Soul of Leadership

Soul of Leadership


Rev. Deborah Rundlett is the pastor of the Ridgebury Congregational Church.

Scripture:  Matthew 16:26 (NRSV)

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Reflection: Soul of Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about the soul of leadership lately. It would be so simple if we could just attend to the task at hand. The reality is that for there to be outer transformation, there must first be inner transformation. Without nurture of soul, we cannot lead intentional change for the flourishing of our communities.
But what is soul? Ruth Haley Barton in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership provides a compelling definition:

"When I refer to soul, I am not talking about some ill-defined, amorphous, soft- around-the-edges sort of thing. I am talking about the part of you that is most real—the very essence of you… (before physical form) … the part that will exist after you go into the ground. This is the “you” that exists beyond any role you play, any job you perform, any relationships that seems to define you, or any notoriety or success you may have achieved. It is the part of you that longs for more of (Source)."

Soul, the essence of all of us.
I can attest to the painful reality of what happens when relationship with God and community is displaced by institutional demands. I know firsthand the paradoxical experience of outward success and inward emptiness, the cost of pouring myself out only to wake up drained of compassion and devoid of energy. As leaders we approach our work in response to a deep-rooted sense of call. In the very fiber of our being is the desire to make a difference—the yearning to bear healing and transformation—into the individual, community, and world. In the strength of our passions and gifts, we become leaders charged with the oversight of people, divisions, companies, and communities.
For most of us, the strength of our call carries us through the first five or ten or even fifteen years of our work, until one day we wake up spent and emptied, wondering, “What is it all about?” It is then that the question of soul rises to the surface of consciousness: “What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”


Holy One, I don’t want to lose my soul.
Help me to receive the gift of this pause,
horrific and difficult though it is,
as time to dwell to dwell with you,
that I might remember who and whose I am,
and in that strength serve you
with energy, intelligence, imagination and love.

New Prayer Requests:

We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at

Prayers of Intercession:

  • For those grieving for the more than 115,000 victims of the Covid-19 disease
  • For those grieving or suffering in China after a truck explosion on a highway killed 19 and injured at least 170
  • For endurance in the fight to eradicate racism

Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:

  • For change that comes as a result of people voicing their concern and standing up for principles

Please Pray for the Following SNEUCC Churches:

First Parish Church, UCC, Newbury, MA
Central Congregational Church, New Salem, MA
The New Preston Congregational Church, UCC, New Preston , CT
First Congregational Church Inc., New Milford, CT
First Congregational Church in New London, UCC, New London, CT
Dixwell Avenue United Church of Christ, New Haven, CT
First Church of Christ in New Haven, New Haven, CT
Pilgrim Congregational Church, New Haven, CT
Shalom United Church of Christ, New Haven, CT
United Church on the Green, New Haven, CT
North Congregational Church, New Hartford, CT

This Week in History:

June 15, 1820  (100 years ago) A crowd of 5,000 broke into a Duluth, MN jail and removed 6 black men from their cells to hold a mock trial. Three of them, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie, were "convicted" by the mock court for raping a teenage white girl. The crowd looked on as the three were beaten and hung one by one. Later, photographs of the event were sold as postcards. The event shocked many nationally who were surprised that this happened in a northern state despite similar injustices in other northern cities at the time. An inscription on the modern Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in Duluth reads, "An event has happened upon which it is difficult to speak and impossible to remain silent." This memorial has been a site of several recent Black Lives Matter protests.

“Study the past if you would define the future.”

Debbie Anne Rundlett

Pastor of Ridgebury Congregational Church, CT, and Director of The Meetinghouse, a place to gather, grow and flourish.

June 15, 2020
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