To become a doulos of Christ, it all begins with an effort to grow in biblical literacy and accountability to God's instruction. From there, cultivating watchfulness and caring for "the least of these." As a doulos in God's household, Dn. Sean Reid reminds us to lead as one under authority and to practice offering the "first fruits" to the Lord who so graciously provides. Dn. Sean is owner of Arrowhead Coaching and Facilitation Solutions and serves the St. Maria of Paris Mission in Hamilton, ON.
Hollie Benton 0:07
This is Hollie Benton with the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative. This is the Doulos podcast a production of the Ephesus School Network. With me today I have a special guest, Father Deacon Sean Reid. He is a leadership development coach. He owns Arrowhead Coaching & Facilitation Solutions in Ontario. He's from Grimsby, Ontario. And we're so excited to have you with us, Dn. Sean. I'm just thrilled with the way things are turning out. We've already delivered about four workshops at this time. And we've got three others scheduled coming up. And it's very exciting. The parishes seem to be really excited about the foundations of servant leadership and these disciplines of servant leadership. So that's what I'd like to discuss today is this area of disciplines of servant leadership. This was a big contribution you made to our program. I would just like to give an overview of those disciplines, just one by one. So welcome, Dn. Sean.
Dn. Sean Reid 1:17
Thank you. Thanks, Hollie. It's a joy to be here. And it's been a joy to serve with you in this capacity with the Doulos program. By God's grace, we're creating something that is of use to the Orthodox Church in North America, and it's been delightful to have this chance to journey with you on it.
Hollie Benton 1:35
Thank you. So getting started, we're looking at the principles of servant leadership. The foundation of that triangle is Holy Scripture, which equips the work of the body, through Romans: "We who are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves." What is one of the first disciplines of servant leadership?
Dn. Sean Reid 1:56
The bedrock principle of the doulos model. It starts with Scripture itself, and the biblical command. Not surprisingly, the first discipline of an effective leader in the Orthodox Church and really, any Orthodox Christian is biblical literacy and accountability to the Scriptures itself. So really, how closely are we... do we know our scriptures? How much, how regularly are we returning to the Scriptures to learn and to hear what God has tell us through His Word? How much are we actually holding ourselves accountable to that biblical command? We know God is going to hold us accountable to it, how much are we, as leaders and as Christians holding ourselves accountable to that word? So that's really where it all starts.
Hollie Benton 2:50
Yep, is just picking up that Bible and reading it and learning the Word. Because if we don't know the Word, it's really hard to be held accountable to it.
Dn. Sean Reid 2:59
Yeah. And you know, I was thinking about this recently, the leadership world in particular is drowning in self-help books and so called gurus from every corner, and folks with ideas and concepts that they might claim are original, but may or may not be. We in the church actually have all the leadership guru we need. All the wisdom we need. Just start by reading the epistles, looking at the model of Paul, looking at the model of Christ, looking at the model of some of the prophets and godly leaders in the Old Testament. We have the resources as Christian leaders that we need in the Scriptures. And so that's why turning first back to the Scriptures is really the place where we should begin.
Hollie Benton 3:52
I love to tell this story about my husband in his youth, he decided to read Paul's epistle to the Romans. And, you know, he just thought, "Oh, I'll take notes. And I'll try to outline the Apostle Paul's argument. And just kind of summarize points he's making as he goes" And so he did this exercise. And when he got through to the end, he slapped his head and just like, "How did I ever call myself a Christian before? I had no idea what the Apostle Paul was even saying in the book of Romans" and once he really grew in biblical literacy, and held himself accountable to understanding what Romans was actually saying to it, he started to see the depth and breadth of what Scripture had to offer. So we read Scripture, we hold ourselves accountable to what it says, but there's the work of the body, the Lord call some to be apostles and some teachers, I know that you thought about one of those disciplines as far as the work of the body and you suggested that we really cultivate watchfulness when it comes to the work of the body. Say a little bit more about that.
