as you read portions of his community rule you will consider prayerfully the various parts and pieces of your own personal rule of life. Be sure to visit www.RuleOfLife.com for additional information to assist you in this process.

 

From Benedict’s Prologue…

 

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.”

 

Wow, what an opening paragraph! Key words and phrases that pop for me:  Listen – Instructions – Attend – Ear of your heart – Advice from a father who loves you – Welcome it – Faithfully put it into practice – Labor of obedience – Sloth of disobedience – Give up your own will – Do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.

 

A Rule of Life is liberating for all. It’s designed to bring about greater obedience to the King by reordering your loves. In order to attend well to what the Father who loves you is inviting for your life, you must listen with the ears of your heart.

 

Pause today and listen to the voice of the King…what is His invitation for you, in all the major areas of your life?



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

LTI Turns 11 Today!

LTI-Logo_LTI-logo-tagline-VERT

 

July 1 is the 11th Anniversary of Leadership Transformations! We give God all the glory, honor and praise for the many ways He has called, gifted, and empowered us to serve His Kingdom!

 

I’m thanking the Lord for the many people He has sent our way over the years and who today form what’s affectionately called the “LTI Family” They are spread across the country and into other parts of the world. They represent all different strata of society and a variety of denominations and cultures. The LTI Family has been called and set apart to serve leaders and teams in their spiritual formation, discernment and renewal.

 

Today’s blog is my Alleluia Applause to God for calling 30 amazing ministry partners who so generously serve the Church through our multiple ministry initiatives. I’m listing their names here as my prayer of praise to the Lord is lifted in their behalf on this special day of joyful celebration. LTI exists today because of the people who serve the people we serve!

 

Ruth Macchia, Co-Founder and Life-Partner

Rick Anderson, Senior Vice President

Joellen Maurer, Executive Assistant

Susan Currie, Director of Selah and Associate in Formation

Diana Bennett, Board Member and Director of Emmaus

Jeremy Stefano, Minister of Spiritual Formation

Sage Paik, Graphic Designer

Liz Whitfield, Accounts Receivable Manager

David McKiel, Accountant

Elinor Beatty, Board Member and Spiritual Formation Associate

Gayle Heaslip, Spiritual Formation Associate

Greg Mahoney, Website and Software Developer

Rich Plass, Spiritual Formation Associate

Warren Schuh, Lead Church Health Coach

Jim Smith, Sabbatical Coach

David Wu, Spiritual Formation Associate, Houston

Tom Griffith, Pierce Center Coordinator, Boston

Shari Adams, Pierce Center Coordinator, Charlotte

Angela Wisdom, Selah Senior Faculty

Adele Calhoun, Selah Faculty

David Vryhof, Selah Faculty

John French, Selah Faculty

Genalin Niere, Selah Faculty

Mike Chuli, Board Chairman

David Beatty, Board of Directors

Jean Kingston, Board of Directors

Joe Krivickas, Board of Directors

Brian Lacey, Clerk of the Board

Mark Holbrook, National Advisor to the Board

Yours Truly, Steve Macchia, Founder and President

 

If you haven’t perused our website recently, I want to invite you to do so today, and as you page through the site please join me in thanking God for the unique ministry of Leadership Transformations!

 

 

 

 



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Work Matters: Satisfaction

Potter.Clay

Many in the workplace today have boring or unfulfilling jobs. I hear this from friends and family members, and those I sit with as spiritual director or mentor. When a job is either missing, and one is left unemployed, or work is simply ungratifying, either condition can lead a person into a state of sadness or depression. This is difficult to handle and can often lead to lethargy or despondency about the way forward. And, for those around such a person, it can be strenuous to know how best to encourage or uplift them.

 

Satisfaction in one’s work is the goal for all employers and employees. Thankfully, my own personal track record has been on the plus side of gratification for more than three decades of service in several roles but only in a small handful of organizations. Having a deep sense of satisfaction that one’s work matters to God and to others is life giving and sustaining. When that fulfillment is deeply planted in one’s heart and mind, it’s contagious to all who surround them.

 

What is your level of satisfaction with your work today? If you consider  the number “0” as neutral, and -5 to be deeply dissatisfied, with +5 to be deeply satisfied, where are you on that continuum from -5 to +5?  Be honest with yourself. Be genuine with God. Can you also be authentic toward a friend or family member?

 

Sharing your level of satisfaction with your work can lead you out of a funk of disappointment and into a flurry of delight. Identifying the places where your satisfaction could be enhanced is a starting point to deeper fulfillment and gratification. Looking around at your work and determining places where you can be more focused, effective, creative, and yes, even more satisfied can bring you into setting objectives for yourself that will lead you forward. Sometimes just taking an hour to de-clutter your desk or revisit your to do list or try a new skill is a great step toward that goal.

 

No matter what the external conditions may be, what makes work most satisfying is when you know that God is walking with you, is there beside you and working from within you, and longs to be your constantly noticed companion in all aspects of your work. Can you see how God is coming to your aid in a time of testing or challenge at work? Are you calling upon God’s wisdom and strength to be the center of your decision making? Do you see first hand how God has created you, gifted you, called you and empowered you to serve him in your workplace even today?

