Tag Archives: leadership

A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care

It was on fire, but not consumed...

 

I have the privilege of routinely teaching a local or teleclass version of  A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care.  Lay leaders and clergy from across the country have continued to shape this and bless it greatly through their own stories and wisdom.

After four years of teaching this course, I am still deeply moved by the Word’s promise and by the hope it stirs in attendees.  While the class in rooted in reflections on Romans 12 (especially vs. 1-2), the image of a “living sacrifice” or of a life aflame with love BUT NOT EXTINGUISHED have often led us to meditate on Moses and his encounter with the burning bush in Exodus 3.  Encounter with the Holy, with a new call, with a fiery vision that claimed Moses for work he could not imagine himself to be up for.  And we linger with the feeling of awe passed down through the ages: the attention-getting “I am who I am” is alive with creative Exodusing.  Then and now.  Beyond what and who we can imagine.  Alive with possibility.  A sustained and sustaining message.

This is what my clients and students want for their lives.  And what I want for mine.  Lives ablaze, lived fully and generously with grace.  Given to others and yet replenished by the enlivening Spirit.  Biblical PRINCIPLES help us to make choices which cultivate space for Divine renewal.  If this sounds like something you’d like support for in 2013, we’d love to have you join us on the “living well” journey.  Sign-up for the January 2013 class (Fridays at 8am) here.

 

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A Prayer for Election Day 2012

Oh, Creating One!

You reside within and among us all.

You reveal all Light, and revel in all Love.

You beckon us beyond Ego’s fear and violence.

You call us to our true home, where earth-loving citizens live from Heaven’s embrace.

Deliver us from pride and despair,

from tribalism and lofty rhetoric,

from anger and apathy.

May we be unrelenting in our work for true peace and true prosperity for all.

May we be bold in speaking truth about the barriers to these, wherever they are found.

May today’s results reveal our best selves, and illumine with clarity the spiritual and civic growth that is yet ours to do.

May we see in one another’s eyes the longings and hopes, the vulnerabilities and frailties that are our own.

May such knowing animate a New Creation wherever we live and serve.
For the Sake of Good News, I pray.

With vision of these already answered, I pray. 

In union with the Living Christ, I pray.

With the deeds of my life, I pray.

Blessed Be.

 

 

— Rev. Jacki Belile, CEC is an American Baptist minister and spiritual life coach at Living Well Ministries in Chicago.  She serves people of all religious backgrounds who desire to live from their best spirit (energy).   Her  special passion is building bridges of compassion and respect, which manifests in her forgiveness, self-care and LGBT-affirming programs.  She wrote this prayer in stages on November 6, 2012.

 

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Love from the Center of Who You are…

“Love from the Center of Who You are.”   That’s Eugene Peterson’s marvelous paraphrase of Romans 12:9a in The Message. 

How do you hear this invitation in your season of life?

I hear it as a beacon of wisdom for conversations about “self” care.

My clients and I often reflect on natural connections between this great invitation and the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements. Indirectly, these great themes from TFA often show up on this Biblical “self” care series:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

In my own life, I have discovered that if my current load of commitments, or my mindframe or approach to them, are hindrances to the above agreements, then I am in danger of damaging my “self”, relationships or commitments.

None of us are –or are called to be — PERFECT.  Yet we are invited to a quality of peace and integrity and abundance in our living and serving that I so often find sadly lacking in the realm of those of us called to serve.   Perhaps you have seen this too… there is so much suffering of anxiety, frustration, resentments and fear that accumulate if we are compulsively accruing the responsibilities we carry.  One way to relieve this suffering is to explore whether we have discerned well, or chosen freely, that which is on our plate.

My clients and students at Living Well Ministries, where I offer spiritual life coaching, are signing on to make shifts out of current unsustainable lives for the sake of “living well.”If you would like support for your reflections and actions for “self” care, we invite you to join this November teleclass. You will take away fresh insights and tools for making choices of sustainability (“a living sacrifice.”)
Registration cost of $85 includes one 30-minute coaching session. Order tickets via Eventbrite:
http://alivingsacrifice1112-efbevent.eventbrite.com/. Deadline: November 2.

