For the week of January 09, 2006

Give Light
By: Bruce Cole
I was walking on the grounds of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. I was supposed to be there to re-fuel for the next leg of my leadership journey but had just hung up the phone after a difficult interaction with a leader from my church back home. This leader and some others were making some serious judgment errors that were hurting me and our church. Angry, I turned to my friend, Paul Ulring, the senior pastor of Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, and said, “Paul, I can’t let people behave this way. I really need to get a spine” (meaning, I need to give these leaders a vivid piece of my mind). Paul smiled and gently counseled, “Yes, Bruce. Spine is good. Just remember to keep your spine attached to your heart.”

Paul was advising me not to sin in my anger and reminding me that a key trait of a good spiritual leader is humility. Spiritual leadership can eat us up sometimes and there will be people who will need a “piece of our mind.” We need to be courageous – to have a spine. However, people will only hear a piece of our mind when it is accompanied by a piece of our heart. There is no replacement for the truth spoken in love. I like the way Mother Teresa put it in her book, “Jesus, the Word to be Spoken”: “Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.” Our responsibility as spiritual leaders is just that: Give light.