 

The greatest, highest and deepest form of satisfaction with our work comes from God, not our employer. Hearing God whisper our name, lavish love upon us, and delight in us is the best of all satisfaction. Listen upward and inward today to the voice of the Master and may you hear with clarity God’s “well done, good and faithful steward.” Sharing in the Master’s happiness is when our work outward toward others matters the most!



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Work Matters: Relationships First

 

Penguins

If given the choice, what would be your preference: working in an organization that puts tasks to be accomplished ahead of building quality relationships, or one that places the building of relationships as priority over the fulfillment of responsibilities?  It’s an easy question to answer for me: definitely the one that puts quality relationships over task fulfillment. I’ve been in both settings over the years and have seen both the stark contrast between the two and the benefits of a relationship first approach.

 

The contrast can be summarized in one word: culture. A workplace culture that places task over relationship treats individuals mechanistically, as employees who are hired to accomplish a given task or function. As s/he fulfills their stated job description, their contribution is combined with others on the team to complete the larger mission. Instead of a team, this person is a part of a work force or task group with defined outcomes and specified timetable. In addition, the culture of such an organization stresses achievement of goals as the most important measurement.

 

When a workplace culture stresses the development of quality relationships more than the task at hand, then individuals are cared for and cared about beyond the functional role they play on the team. And, it certainly is a place where team development and health is stressed, where each person matters greatly to the completion of the mission. When team members are listened to beyond their stated job responsibility and treated like human beings rather than human doings, then their allegiance to the various members of the team includes both their shared tasks as well as their community relationships.

 

Every leader has a fundamental choice to make in this regard: what will be our organization’s priority, task or relationship? Both task and relationship can and should be attended to, but the tipping of the scale one direction or another is what makes for greater health and strength, agility and creativity, achievement and sense of fulfilled accomplishment. What is your choice today, both as a member of and/or a leader of a team? Having just returned from a 3-day trip with my closest colleague and friend, I’m remembering first and foremost our informal times together when we shared our personal stories, laughed together during meals, prayed, encouraged, listened and spurred one another on toward greater love and service…the quality of our trusting friendship continues to significantly impact our faithfulness and effectiveness in service to others.

 

What is your choice today? Will task continually trump relationship or will building quality relationships come first?



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Work Matters: The Companion

Faith-and-Holy-Spirit

In the season of Pentecost the church commemorates the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to send “Another Companion” who will be with us forever. That Companion is the Holy Spirit, the One who surprised the disciples fifty days post-resurrection with a time of renewal through a fresh outpouring of love. The Spirit came upon the people with incredible power, which threw the crowds into bewilderment.

 

When Peter spoke to them about what was happening, he quoted the prophet Joel and the psalmist king David…two reputable voices who had a status they would respect.  An even more powerful witness than their words were the actions that transpired thereafter…devotion to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, wonders and signs, unity, generosity, and all with glad and sincere hearts (cf. Acts 2: 42-47).

 

As Christians in the workplace, are we fully aware of the Companion by our side, residing within us, and working through us today? Jesus’ promise undoubtedly was for his disciples, and the fulfillment thereof was for the birthing of his Church. But, his fulfilled promise is also for disciples today – yes, you and me.

 

So, what does that mean for us in our work today? Well, for starters, it certainly means that the Holy Spirit is desirous of bringing about renewal in our hearts, which is evidenced in our inner personhood and then joyfully expressed in our exterior actions.  We don’t simply know the Companion of our souls in our times of personal and corporate worship, but also in our day to day environments as well. The Spirit wants to release his presence, power, and peace through you today. His unique empowerment is for all believers every moment of each new day. Imagine how different your work day would be if you not only believed and acknowledged this reality but open-heartedly invited and depended upon that transformative truth!

 

Are you desirous of such favor, blessing, unity, and joy as a child of God? Trust the Companion to fill you with the empowering presence of the Spirit who makes your life with God and others come fully alive, for that’s the only way authentic transformation will occur.

 



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Work Matters: Accountability and Assessment

Glen Eyrie Castle doorway

In all my years of ministry life, I’ve gained the most learning from the

tougher experiences that invite me to discover new insights about myself

and others. As one of my previous supervisors said to me, “If this

person/situation weren’t in your life today, how would you be growing?”

The greatest growth occurs when I’m willing to be held accountable for my

efforts and attitudes in a safe environment of accountable evaluation. The

more open I remain, the more I learn…it’s really that simple. The same

is true for me as a leader: holding others accountable and offering

helpful assessment is always an opportunity for growth.

 

But, what I’ve also discovered throughout my working years is that most

people don’t generally invite, welcome or appreciate accountability or

assessment. It somehow has this aura of being “threatening” as if one was

going to be inappropriately exposed, evaluated, and/or exhorted for things

done or left undone. The encouraging part of accountability and assessment

has been overshadowed by what feels harsh or burdensome.