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Guide My Steps: A Prayer for Heart

I’m passing on this prayer from a dear sister-pastor Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton because it really moves me, gives me some extra voice and vision and might do so for you too. Let us not forsake praying in these challenging times! -Jacki
Dear God:

Today I am not feeling very gracious about my fellow citizens on the ‘other side of the aisle.’ I listen to the speeches, and they sound full of arrogance and lies. I know I am supposed to take the log out of my own eye, love my neighbor and all, but it’s hard to love in the face of what feels like a whole lot of self-interested and intentionally misleading talk.

We are so far from your beloved community. When a participant in the convention throws peanuts at an African-American reporter and says, ‘This is how we feed the animals…’ I want to throw up. God, I give thanks that that person was thrown out of the convention hall. Thank you for that.

As for the rest: I’m turning it over to you. You are Judge; you know the intentions of all our hearts. Teach me how to worry less about the perceived misbehavior of others and more about my own labors. Give me the strength and compassion to work for a world that really does tend to – and learn from – ‘the least of these.’

And God: I also want the voice to speak out against racism and economic injustice. I can do that, right? It’s O.K. to call out bad behavior when I see it? To point a finger in the face of hurtful words and destructive actions? ‘Cause I really want to do that… And I think that’s what Jesus did. Guide my steps, God, and my words.

Amen.

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You Can Cultivate Freedom

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.

 

 PRACTICING THIS FREEDOM IS TRULY LIVING WELL!

 

My life as a disciple, partner, coach and minister has been changed by the principles of Energy Leadership.  At the heart of it is the reality that how we think about ourselves and the world (our consciousness) can be fueled by relatively more catabolic or anabolic thoughts.  These seven levels of energy lead to varying understandable emotional response, and can thus create a smaller or larger range of experiences in this world.  By exploring and removing our energy blocks, we make room for the natural inflow of MORE energy (spirit, I would say).  Thus, we experience and shape more peace, joy, productivity, objectivity, and compassionate connection.

As a minister and life coach I am dedicated to supporting the most grounding PRACTICES for my clients and students.  Helping with the daily practice of cultivating freedom in relationship to their thoughts and emotions is a wonderful, wonderful privilege.   I think that this is related to what some evangelical churches do well, and many mainline churches do poorly.  The mainline social gospel tradition has a much wiser grasp on the societal obstacles to justice and opportunity that we have created (“systemic ills”).  And, my heart is sometimes heavy that we lack a compelling vision of the intersection of individual freedom and responsibility with the social transformation we seek.  This model is a very promising tool for holding these two truths together for the sake of lasting change.

Created by Dr. Bruce D. Schneider, this is undergirding of the coaching philosophy of The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).  After my previous pastorate at Grace Baptist Church, I completed this coaching program when  I launched Living Well Ministries in 2008.  I count it as one of the most nourishing and challenging blessings of my life, and am proud to serve with thousands of peers across the world who share this “toolbox” for the good of others and fulfill their own callings.

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Work and Meditation… Not Opposite?

I have been challenged and nourished by Osho’s teaching for nearly a decade.  I have especially appreciated his books Intelligence and Creativity.  I find this excerpt below about a false dichotomy between work and rest challenging to my life experience and the kinds of support I offer clients and students.  So many laborers of love long for a restoration of rhythm in their life.  And, yes, I do find it helpful to encourage distinctions between work and rest in our efforts to craft sustainable lives.  That said, I do find this teaching of Osho’s below compelling.  I will be meditating on it further this Fall as I prepare for the next Biblical “self” care class called “A Living Sacrifice” (Tuesdays in October).

What are your thoughts?

Click the pictures below to visit Osho’s website.

Pune, India     Osho Meditation Resort


 

“People need to change the attitude that exists about work, particularly in the Western mind. Meditation should be part of the work, not separate from it.

“Work and relaxation are not contradictory. In fact, the more you put yourself into work the deeper you can go into relaxation. So both are important. The harder you work the deeper you can relax. Work is valuable. It will bring humbleness and silence. People should feel that their work is something very special, and that whatever work they do is respectable.”

