Posts by Ruth Haley Barton

Practicing Relinquishment: The Enneagram Goes on Retreat 

“Every movement toward the humiliation of the false self, if we accept it, is a step toward freedom and inner resurrection.”  – Fr. Thomas Keating  Many of us have no idea how addicted we are to human striving, hard work, and performance-oriented drivenness until we actually stop. This may be one of the most shocking…

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Retreat: Invitation to a Counter-Cultural Practice

 “I have lived too long where I am reachable.”–Rumi It is a wonderful thing to be invited—especially when the invitation is particularly well-suited to our needs, our desires, our delights. A gifted communicator receives a significant invitation to speak on a topic that is important to them. An artist is commissioned to create banners for…

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Retreat: The Gift and Necessity of Time Away with God

 “If we don’t come apart for while, we will come apart after awhile.” –Dallas Willard Brad is a pastor whose church is going well. Attendance at weekend services is growing steadily, and they have just completed a building project that is enabling them to grow and provide a variety of ministries to meet needs within…

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Part Four: Reenvisioning the Promised Land

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses

“We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.” —Bishop Ken Untener Strengthening the soul of your leadership is a journey that begins, continues and ends with a tenacious seeking after God in the crucible of ministry. It is an invitation to stay connected with your…

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Part Three: The Conundrum of Calling

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses

“Calling is a much abused word today. In the church it can be little more than a pious euphemism for doing what we feel like doing. Such abuse is brought to celebration in the secular culture, when doing what we feel like doing, attained by any way we feel like doing it, seems often to…

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Part Two: The Power of a Well-Timed Pause

Leadership Lessons from the Life of Moses

“Spiritual leadership springs forth in grace from our very desire for God’s presence. This does not take effort or striving.  It takes courage, a kind of showing up, attentiveness.” –Gerald May Moses remained in a solitary, non-public existence for a long time. It was as if—in some deep and fundamental way—he just let go. He…

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When Leaders Lose Their Souls

strengthening the soul of your leadership artwork

“For what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” Matthew 16:26 (NLT) I want to talk to you about the soul—your soul, my soul, and the soul of our leadership. When I refer to the soul, I am not talking about…

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Staying Awake During Holy Week

Lent reflections week 5

Lectionary readings and guidance on using the lectionary Good Friday: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42 “Stay together, friends, don’t scatter and sleep. Our friendship is made of being awake.” Rumi In her book Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris comments that in a monastery, Holy Week is “a total surrender to worship.” This surrender allows for a greater…

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Join a worldwide prayer vigil on Good Friday 2018

For many years we have hosted a Stations of the Cross prayer service on Good Friday as a way of joining Jesus on his journey to the cross. Sadly, the beautiful chapel we have used is no longer in existence so this year we are inviting you to join us virtually. When we have invited people…

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Lent: Dying That We Might Live

Lent reflections week 5

Lectionary readings and guidance on using the lectionary Fifth Sunday in Lent: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-12; Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33 “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24 I’ll never forget walking to lunch with several…

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Love, Lent, and Leadership: Fashioning Your Own Wilderness

ash wednesday and Lent

Lectionary readings and guidance on using the lectionary Ash Wednesday: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 First Sunday in Lent: Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-10; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15 “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he was…

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Equipping and Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders

All the Lord is yet to do

Dear Friend, When a few of us started meeting together fifteen years ago to attend to our own spiritual formation as leaders, it would have been impossible to imagine all the Lord would eventually do. We began gathering on retreat not to start a ministry—but to survive and thrive ourselves. Now I can hardly believe…

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Advent: Leaders in Waiting

Lectionary Readings for the first week of Advent: Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37 Click for complete Advent calendar (CycleB) and guidance on using the lectionary. “No one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.” Isaiah…

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Fall Garden

In fall the garden is spent having given its all. Cucumber vines lie exhausted on the ground Tomato plants list to one side Cornstalks stand dignified and empty Sunflower faces droop earthward, shades of their former selves. All that has not been claimed lies moldering in the dirt— a bruised tomato, a forsaken pepper… a…

