Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me

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10/03/2013

Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me

 

By Michelle Angalet

Originally posted Sept. 25, 2013, at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog. Republished with permission of the author.

Last week I attended the Day 1 Prayer Breakfast at 2nd Ponce de Leon Baptist Church in Atlanta. Our morning prayer was led by the Rt. Rev. Robert Wright, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

He led us in an a cappella singing of the old hymn, “Spirit of the Living God.” We sang the first verse through a couple of times, and it felt good. Here are the words:

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me;
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
I’ve thought a lot about what Bishop Wright said that morning. Maybe it’s partly because we are preparing in the synod office for the Southeastern Leadership Convocation next week at Lutheridge. Or maybe it’s because what he said was good food for thought. Maybe it’s the Spirit working. Most likely it’s all three. I’d like to share what I heard at that prayer breakfast last week, because good food is meant to be shared.

Bishop Wright said that he thought about this hymn as he was reflecting on what it meant to be a leader in the church these days. They were words that humbled and grounded him in who and whose he was.

They were also words, he said, that reminded him that he wasn’t born a leader. Leaders, he reflected, were those who heard God’s invitation to be part of the work of the kingdom and then went and lived, both out and into, their baptisms.

He talked about what leadership activities, versus “authority,” look like, as lived out in the church. One of those activities, in particular, has stuck with me. Bishop Wright said that effective leaders in the church, among other things, mobilize others, especially those we would rather avoid, in doing the work that God has called the church to do. In doing so, the work of the church is given back to the people. It is not retained as “the work” of church leaders.

Too often in the church we confuse authority with leadership. We lead by the grace of God, equipped by the Holy Spirit to do so. And it is under Jesus’ authority, not our own, that we lead. And leaders in the church aren’t only those who have been granted the authority of our denominations or religious bodies to serve in defined public leadership roles.

All in Christ’s church are called to be leaders, for the sake of the world, when we choose to live out and into our baptisms. Today, as the church, we have incredible and limitless opportunities to reach out to those we just might rather avoid — those in other denominations, those of different faiths, those who do not look like us, in whatever form that may be — and engage with them in discussions about how we are being called to work together for the sake of the world. I’m not entirely sure what that looks like yet. But as I pray for God’s Spirit to melt me, mold me, fill me and use me, I know that I am being called into deeper conversation with those in Christ’s church about what this means. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.


Find a link to Michelle Angalet’s entry at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog at Lutheran Blogs.

You might also want to read:
Planting the seeds for leadership
Charismatic organizations, charismatic leaders
Lifting up a leader for a new church

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