“The emphasis should be on full-time work. 6 hours a day is perfectly okay. Work is part of the whole program – when you work, work as if it were a group therapy. Call it “work meditation”. If you really want to meditate and get into yourself, at least 6 hours work is a necessity – is part of the whole change in your energy. It is scientific. For 6 hours you should forget everything else – forget the whole world, forget your problems – whatever work it is, be total in it. Then something is possible.”

On another occasion Osho explains his radical approach:

“It is a very western idea of having a separation between the work and enjoyment; it is a very Christian idea – that God worked for 6 days and on the seventh he rested. But my vision is totally against this whole idea from the past. I am giving you a totally new vision, a totally new man who is not split into work and rest. For me relaxation and work are not opposite. I am not at all in favor of people feeling they work too hard and they need a rest or a break to relax and that they have to go somewhere away, away from the work. My vision is that you enjoy totally whatever you are doing, I am not against swimming or against fresh air, or against lakes. It is the split that I am against, the separation that this is work and this is enjoyment, the idea that I need to go to the lake for a break, to relax, to get away from the work.”

Source:  http://www.osho.com

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Living Well on the Rainbow Journey

In preparing for the blessed opportunity to be with PFLAG-Chicago on July 15, I was so mindful of the long journey I’ve taken.   It feels more like concentric rings on a tree than a journey through strangely disparate lands, though.

A fundamentalist Baptist childhood

a graced evangelical college chapter (laced with the pain of the closet)

the finding of sanctuary and healing as a young adult lesbian in an intimate LGBT-welcoming church (Grace Baptist Church)

the journey of ministry call and the fires of social justice awakening at Chicago Theological Seminary

a season of pastoral leadership that brought new rhythms of wellness and passion for personal and community health

(including spiritual paths and places!)

new paradigm shifts that make peace and prosperity a reality, and call me to build yet more bridges.

 

What is the impact of all of this?

More than ever, I know that my part to play in justice-making is more of a healing and bridge-building role than an activist’s battle strategy.

I look around at the volatility of our times and the fervent opponents to diversity and solidarity.  What I see and feel is the brokenness we all share in the web of the Ego: fear, insecurity, anger, aversion, enmity.  No prejudice which would withhold safety or equality from other groups is VALID, and must be challenged and overturned.  But I trust more than ever this Knowing:  ALL EMOTIONS ARE VALID.  (By valid, I simply mean that people are having whatever experience they are choosing to have, and it is not my place to judge these difficult feelings.)  While we do the necessary work to persuade, and to “lobby” and to convince minds and to gain votes for the sake of more just laws, we can either hold a transcendent and redemptive hope for all (New Creation) or simply replay the unsustainable script Winner Takes All with its short-term gains.

The social and political opponents  of LGBT diversity, or transracial solidarity, are caught in the grips of age-old fears of difference and projections of blame and anger that the New Testament might call “the flesh.”  But I am letting go of the battle mindset that “spirit” opposes “flesh.  The Rainbow Journey has taught me that this idea does great internal damage to our personal spirituality and integrity.  And, how often do we make our group out to be the ones who need to battle those “Others!”

Time and time again, when I’ve set a different course and nurtured a different energy, I’ve found that hearts and minds of opponents open up to new encounters and relationships.  People long for a little respect and dignity; our brothers and sisters who are most afraid and angry, who are most caught up in emotional and social barriers or violence, need the healing presence of bridge-builders who genuinely care for their pain and can honor their authentic desires for Good.  It is only then that ideas about the Good, or how to live out the Good, can be reexamined and let go where they are found to be  limiting our God.

I most certainly have not “arrived” in my own struggles to occupy such a place.  But I am a product of these multiple communities and hold them all, somehow, inside me.  I have made peace with that. And I am more convinced than ever that spiritually speaking this is the KEY to “living well.”  In my living, coaching and teaching I am focusing on personal transformation and healing.  As LGBT folks and allies work on forgiveness, coming our, self-care or faith transitions, they find that the more self-compassion and acceptance we experience the less enmeshed in enmity we need to feel.  It is only from this place of spiritual freedom and equanimity that we can truly be the creative change agents that our world so desperately needs.

