I recently picked up a book by Alan Fadling, called An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rythms of Work and Rest. I picked it up upon the recommendation of Paul Jensen, the executive director of the Leadership Institute, whom Alan is the director of a ministry within that ministry. Its kind of cool actually, many years ago Alan Fadling used to be the college pastor at the church that I am now the college director for. Things have really come full circle, Alan is coming to our college ministry to lead a half-day spiritual retreat. I don’t actually know Alan, but I do know Paul, and if he has the same kind of heart that Paul has then I know we are in for a real treat. But I digress….
In this book Alan calls us to find a balance between our sense of calling and our call to rest. He has a chapter on productivity, and he says that being unhurried doesn’t mean that you lack productivity. He also has a chapter on spiritual practices for living an unhurried life. This chapter is great. I got a taste of a few of these practices in my class with Paul Jensen at Fuller. He also talks about how living an unhurried life allows us to care well for others. Today though I want to pull out an excerpt on his chapter on being “unhurried enough to pray.”
Check out what Alan has to say on prayer:
Some of us are paid in Christian leadership roles. Others volunteer our time to serve. As a leader myself, I think about Jesus’ rhythm of ministry and prayer. What is inviting to me? What resistance rises up within me. For example, to what degree do I see prayer as a strategic activity of leaders in general and of my leadership responsibilities in particular…. One of the single most fruitful activities in which a leader can engage in is praying. Praying for the people God has entrusted to our care.
As a paid Christian Leader, I ask myself whether prayer is legitimate work during office hours or whether I should do it only “on my own time.” Do I see the office as the place where I do the important stuff, where I deal with paperwork, prepare messages, run the institution, plan the events, keep appointments, talk on the phone, and get things done? Is it at all possible that our office hours could reflect the kind of time that the early church leadership spent together sharing in the word, praying, and enjoying fellowship? And is it possible that I might do every task or conduct every meeting in a spirit of prayer? (106-107)
He brings up some very important points. I honestly find myself using my office hours for “office type things.” But is that all that my job consists of? Shouldn’t prayer be a part of my “job?” What about spending time alone with Jesus? I think the same type of questions could be asked about leading a Life Group: Should our pre-meetings simply be a time where we assign tasks and plan out the night? Or should we spend that time praying? Perhaps we need to engage in prayerful planning… These are all the type of questions I don’t have answers to. But I do know that Paul calls us to pray unceasingly, which probably means that everything we do must be infused with a prayerful heart and attitude.
Questions for Reflection:
- What do you think the role of prayer is in leadership?
- Does the way you actually lead reflect your beliefs about prayer?
- What steps could you take to help your belief and actions match up?