Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored

19Oct/080

Sacrifice to Lead: Monastic Leadership (Lessons from the Medieval Church)

Sacrifice to Lead:
Monastic Leadership (Lessons from the Medieval Church)

In the late ancient and throughout the medieval church, as Christianity was endorsed by the Roman leadership, the movement of people from the cities to places of solitude for spiritual devotion became vogue. While this drained the cities of some of the more devoted Christian followers it may have served to raise up Christian leaders in an environment where religious studies were the complete focus. As church leaders were needed, we find that a large number of influential church leaders, even popes, came from this mass exodus of sanctuary in solitude and celibacy to lead the church.

This curious preservation of leadership and religion in the isolated and restricted environment of the monastery gives rise to a considerable level of contemplation for our current times, for now no one seems to find themselves called to a limited lifestyle for the purpose of spiritual leadership. No one lives a very sacrificial life in preparation or preservation for spiritual purposes. Contrary to the history of church leaders, I don't find many Christian brothers fasting on a regular basis. I don't meet many who preserve themselves from media for the sake of the kingdom. And I've never heard of a person refusing to date or to have children on the basis of preserving themselves for the work of God. Why don't we feel the need to sacrifice?

What does the intensity of study and discipline, and the exclusion of the things of the world afford us? I'm only sure of a few things…mainly that it has a history of delivering noteworthy church leaders. Have a look at some of the monastic church leaders below, via Wikipedia. Perhaps you can help me discover more the secrets of this lifestyle...

Origen, the church father (who also made himself a eunuch for the kingdom) Anthony of Alexandria Jerome Basil the Great (Basil of Caesarea) Gregory of Nyssa Gregory of Nazianzus John Chrysostom Augustine of Hippo Martin of Tours Martin Luther St. Patrick

Thoughts on the sacrificial life:
Sacrifice allows us to intensify our focus on the things that are most important to us…which begs the questions: What should be important to us? What should be of least importance to us?

Things deserving our full attention:
Prayer
Reading and study of Scripture
Life in Authentic Community
Loving and Reaching Outsiders of the kingdom of God

Types of Sacrifice worth considering today: Limiting exposure to media Limiting the things we buy in order to put more money into the kingdom (Budgeting in order to give) Limiting our commitment in order to be committed to serving others Limiting the content of our meals in order to contribute to our health Celibacy, in order to focus on loving the church Not having children in order to focus on spiritual children Stewarding, rather than owning things for the sake of simplicity: cars, homes, and recreational vehicles Living in a communal environment

Scriptures that prompt sacrifice:
Matthew 8:21-22 ( NASB ) 21Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”  22But Jesus said* to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

Matthew 19:21-24 ( NASB ) 21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”  22But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
23And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  24“Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:27 ( NASB ) 27Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

Luke 10:38-42 ( NASB ) 38Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  39She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.  40But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”  41But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  42but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Luke 12:13-15 ( NASB ) 13Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”  14But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”  15Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”

Luke 12:22-34 ( NASB ) 22And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  23“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  24“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!  25“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his £life’s span?  26“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?  27“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  28“But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!  29“And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.  30“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.  31“But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.  32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.  34“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 14:25-33 ( NASB ) 25Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them,  26“If anyone comes to Me, and does not £hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.  27“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  28“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?  29“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him,  30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’  31“Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  32“Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.  33“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

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