"What did you go out there to the desert to look at? Were you just spiritual tourists gawking at the latest guru? Did you think you were going to see a smooth-talking, well-dressed leader, get a little charge, and leave your life unchanged?"
Advent is a good time to examine our spiritual motivations, what is it we are truly yearn for, why we engage or disengage from spiritual community. It is so easy to become disenchanted with church and clergy, to expect little so we’re not disappointed - or to expect too much. Today, let's do a little inventory. When we can name our expectations, we can better manage them.
What are your expectations of your spiritual community?
When you are disappointed or disaffected, what is the cause?
What are your expectations of your spiritual leaders?
As you name these truths, ask how you want to respond. One way, I hope, is by praying regularly for your community and your clergy - they are a part of you, and you of them.
In some ways, the role of spiritual leaders can be described in the words Jesus used about John, "This is the one about whom it is written, 'See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'"
Clergy can be messengers of God's Word, God's love, God's call and invitation. At our best, we help to prepare your spiritual way, and help you walk it, without blocking your path. The more clarity you have about how you want to grow in faith, the better your leaders can help prepare the way. And whatever that “way” looks like, it should lead to Jesus.
The more you grow Christ-ward, the more you can help your pastor walk the way of truth and grace - and then our congregations truly become spiritual communities.