 

However, it certainly doesn’t need to be threatening or treated

defensively. Instead, when held in proper perspective and treated with

healthy balance, both accountability and assessment can indeed become one

of the worker’s best friends. After all, when done in a spirit of generous

love and sincere gratefulness, these can be some of the greatest gifts of

the workplace.

 

In recent weeks there have been reports of a certain Christian celebrity

who’s been incredibly threatened by what he calls the sin of gossip, but

what his past and current employees are calling outright abuse of power -

on his part. Ranting to his staff about how gossip is being shared

recklessly on social media in a recent meeting, even using one of his gun

collection as an illustration of gossip’s power to destroy reputation, has

created a culture of fear. There is no longer any sense of security or

appreciation in that work setting…it will be interesting to watch what

transpires in the coming months as this unravels. And, far be it from me

to gossip about who this might be!

 

What is your attitude toward both accountability and assessment? Do you

personally see it as important to your maturity as well as the growth of

those around you? If so, then I invite you to consider offering and

receiving both. With a spirit of openness and a listening ear to learn and

grow as a Christian and as a worker, you will inevitably please and honor

God in all of your daily endeavors.

 

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord,

not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance

from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Col.

3:23,24

 



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Work Matters: Hiatus

photo

We were not created to work 24/7. Instead, our Creator’s design is more like 8-10/6. Or, to translate that into 8-10 hours per day for 6 days, with one of those days (in our modern, post-agricultural generation) for household related chores. The rest of the hours in a day are for rest (we need to sleep), replenishment (we need to eat and perform basic self-care), and relationships (we need to be present to family and friends and others we come alongside and/or serve).

 

In our now-more-urban, fast-paced, heightened-stress world, there is an unstated belief system that keeps alive every possible hour in a given week for yet another activity or work-related responsibility. We have come to believe that every waking hour of every new day needs to be productive and active. But, with that mindset comes an accompanying addiction to work and feeding the incessant need to be needed deep within. We end up exegeting daily the verbs to do, to want, and to have, and neglect the verb to be.

 

Where in your week is there a real hiatus from work, so you can rest, replenish, recreate, and renew? God our Creator filled the first six days of creation with incredible creativity. But he rested on the seventh day and called it holy. Sabbath rest enhances our work as we take time to cease from and enjoy the work of our hands; to rest body, mind and heart; to reclaim our identity as children of God; to celebrate our life in God with the people of God.

 

Relationships have been my primary focus this past week as we witnessed (and I officiated) the marriage of our son to his beloved bride. As a result, a life-giving hiatus from my work occurred and things like a weekly blog weren’t written on time! But, the hiatus from work was filled with refreshment and renewal, the created order came alive in my spirit, and all was very well in my world. I praise God for being fearfully and wonderfully made: created by him to work, but also to rest, to replenish, and to renew. How about you, dear friend?



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments

Work Matters: Integrity

The Birch Trees.Emery House

For the first time in about three decades I can actually say we now have access to excellent service professionals that are truly dependable. It’s so nice to know that on the other end of the phone are a plumber, electrician, builder, auto mechanic, painter, and/or lawn care specialist who all have one important characteristic in common: integrity. What a comfort and peace of mind to know that there are professional vendors out there who keep their word, follow through with excellence, and stand by their work to their customer’s complete satisfaction.

It hasn’t always been the case for us. We’ve had our share of being ripped off by those who said one thing and did another. Can you relate?

Integrity is the quality of being honest, with strong moral principles; having moral uprightness. It also means being a person who is whole and undivided…in other words, a person who’s life is integrated in a healthy, holistic way. A person of integrity is a person who lives consistent with the words and emotions they express. And, when one’s character is matched with one’s competency, a person of integrity ensures that words spoken are lived out in attitudes and actions consistent with one’s message.

A great football player who is a murderer off season struggles with integrity. An elementary school teacher who has child pornography on his computer struggles with integrity. A church leader who is engaged in illegal or immoral practices at work struggles with integrity. A Christian businessman who speaks on various workplace topics and is having an extra-marital affair struggles with integrity. You might be wrestling with integrity if your life as a believer isn’t evidenced in your daily relationships and responsibilities.

Wisdom is knowing the right path to take…and intergrity is taking it. And, as C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing…even when no one is watching.”

Where does integrity come from? It’s evidence of a life of whole-hearted devotion to God. There’s nothing half-hearted about integrity; you either have it or lack it. Nehemiah was known as a man of integrity, as was Job, David, and Isaiah. Each faced their share of hardship and suffering; and all of them were known by others with whom they interacted as men of integrity. Isn’t that what you want said of your work, relationships, and daily life?

Consider the following texts as spiritual guides to a life of integrity. Meditate on these Scriptures as you consider areas of your life that lack the integrity you desire. “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.” (Psalm 25:21) “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9) “In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned.” (Titus 2:7)

Lord, I appeal to you in behalf of my brothers and sisters who today are in their respective workplaces seeking to live godly lives filled with integrity. May the words they speak out and the lives they live out be consistent with their heart for God and their service to others. May the glory of the Lord be evidenced today through the work of their hands and the prayers of their hearts. All for your Kingdom invitation to integrity and for your namesake, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.



Categories: Uncategorized 0 Comments