Rhythm involves a regular pattern, often in sound or movement. The human body has a rhythm of breathing and walking. We inhale and exhale according to a rhythm. Typically, our gait is consistent. Leadership involves rhythm, too.

The longer you serve a congregation, the more you learn and embrace the patterns of the community. In a college town, you become attuned to the academic and athletic cadence. The university schedule influences the church’s calendar — and often the cash flow.

When you set your pace as a leader, keep in mind that God calls us to pay attention to the rhythm of doing and being. In leadership, doing involves managing the tasks associated with the work. We prepare sermons. We visit the homebound. We lead meetings. We answer emails. Most leaders have a good handle on doing — each week, we faithfully work through the items on our to-do list with high hopes that this will be the week we’ll get them all finished (spoiler alert: probably not).

Being is the work that comes before doing. It makes what we do possible. Excellence in doing must be synchronized with faithful being or we risk emotional exhaustion. Jesus offers a beautiful image of what being means in John 15:4: “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” “Abide” perfectly captures the essence of being. To abide is to dwell, continue or remain. Being happens through prayer, study, meditation, silence and solitude. Being can’t be accomplished quickly. It’s the slow part of leadership when it looks like nothing is happening.

The Lenten season will be here soon. What rhythm will guide your life and ministry?


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Resources

Antidotes to compassion fatigue

By Ed de St. Aubin, Jessica Krukowski and Matthew Evans

Washing hands and prayer

By Jason Byassee

Singing the life-giving song of exhalation

By Gretchen E. Ziegenhals


Before you go…

I’ll wrap up this week’s issue with an excerpt of a prayer in Ted Loder’s ‘Guerillas of Grace’:

“Holy One, there is something I wanted to tell you but there have been errands to run, bills to pay, arrangements to make, meetings to attend, friends to entertain, washing to do…and I forget what it is I wanted to say to you, and mostly I forget what I’m about or why. O God, don’t forget me please, for the sake of Jesus Christ…Amen.”

Connect with me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity

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