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Church leaders urged to think and act like Jesus

Bishop Minerva Carcaño delivers the keynote address to the 2008 United Methodist School of Congregational Development.  UMNS photos by Cassandra Heller,
Board of Global Ministries.

By Linda Green*
Aug. 4, 2008 | ORLANDO, Fla. (UMNS)

Christian leaders attending the 2008 United Methodist School of Congregational Development were urged to live and act like Jesus Christ as they seek to transform lives by expanding and revitalizing the church.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, delivering her keynote address on "the spiritual life of the Christian leader," also urged attentive listening to the movement of God and surrendering self to impact the church and the world.

"The spiritual life of a Christian leader is a life that thinks and acts like Jesus," Carcaño said during the July 31-Aug. 5 event sponsored by the United Methodist boards of Global Ministries and Discipleship.

She spoke to 300 people in Orlando and 150 people watching by satellite telecast in Grand Rapids, Mich. The two sites were linked for several plenary addresses and services of worship throughout the six-day event.

The School for Congregational Development trains new church pastors and includes educational tracks for bishops, district superintendents, conference staff, pastors and church teams interested in starting new churches and revitalizing existing congregations.

'Something about that name'

Carcaño juxtaposed the teachings of her grandmother, which helped her become who she is today, with guidance from the Apostle Paul on relying on Jesus Christ. Paul, in his writings from jail, focused on the joy that comes from the name and presence of Jesus. Carcaño asked the crowd to stand and sing the hymn that declares "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! There's just something about that name."

The Rev. Bill Poland of Iowa worships during the Orlando session.

Paul, she said, was able to keep his focus in the midst of spiritual confusion, physical affliction and alienation from family, culture and society. He suffered for the sake of serving God whom he had come to know through Jesus.

"Those in power had imprisoned Paul, attempting to chain his heart and mind and beat him down into submission to their will. But Paul knew that their kingdoms would pass away," Carcaño said.

Paul also knew that proclaiming the name of Jesus would put Christians at odds with the world, but he admonished them to "do it anyway" and "let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus."

Christian leaders, she said, are responsible for holding one another accountable for having the mind of Christ. "Do we dare have the mind of Christ, thinking and acting as he did," she asked. "Jesus knew that getting us to that place of spiritual leadership with him would be no easy feat … so he becomes one of us" in humility and obedience. Knowing that spiritual leaders struggle to be who they are called, Jesus would "show us how."

"We have no better teacher, no better guide, no better shepherd, than Christ Jesus who calls us forth out in the world to live as he lived, as spiritual leaders grounded in him, that the world may be transformed," she said.

Servant leadership

Carcaño stressed that Christian leaders who think and act like Jesus are not always in prominent positions in the church, but rather are sometimes grounded in servant leadership. She cited a young pastor in the mountains of the Philippines who began a new church for people living in the higher elevations and a woman who washes the feet of people at the Mexican border.

"When serving each other is ignored, our Christian living—and even more so our Christian leadership—becomes a sham," she said.

The bishop urged Christian leaders not to get caught up in the "self-care" movement that reflects the priorities of a narcissistic society. "Self care," she said, "is pretty common sense. ... Take care of your life, for it is a gift from God. ... Sleep, exercise, eat right and spend time with your loved ones."

The importance of our lives is found in our relationship with God who created us for holy purposes, she said. "We find the significance of our lives ... through relationships of love with others. In knowing that we belong to Christ Jesus who has redeemed and reconciled us with God and with each other, we are enabled to respond to both the joy and the demands of love."

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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