Spiritual Leadership – Part 9
Transformation. It’s a large and wonderful word. At its core it means “the operation of changing from one configuration to another; a metamorphosis; a conversion.” When Jesus invited his disciples to follow him, he knew they would be changed men as a result. Peter stumbled a few times but ended up convinced of his Savior, and the keys of the kingdom were placed in his hands. Paul was transformed on the road to Damascus by a bright shining light which blinded him temporarily, after which he changed from a persecutor of Jesus to one of the greatest evangelists for Jesus. Conversion usually begins for individuals, and has ripple effects on organizations and movements.
Spiritual leaders know that the transformation process takes time, even if welcomed initially by radical change. This primarily organic process includes discernment, decision-making, change management, strategic planning, continual improvement, and ongoing evaluation. Each of these steps in the transformation experience can be stunted by immaturity, hardness of heart, and/or outright disobedience to the call of God. Choosing to lean into transformation includes a recognition that change can be messy, difficult, and time consuming. But, the exhilaration of knowing that fruitfulness is just around the corner from Transformation Alley, a godly leader knows it’s always worth paying the price to fulfill.
When the metamorphosis occurs for either individuals or organizations, the impact on others is outstanding. Transformation is always to occur in order to unleash the fulfillment of an outwardly focused mission. We are changed from the inside out in order to bring that same life-transformation to others. Once experienced ourselves, the most natural reflex is to offer what we’ve received to all who cross our path. When Paul was converted, he immediately started to preach. It was shocking for those around him to make sense of the dramatic transformation Paul experienced. Thankfully, Paul had Barnabas to vouch for him and help him seamlessly enter the Christian community. The more they heard from Paul the more they believed he was truly a changed man. As a result, the church grew a hundredfold under his remarkable tutelage as a spiritual leader.
Christian leaders not only embrace the transformative process for themselves, but they regularly invite others to receive it as well. Spiritual leaders have a long-term perspective about what it takes to bring about meaningful life, church, organization, and/or societal transformation. Patient with the process, such leaders prayerfully wait for God to lead the way and empower them by His Spirit. When we place ourselves at the mercy of God, we are better prepared to see him more clearly and follow him more sincerely. There is no greater joy than to know you are smack dab in the center of His remarkable will…the place where transformation ultimately occurs.
In the Message, Romans 12: 1,2 is paraphrased as follows: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Are you ready to be changed from the inside out? Then be sure to offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. The transformation process is about to begin once more!