Dn. Sean Reid 5:03
At the core of that is, if we are indeed holding ourselves accountable to the Scripture, then we actually need to go through that exercise of being attentive to ourselves. And this applies also to the parish being attentive as a parish--as a parish leadership team--to how we are measuring up to the standard that's presented to us in the Gospel to the standard that's presented to us in the Scriptures. That's not something that just happens by accident. That requires some intentionality. It requires some thinking and some planning, certainly at the parish level, but also at the personal level, really being attentive and asking ourselves and taking time out to actually ask ourselves, how am I doing in terms of what the Scriptures are calling me to be? When the Scriptures bring this call onto the body of Christ to begin to manifest its command in our lives, we then have to be creating in ourselves a discipline of actually checking in to see are we actually doing what we're called to do. And so that's at the root of this discipline of cultivating watchfulness. It's not something that we just instantly have, it's not a habit that we can instantly begin, we actually have to plan for we actually have to take some steps of intentionality to begin to cultivate that discipline.
Hollie Benton 6:25
And what I love about the Scripture itself is it actually cultivates watchfulness in us: "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord." The words of Scripture itself, produces watchfulness in our own lives if if we hearken to it and we submit to it. In serving as a doulos, as a slave of Christ, it's not about what I want to do, and the special gifts I bring to the table, it's really thinking about what has my Master called me to do. And so you've added a discipline as leading as one under authority. This is remarkable, and something that we really don't often hear in the secular world in terms of how we lead and who do we serve. So say a little bit more about leading as one under authority.
Dn. Sean Reid 7:15
This is my favorite of the disciplines and also the most difficult in many ways, because and I think also the most distinct from, as you mentioned, Hollie, a lot of the secular wisdom, we have this idea that, you know, leadership is some status that we can rush and attain to. And once we're there, you know, we're the king of the world. That is precisely not what the Scriptures tell us is leadership. Not only the Scriptures, but the entire, the liturgical life of the church points to this every, every aspect of the church points to the fact that we are all under authority. We're all first and foremost, under the authority of God, we are under the authority of His Word. But even regardless of the station we occupy in the Church, whether we are bishops and patriarchs, or we are working in the kitchen or reading or the deacon or the priest, or the greeter, or the choir master. We are all under authority. We are under authority in the parish, we are under the authority of our rector. The rector is under the authority of his Bishop. We all are under authority. The priest is also not only under the authority of the bishop, but also, in a spiritual way, under the authority of the people themselves. There's a reason why at ordination when the deacon or the priest is brought up for ordination, he is forced to bow first to the Holy of Holies and to the bishop, and then to the people, because there is an obedience and there is an authority to the people as well. So all of us are under authority. And as soon as we begin to realize that as leaders that has profound implications for how we how we lead.
And I'll just share one other thought, Hollie, I was just reading the book of Philemon, this morning. And if you want to see an example of what leadership under authority looks like, look at the way Paul talks to Philemon. He doesn't say with this heavy hand, "You need to do this, you need to do this because I'm the boss." He actually invites Philemon to be obedient to him and with great humility, and great love oozing out of the text of that of that letter. He simply opens the door for Philemon to be obedient, because Paul himself recognizes that he himself is also under authority. And by the way, under the same authority that Philemon is under.
Hollie Benton 10:09
The Apostle Paul calls himself "a slave of Christ." Of course, Onesimus is a household slave in the house of Philemon. But Paul reminds them that, you know, with respect to God, they were all slaves in his household. And so there's a certain duty or obligation to care for the least of these, which is the next discipline. Say a little bit about caring for the least of these, when we talk about leading as one under authority, like we heard from the Apostle Paul and Onesimus and Philemon, we all serve one master, it's a really leveling concept. There's not a strict pecking order, so to speak, you know, we all recognize we're all leveled and God's household, it becomes a lot easier to care for the least of these because we're all in need of mercy, we've been shown mercy. And we need to extend that to others. Say a little bit more about caring for the least of these?