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The Darkness of Indifference

Charlottesville

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference.  The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.” –Elie Wiesel Remember when the question, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” was a point of conversation? …

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On the Road to Becoming a Transforming Church

Becoming a Transforming Church retreat

“Nondiscipleship is the elephant in the church.”  – Dallas Willard Oak Hills Church was founded in 1984 with seventeen people in rented space at a strip mall in the “quickly growing but still quaint” little suburb known as Folsom, CA. Original members walked the streets, knocking on doors, inviting people to come to this brand new…

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What Kind of Church Are You?

becoming a transforming church

“Eventually, someone looking for a church home will ask some variation of this question:  So what kind of church are you?”  – Kent Carlson Recently while signing books at a conference on spiritual formation, a sharply-dressed woman approached who seemed to have no interest in purchasing a book. Instead, she marched right up to me…

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The Loneliness of Leadership

tree

Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me…If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here.” Exodus 33:12, 14 Any leader who cannot endure profound levels of loneliness will not last…

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Observing Lent: Seeing What We’re Missing

Lent-2017

Lectionary readings for Fourth Sunday of Lent Cycle A: 1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 Guidance on using the lectionary. “Spiritual masters often refer to a kind of “dread,” the nagging sense that we have missed something important and have been somehow untrue—to ourselves, to others, to God. Lent is a good…

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Returning to God with All Our Hearts: Preparing for a Holy Lent

Ash-Wednesday-Lent

Lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday Cycle A: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; II Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Guidance on using the lectionary. I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating…

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All the Lord has Done: Sharing Stories of Transformation

“I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness, from the great congregation.”  Psalm 40:9 The practice of noticing Those of you who have been through a Transforming Community remember that on the last retreat there is a…

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Epiphany: In Celebration of the Journey

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for January 6, 2017: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 “A good journey begins with knowing where you are and being willing to go somewhere else.” Richard Rohr Today we celebrate epiphany—the “showing forth” or “the revelation” of Christ in the world. Epiphany takes its themes…

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Transforming leaders — may their tribe increase!

Announcement from Ruth Haley Barton

Dear Friend, It is hard to remember a time when the topic of leadership and character has been more pressing on our minds and hearts. The most oft-repeated sentiment I heard during the recent presidential election was some version of “Since I can’t vouch for either candidate’s character I am going to vote for their…

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Can You Hear God Now? Your Most Important Leadership Role

What is Spiritual Leadership?

Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  Those who are spiritual discern all things…  1 Corinthians 2:14-15a A pastor told me that his church had outgrown their facility, so they were asking,…

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Advent 1: The Importance of Waking Up

Advent Week One

Lectionary readings for November 27, 2016: Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; Rom 13:11-14; Matt 24:36-44 Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle A) and guidance on using the lectionary. “God comes to us like the sun in the morning—when it is time.”—Carlo Carretto, The God Who Comes My favorite time of any day is the pre-dawn moments before the…

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Election Day 2016: Lord, Teach Us to Pray…Today

Election Dat 2016: Teach us to pray today

“Lord, teach us to pray…”  ~ Jesus’ disciples in Luke 11 Ok, I admit it.  I’ve been discouraged, grumpy and even a bit depressed this election season, as I’m sure many of you have been. Perhaps the most accurate way to describe my state of mind and heart is that I have experienced desolation, in…

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First Things First: Practicing What We Preach

Practicing What we Preach

“A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside him/herself, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership do more harm than good.” –Parker Palmer By the time you get this, I will have begun an eight-day silent retreat.  During this time, I will not have access…

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Holy Week: An Invitation to Walk with Christ

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for the Liturgy of the Palms: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-20; Luke 19:28-40 Lectionary readings for the Liturgy of the Passion: Isaiah 50:4-9a; Psalm 31:9-16; Philippians 2:5-11; Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49 “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?” Matthew 26:40 Holy Week is a bizarre juxtaposition of…