 

 

 

 

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A Future Not Our Own

This poem-prayer, often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, helps me to remember and to teach a certain kind of stillness which is not passivity, a vision which avoids being ungrounded in the present.  Oh, how we all need to be reminded of the Master Builder, to think and to pray and to walk with the One who holds the future.  My clients who are leaders of any kind, especially clergy and activists working hard to make a difference in this world, especially often need to be nourished — and CHALLENGED — by these words.  I dedicate this to them, and to the older adults whom I will serve as guest preacher this Sunday.

I learned recently that Romero never spoke these words, yet they live on as Word spoken by his life.  In my sermon for Sunday (Pentecost/Memorial Day), I hope to do justice to and with this sacred text and the words of hope in Hebrews 11-12.

Thanks to Dan Clendenin for his terrific site, Journey with Jesus, where I found this text and background.  This is an excerpt from his page:

 

In memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980)

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

From Xavarian Missionaries:

Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived. He had always been close to his people, preached a prophetic gospel, denouncing the injustice in his country and supporting the development of popular and mass organizations. He became the voice of the Salvadoran people when all other channels of expression had been crushed by the repression.

This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included it in a reflection titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

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You Cannot Change the Circumstances…

“You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” — Jim Rohn

 

This is a wonderfully life-giving and empowering reminder to me.  I do not hear it as piety but as prophetically wise, not as quietism but responsibility-taking, not as escapism but as incredible rigor.  My clients and students who are working on sustainable activism, biblical self-care,  forgiveness or coming out as gay or lesbian Christians are thriving because they are learning what they REALLY have charge of — their “energy leadership.”

This approach – quite suitable for Lent —  yokes self-examination with the tasks of transformation of circumstances.  It makes the interior life the starting point.

I join others from time to time in the critique of Western individualism and the corrosive impact it has had when taken to the extreme.  But I will not settle for a faith and a justice-calling that does not take seriously — reverentially — that resilience that can be cultivated only when we remember the limits of what we have charge of…

It is, I would go so far to say, GOOD NEWS.

What do you think?

 

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I Don’t Need to Suffer to Be of Service

The following italicized excerpt is from Micheal Neill, one of the coaching mentors I most treasure, and taken from his February 13, 2012 newsletter.

I can see that life was unfolding before I was born and will continue to do so long after I’m gone. And that while I have a role to play, I’m not the star of this particular movie. Which is a huge and blessed relief, because it means I can just relax and enjoy my life as best I know how to do.

I don’t need to suffer to be of service – in fact, over time it’s the one thing sure to stop me. Suffer long enough and you begin to shield your eyes from the suffering of others. 

In fact, the simple but paradoxical rule of thumb seems to be this:

The more I enjoy my life, the more compassion I feel for the suffering of others.

Have fun, learn heaps, and be kind – to yourself and to everyone else!

Read more at Micheal Neill’s website.

The above letter provokes me into thought, prayer and conversation about a theme that I am working out “with fear and trembling” (that’s old-fashioned King James biblical language, not literal fear).  The crux of the complicated wrestling:

How can it be that so much of Christian thought and effort seems to be attached to suffering and sacrifice?

Where is this damaging preoccupation manifest today among conservative AND liberal notions of bearing the cross?

What does it look like to prosper in joyful growth, service and community with the humility of the Gospel (laid out in the Sermon on the Mount)?

My clients, students and I are working this out together.  Because the notion that enjoying this life is a betrayal of the Gospel or necessarily a block to the outpouring of compassion and justice has damaged countless precious lives and distorted the integrity of our worshipful offerings.  The cost, in terms of Biblical self-care, is that we risk false and prideful sacrifice rather than the “living sacrifice” which we see in Romans 12.  And, that we fail to make “every thought captive to Christ” by savoring the gifts of this world: loving relationships with self and others, nature, collaborations of all kinds, music and art and all sensory embodied experiences.  Being with others’ joy and pain in graced silence.  And so much more.  And, the time to truly know all these.

Thanks for being on this journey with me, and with provocative mentors and conversations like Michael.

Peace and love,

Jacki

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