Self-Evaluation of Christian Leadership
A Research Paper in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
CLED520 (Spring 2013)
The Life of the Leader
Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary
Rick Mangrum (ID# 21757355)
February 24, 2013
This work is a personal assessment or self-evaluation of how a facet of spiritual developmental has influenced my Christian leadership. It is based on the work of Kenneth Boa in his book Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation. Boa presents twelve “beneficial facets” with the intention of helping the reader become more conformed to the image of Christ. Each of the twelve represents a different approach or perspective on personal spirituality. It is a guide of sorts to developing personal spirituality by presenting twelve established methods.
The personal “journey into spirituality” presented by Boa is to take pieces of all or part of the twelve facets and mold them into an individual development plan that helps the reader truly come to know Christ in a close and personal way.. The facets of spirituality presented are relational, paradigm, disciplined, exchanged life, motivated, devotional, holistic, process, spirit-filled, warfare, nurturing and corporate. From my journey into learning’s so far, one of these has clearly already influenced my development so far and continues to impact my future development.
The Boa facet that has clearly influenced my Christian leadership and spiritual development is Paradigm Spirituality, defined as “cultivating an eternal versus a temporal perspective.” This facet details the need for each of us to understand and accept our mortality, shifting our human paradigm from a temporary Earth-centered existence to one that embraces our eternal, Heaven-center future life. “Our presuppositions shape our perspective” in how we look at everyday life. If we know we will live eternally, that this life is not all that there is to our existence, we change our thinking about both life-long goals and everyday actions. This is clearly not the view the world would have us embrace.
Boa clearly details the three most widely accepted world views of life. The most common is that life is really all about chance, all an unpredictable roll of the dice. There are many modern versions of the view. The most common are naturalism, atheism and humanism. You never really know where life is going to go. You are just along for the ride. What we have on Earth today is all life has to offer. Spirituality is the second most common view of our existence. Material matters have no consequence. Only spiritual things matter. This view is embraced by monism, pantheism, transcendentalism and the New Age movement. What happens on Earth has no relevance. The third and Christian view is theism, declaring both a creator and a creation. Both are relevant. After a life of service and faith, the “ultimate reality is an infinite, intelligent and personal” God who seeks an eternal relationship with his believers. What happens on Earth matters and leads to eternal life.
This paradigm shift of spiritual formation, moving from the first or second world view of life into the third, is the foundation of all spiritual development that follows. To “experientially grasp our mortality” normally takes the maturity of at least our thirties according to Boa. His point of view is that it takes that long to understand the needed perspective on our present life and the potential of the future to come. This could gradually or through an event or crisis. At some point, everyone ask the question of the meaning of existence. Those who hold to the first or second world view live in the majority and in the normal paradigm of the day. Those who shift their personal paradigm into theism grow to understand that our God has no limitations. Years are not relevant but as place holders of our time on Earth. This paradigm shift or difference in perspective changes one’s outlook on life and its events. We have only “a few years to labor in this vineyard.” We will one day be rewarded as well and held accountable for how we spent those years. Today matters in how it relates to an eternal tomorrow.
I was very fortunate in my early childhood and Christian development. I was surrounded by strong, Christian men who clearly demonstrated the model of theism and its eternal perspective. As a young boy, I looked up first to my grandfather, then my father, and then to a number of men I knew from our church. All had a long term view of life. My grandfather, in his sixties in my childhood, told me many stories of his upbringing and what he had learned in life. He was the most relationship-focused person I have ever known. His life was all about his family and friends. He never hesitated to share with any of them his perspectives on life, centering on the idea of treating others as you would want to be treated. “What goes around, comes around” he would often say. If you treated others well, long term you would enjoy that treatment. He connected that earth-centered belief to heaven and the afterlife, clearly embracing an eternal perspective. He clearly taught me and his other grandchildren that we would one day answer or be rewarded for our life on Earth and our actions. To him, there was clearly more to life than just our days here on Earth. Our days here are important and are connected to an eternal perspective. He modeled for me and for others an eternal perspective on life.
I never learned any theological standards or precepts from my grandfather, father or any of the men in my childhood church. I learned from their examples, not their words. Those I respected the most had a clear lifestyle of trying to live a godly life with one eye on eternity. I grew to believe this was the “normal” perspective on life. This was so much a part of my development that later in life as I became exposed and educated on other points of view I had trouble understanding them or the perspectives of those who embraced them. Atheism still eludes my full understanding. It is completely foreign to my way of thinking, based in large part of the impact of paradigm spirituality on my early development. I have the same difficulty understanding how anyone can seriously embrace transcendentalism, pantheism or any of the New Age movements. I was well molded as a child in the theism model of this facet of spirituality.
The examples seen in my childhood shaped my perceptions of success. Men who I most admired had that eternal perspective. They were longer term thinkers than others around them. It must have been difficult. It is certainly easier to believe and focus on the things we see in life, not the unseen things of God that require faith. I am sure these men were not perfect and had their moments of doubt, as I sometimes do today. Their examples were pretty steadfast in the eyes of a young boy and clearly shaped by spiritual development. They saw and modeled the view of theism with God watching us on Earth and waiting for us in Heaven.
Of the Boa facets, my personal spiritual development so far has been the most influenced by paradigm spirituality. The goal of any believer should be the eternal perspective. To think of God in eternal terms is to follow the examples set by many men here on Earth, past and present. The biblical prophets understood God to be eternal and everlasting, “so full were they of the long dreams of eternity.” I am thankful to have been influenced by strong examples that helped to begin my molding as a believer. As I reflect on my personal development, I am strongly challenged to insure that I am supplying that same example for all those eyes around me every day. My leadership style is definitely influenced by a deep desire to fully show an eternal perspective to others. That great favor was done for me and I want to share it with others.
Boa, Kenneth, Confirmed to His Image, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.
Tozer, A.W., The Knowledge of the Holy, New York, NY: Harper One Publishing, 1961.