Dn. Sean Reid 11:05
Well, when you think about, then what is it that we have a duty to do? What is it that we're called to do? It's to love. And what is love? Well, the Scriptures are very clear about what love looks like. "When did we see you, Lord, whatever you did, for the least of these you did for me." That is at summary level, what we are called to do in our work as leaders is to care for the least of these. Now, one of the interesting things about this is that is not purely an economic manifesto. This is not purely a political statement. We're not talking about "the least of these" simply as the economically poor, perhaps, although that is certainly part of it. But the least of these are around us, in many ways. We can be in the richest neighborhood in the richest country in the world. And there are the least of these, there are still the marginalize there are still the suffering. And for leaders, for example, on our teams, if we look around the table of our teams, there are the least of these there as well. For sure, as a church, there is no question that we have a clear mandate to care for the least of these being those who are suffering the poor, the oppressed. In my own mission, in a community where there is significant refugee population, it's obvious that God has placed our parish in this setting, so that we could be attentive to those... the needs of that particular community. It is equally true that as leaders, as we sit around the parish council table, caring for the least of these is also: is every voice around this table, getting the opportunity to contribute? Is every voice around this table being supported in their ability to articulate what they really want to what they really want to say? Is every voice around this table, feeling like this is a place where without intimidation or without consequence, they can be authentic, and share, you know, their deepest held views about these very important contributions? That is the very same caring for the least of these, it's just in a different context.
Hollie Benton 13:29
And what I'm hearing from you and that, that it's not necessarily about who we're ministering to, but allowing and inviting the participation of active ministry, when it comes to operating as a body of Christ, giving room to everyone at the table to participate in that ministry.
Dn. Sean Reid 13:46
It's just being attentive to the Other in whatever context we're in.
Hollie Benton 13:51
Dn. Sean Reid 13:51
That's really what it's about.
Hollie Benton 13:52
And the fifth discipline listed here is offering the first fruits. Say, say a little bit more about that.
Dn. Sean Reid 14:01
Regardless of where we are in our station in the Church, as we respond to the biblical mandate, as we are attentive to how we are responding to that as we are responding in duty, out of love, not love as a feeling but love is the action of self sacrifice, and caring for the least of these. We are to do so in the Scriptures, again, are quite clear about this. We're to do so with our best, with our first fruits with everything that we can muster, to bring forward because this is for the glory of God. You know, and there's so many examples Cain and Abel and other examples where it matters that we bring our best that we bring our first fruits to whatever responsibility we have in parish life, in leadership, in family life, in our work lives, in all things we are bringing our best for the God's glory. And so that's really what's the spirit behind the concept of offering our first fruits.
Hollie Benton 14:59
And what I love to about this notion of first fruits is that the Lord has already provided it through His Holy Scripture, he's already provided the fruits of mercy. And he extends that mercy to us. And we bring that mercy and offer it back by caring for the least of these and knowing which master we serve the One who's already provided the mercy that we can extend and share to others. I love how it kind of goes full circle where the Lord has already provided the fruit. Just keep that in mind that He's already provided it and offer it back in whatever way you can as you serve and lead.
Dn. Sean Reid 15:36
Well, and sometimes that act of offering is intimidating. Sometimes offering our first fruits is a frightening and intimidating thing that requires faith. And that requires trust in the Gospel and trust in the assurances that God has provided us in his Scripture. You could zero in on the word "first". But there's also this word of "offering", you actually have to then go and do something. So that's where we're called to, to trust God, and to step out in faith and do what the Scripture calls us to do.
Hollie Benton 16:09
Beautiful. Thank you so much for being with us. We're excited to have you be a part of the Orthodox Christian Leadership Initiative and having you participate as a parish health coach and really starting to work and offer and contribute your first fruits as a parish health coach into the parishes that we're serving across North America. Thank you, Dn. Sean.
Dn. Sean Reid 16:33
Thanks, Hollie. This was fun.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai