The book “Journeys to Significance” by author Neil Cole has been a timely reminder for me that spiritual leadership is a road I choose to travel. A challenge I choose to embrace. Sometimes it will test my endurance like a cold wind. Other times, it will reward me with the beautiful sunrise of a life transformed at Jesus’ side. But at all stages and ages, amidst its unique ebb and flow, I remain on the journey.
“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is … that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” (Nietzsche)
The author shares the following timeline for the life of the apostle Paul.
While recalling the phases and journeys of Paul, and their Biblical stories, I run my finger down each column of this table and could tell you my own story. I could tell you a “Phase I” story of a foundation that was laid while growing up as a “p.k.” (preacher’s kid). A “Phase II” conversion and new life story while attending Friends University in Wichita; then a “Phase III” first journey story of venturing out to encounter God in Mexico as a missionary. And currently, I am in a “Phase IV” second journey story of collaborating with you in ministry in order to see our Hispanic Ministry of the Great Plains prosper. I ask myself though, “What will a ‘Phase V’ and ‘Phase VI’ look like for me?” Will the Holy Spirit enable me to enter “my Ephesus?” Will I get to “my Rome?” (Heaven forbid … ) Will I lose my head? Will I leave a legacy that lives on after my death?
Cole shares these lines that speak to the reality of a spiritual leader journeying towards perfection in Christ ...“After traveling 15,000 miles (8,700 by land), enduring four shipwrecks, starting churches and seven- or eight people groups, writing 15 letters that we know of (13 of which are in the New Testament), and enduring multiple imprisonments and uncounted beatings, he ended his life almost alone. According to 2 Timothy, he spent his last days short on time (4:9), cold (4:13), lonely (4:11), rejected by his own spiritual children (1:15), abandoned by his sons in the faith (4:10), and betrayed by someone he trusted (4:14). Nevertheless, even though few stood with him in the end, he was a success (4:6-8).”
As a spiritual leader, I know that I must keep moving forward. I must remain in Christ. I invite us to ponder the following questions as they apply to our own leadership journeys:
1. What are the significant events, people and learnings that characterize the phase of leadership-life I am currently living?
2. What are some of the “road-markers” that might alert me of a transition from this phase to the next phase God has waiting for me?
3. What phase are others around me living right now?
4. What does finishing well look like for me?
Corey Daniel Godbey is Hispanic Ministry coordinator for the Great Plains Conference. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.