Story: A New Path for Spiritual Formation
February 4, 2019
We are thrilled with the opportunity to collaborate with Sioux Falls Seminary in offering a Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (MACL) with an emphasis spiritual formation and development. Dr. Susan Reese and I began piloting two online cohorts in November with 13 students, using VantagePoint3’s A Way of Life process. Student engagement, reflection, and conversation have been great.
Since the cohorts started, I have found myself revisiting the words of Henri Nouwen, words that first grabbed my attention in 1993.
Thinking about the future of Christian leadership, I am convinced that it needs to be a theological leadership. For this to come about, much—very much—has to happen in seminaries and divinity schools. They have to become centers where people are trained in true discernment of the signs of the time. This cannot be just an intellectual training. It requires a deep spiritual formation involving the whole person—body, mind, and heart. Formation in the mind of Christ, who did not cling to power but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, is not what most seminaries are about. Everything in our competitive and ambitious world militates against it. But to the degree that such formation is being sought for and realized, there is hope for the Church of the next century (In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, 1989).
Nouwen’s words continue to challenge us as we seek to take seriously the theological education of Christian leaders, inviting men and women on a journey of development and discipleship.
Since 2000, VantagePoint3 has been partnering with leaders who (1) are looking for ways to develop people and (2) are keenly aware that they themselves are not finished products, but have much “growing up” yet to do. These developmentally-minded leaders find our pathway of processes (The Journey, A Way of Life, Walking with Others) to be exactly what they were looking for.
Haley is one example of such a leader. She has recently been facilitating VP3 Journey groups as a part of her executive coaching business and has now chosen to enter into this new MACL path. Last week I asked her, How did guiding leaders through The Journey play a part in your decision to enroll in this new program?
Haley: Being introduced to the work of VantagePoint3 in many ways felt like a homecoming for me. I quite honestly had not yet discovered—in my mid-30’s—that other people were so committed to investing in the spiritual growth of others for Kingdom influence. I’d worked with many highly educated people in the business marketplace and had never witnessed a strong correlation between higher levels of education and greater efficacy in spiritual or business leadership. So the idea of a master’s program—although I’d been approached about various ones many times—didn’t ever resonate with me. When I was introduced to the concept of this MACL, this changed because it was a master’s program that was built around the marriage of business and spiritual leadership that has always been my own unique vocational call.
Unlike other students in the cohort, I do not have a specific occupational goal in mind for when I finish the program. I believe strongly that God has led me to each professional opportunity—each organization, each role, each person—and that my role is more about preparation, discernment and obedience than anything.
I find myself anticipating and wondering what is Jesus going to do next in Haley’s life, as well as in the lives of the other students walking through this program. It is with this same sense of prayerful anticipation that we join with Sioux Falls Seminary and its innovative Kairos approach in supporting, challenging, and inspiring students on their faith and leadership learning journey. May the name of Jesus live out...