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Remembering Bob Mulholland

Dr. M. Robert Mulholland Jr., 1936–2015

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear, the saying goes, and that is certainly what happened to me with Bob Mulholland. When I first encountered his book, Invitation to a Journey, I was in my early thirties and experiencing the limits of what typical “evangelical” discipleship models had to offer. I had already begun seeking…

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Lent: Help us Find Our Confession

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for March 6, 2016: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32 God, help us find our confession; The truth within us which is hidden from our mind; The beauty or ugliness we see elsewhere But never in ourselves; The stowaway which has been smuggled Into the dark…

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Ash Wednesday: Crossing the Threshold into Lent

Guidance on using the lectionary. Lectionary readings for February 10, 2016: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 or Isaiah 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 “‘And yet even now,’ says the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart…’” –Joel 2:12 Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season—six weeks…

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Lent 2016: Ready or Not—Here it Comes!

Lent

Oh God, let something essential happen to me, something more than interesting or entertaining or thoughtful.  Oh God, let something essential happen to me, something awesome, something real.  Speak to my condition, Lord and change me somewhere inside where it matters.  Let something happen which is my real self, Oh God. —Ted Loder This year,…

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Entering Advent: Hurry Up and Wait!

Lectionary readings for November 29, 2015: Jeremiah 33: 14-16; Psalm 25: 1-10; 1 Thessalonians  3:9-13; Luke 21: 25-36 Click for complete Advent calendar (Cycle C) and guidance on using the lectionary. “Unto you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  O my God, in you I trust.”  Ps 25:1, 2 “Hurry up and wait!” Usually this statement is laced with…

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Solitude: In God for the World

“Wherever there is something in our life that is not conformed to the image of Christ, there is a place where we are incapable of being all God wants us to be with others … a place where our life with others is hindered and limited and restricted in its effectiveness and in its fullness…

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Part 4
: Then They Told What Had Happened on the Road

Part 4 - Experiencing Transformation in Community

Note: As we conclude this eReflections series, we congratulate all those who completed the Life Together in Christ Community Challenge. Our hope is that the way you engage in community will never be the same! If you didn’t participate, but would like to in the future, let us know. That same hour they got up and…

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Part 3: The Nature of the Spiritual Journey

You can also read Part 1 and Part 2 of this eReflections series. Then he said to them, “How foolish you are, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26) If you ask people to…

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Part 2: Welcoming the Stranger

Part 1 of this eReflections series can be found here. Part 3 can be found here. “While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’” —Luke 24: 16,…

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Part 1: The Road Between the Now and the Not-Yet

You can also read Part 2 and Part 3 of this eReflections series. “The Lord is risen! He is risen, indeed!” Luke’s account of Resurrection Sunday includes the story of two dazed and distraught disciples traveling along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It was Sunday, the third day of the most traumatic weekend of their lives, and they…

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Practicing Lent: Ash Wednesday as a Way of Entering In

Click for guidance on using the lectionary Lectionary Readings for Ash Wednesday Year B: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 Today is Ash Wednesday—the beginning of the Church’s observance of the Lenten season.  At some point throughout this day, many of us will experience the symbolic gesture of receiving the…

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Preparing for Lent – Returning to God with All My Heart

Lent

Click for guidance on using the lectionary Lectionary Readings for Ash Wednesday Year B: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 “‘And yet even now,’ says the Lord, ‘return to me with all your heart . . .’” – Joel 2:12 This year Ash Wednesday comes early! Whether we feel ready…

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Leadership that is Transforming or Deforming?

For the last few weeks I have been pondering what one journalist calls “The Painful Lessons of Mars Hill Church.” For those who may not be familiar, Mars Hill is a mega, multi-site church in Seattle whose high profile pastor, Mark Driscoll, resigned in October amid “an avalanche of allegations, ranging from charges of bullying, to…

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Reveal: Finding God in the Ordinary

Epiphany

Click for guidance on using the lectionary. Epiphany of the Lord: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14; Ephesians 3:1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 “The incredible gift of the ordinary! Glory comes streaming from the table of daily life.” – Macrina Wiederkehr Today, in the rhythm of the church year, we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany—the manifestation of…

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