Letting Go of False Security

In chapter three of her book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry, Ruth Haley Barton writes about how leaders must give up their false sense of security in order to become godly leaders. Throughout the book she uses Moses as a leadership model. Moses learned through his time with God that the answer to leadership was not the physical power that he had previously used.

She includes a wonderful story from Theophane, a Cistercian monk residing at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO, to further illustrate the point.

I saw a monk working alone in the vegetable garden. I squatted down beside him and said, “Brother, what is your dream?” He just looked straight at me. What a beautiful face he had.

‘I would like to become a monk,” he answered.

“But brother, you are a monk, aren’t you?”

“I’ve been here for 25 years, but I still carry a gun.” He drew a revolver from the holster under his robe. It looked so strange, a monk carrying a gun.

“And they won’t — are you saying they won’t let you become a monk until you give up your gun?”

“No, it’s not that. Most of them don’t even know I have it, but I know.”

“Well then, why don’t you give it up?”

“I guess I’ve had it so long. I’ve been hurt a lot, and I’ve hurt a lot of others. I don’t think I would be comfortable without this gun.”

“But you seem pretty uncomfortable with it.”

“Yes, pretty uncomfortable, but I have my dream.”

“Why don’t you give me the gun?” I whispered. I was beginning to tremble.

He did, he gave it to me. His tears ran down to the ground and then he
embraced me.

Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, pages 55-56

Barton closes the chapter by suggesting that most of us have a gun hidden under the robe of our leadership persona. Most of us have some way of protecting ourselves, some method of making us feel safe, that is inconsistent with the person God is calling us to be. She suggests that we spend time with God in order to identify the gun we carry and have the courage to hand it over.

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