Spiritual Leadership – Part 3

As a result of a leader’s prioritization of the care and nurture of one’s own soul, through the practice of spiritual disciplines and the honoring of Sabbath rest, a third focus of prayerful intention is “to listen.” Listening first and foremost to God, through His Word, creation, community, life experiences, disappointments and joys, the leader develops a heart for listening and noticing God. But, when a leader emerges from the prayer closet and enters the world of service, it’s important that a leader listen to those s/he serves. An additional person to listen to is oneself…self-awareness comes from internal listening and the “aha” of the conscience.

Listening to the joys, hurts, and needs of others is an acquired skill. We aren’t naturally inclined to listen to another. Instead, most of the time we’re actually not very focused on anyone but self. So much of life is about self-protection and self-promotion, that to earnestly listen to others we must put aside our own selfish needs and attend loving and compassionately to others. This requires humility of heart and openness of mind, attributes of our personhood that we only acquire through prayerful intentionality. When distracted by our own inner compulsions to self-reference, one can whisper a simple prayer, “Lord, help me to listen with empathy at all times and with all persons.”

Listening to oneself is by far the most challenging. We may consider ourselves self-aware, but in fact most of us are pretty skewed in our self-perceptions. We may think of ourselves as loving, kind, and gracious (for example), but it’s not up to us to evaluate – what does your spouse, children, or significant others have to say about you? Have you ever asked and truly listened? And, in your own personal time with the Lord, are you free to inquire of Him regarding an attitude or action, such as “Why did I respond that way, Lord?” Showing interest in your own responses will enlighten you for the way forward. Practicing healthy self-examination is good for the soul.

Leaders who choose to increase their attentiveness quotient in all areas of life will undoubtedly be the healthiest spiritual leaders. Begin by noticing God in His Word, His still small voice in prayer, through times of corporate worship or service, and in the beauty of His creation. Notice God in your everyday experiences with others, seeking to develop an ever-deepening awareness of those around you. Then, don’t forget to stay attuned to your own joys, needs, aspirations, and frustrations, and seek greater clarity to the “Why’s?” of your reactions and responses to all that life delivers to you.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” James 1:19.


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.