Spiritual Leadership – Part 7

I recently purchased a book because of it’s fascinating title, “Three Mile An Hour God.” It was recommended to me by a colleague in a spiritual formation ministry on the west coast. I was fascinated by an excerpt he read to me and then found a used copy of it on the internet. The essence is this: God is very comfortable moving at 3 mph. In fact, He is content if His will takes 40 days, 40 years, or a generation to complete. When He sent Jesus to this earth He walked from village to village, and that pace seemed quite sufficient.

What a sharp contrast to our lives today. We get impatient when red lights seem to take forever, when the wifi we’re on seems slow, or when the speed of the highway is only 55 mph. We much prefer moving at 70 miles per hour, and we want everyone else to keep up with that pace, including God. And when that doesn’t happen, we growl with anger, frustration, and impatience.

Spiritual leaders need to learn how to move slower, particularly in their prayer closets and on days of Sabbath rest. We need to practice the spiritual discipline of noticing God – in His Word, in our prayers, and in our daily lives. We need to learn how to listen attentively to our own souls, and the heart cries of those who surround us – family, friends, work associates, and the myriad of individuals we are called to love and serve in Jesus’ name. We need to discover the beauty of God’s creation at a pace where we can actually enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, the chirping of the birds, the wonders of a wooded pathway, or the splendor of a mountaintop vista.

As we exit our prayer chairs and reengage in our ministry settings, spiritual leaders are best served by considering decision making, program development, and any new initiative more organically than strategically. When we veer exclusively toward the strategic, we tend to push our agenda, expect great things in record time, and become more aggressive in our intentionality. Our time frames become shorter, our work pace quickens, and our productivity is manipulated toward fulfillment of our goal(s) as quickly as possible.

However, when organic growth and development supersedes and remains precedent in our planning and execution processes, we generally allow more time to pray, to discern, to weigh options, to actually consider every angle, and then move forward with greater unity and perseverance. Organic processes calm us down, invite us to pray with open handedness, and then we lean into any new or improved entity with a more relaxed pace and a more realistic expectation. It’s generally better to move in this way. It’s more at the pace of God.

How comfortable are you with organic growth? Do you enjoy watching new seasons emerge in nature? Are you excited to see things from a long term perspective? Or, are you more impatient, prefer the strategic, and become intolerant to waiting? If so, then there might be an invitation for you within this space to consider a new way of leading. I’m suggesting here that spiritual leaders understand, affirm, celebrate, and embrace the organic, longer term approach to ministry leadership, and keep any forms of top down, fast paced strategic planning in prayerful submission to their personal and ministry processes.

Are you expecting God to catch up to your pace of 70 mph? Or, are you willing to walk with God at His pace of 3 mph?

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