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In the early Spring of 2005, I was 48 years old, and I had just come out of the most humiliating season I had ever encountered. More was to follow, but when I peered back over my shoulder, I wasn’t all that happy about what was behind me. There were bright spots (my wife had my back, my kids turned out better than they were raised, people that Patti and I were discipling were growing by leaps and bounds, and we had lots of friends, etc.) but, all in all, I didn’t want to continue on the same path that I had traveled in my previous ministry. I didn’t know what I wanted it to look like—only that it had to be something different.

That was about the time my buddy David Johnson in Minnesota introduced me to Richard Rohr. I had been very interested in the Men’s Movement back in the day, but none of that stuff captured me like Rohr’s teachings. I was the perfect age to ingest his material in Adam’s Return.

adams_returnI’ve heard a lot of people quote Rohr’s ideas about spiritual initiation, but I seldom believe those who pass on the words genuinely grasp the real core of the teaching. It’s easy to lose the purpose if your agenda is only to impress others with the chill bump of those five principles.

There is shock value in Rohr’s paradigm about spiritual initiation, but it requires a lot of integrity to set up the teaching in a way that genuinely exudes and conveys the very essence of the rite of passage. In other words, the Elders can’t exclude themselves from the truths of initiation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite! As I said, the goal isn’t to shock and impress. The goal is to tell the brutal truth up front. If the candidate buys in up front, transforms his passion and direction, the purpose can always be revisited for the rest of his life. The mission becomes who he is as a person. Then, and only then, does he help ignite the next generation because he’s lived the whole cycle of initiation in his lifetime.

If you’re wondering, you can’t just outsource Elders to “do the deed.” Elders have to live and die with the truths of the initiation within themselves—no matter what it costs them. By the way, that isn’t a sexy gig. Glowing in the dark usually won’t allow for such nameless, faceless humility. As I mentioned, it takes a lot of integrity and stellar character to remain focused at keeping things that simple. That probably has more to do with why we don’t have a well-established initiation process in the first world. Our culture won’t stand for it.

Of all places, I stumbled across a reading at Christmas that reminded me that mankind (especially ministry types) faces the same temptations that Jesus faced in the wilderness. That first temptation that Christ faced was a challenge brought by Satan to turn stones into bread (Matthew 4:3). Rohr likens our “bread” to our addiction to being effective, relevant, successful and noticed. It’s difficult to trust someone who takes those things for themselves while they’re doing ministry—yet, the temptation is very real. That’s also the reason why Jesus faced that temptation first. He wanted to help move us from what we want to what we really need. Jesus usually refused to be relevant for His own sake. He always pushed people to go deeper for what they really needed. “Man cannot live by bread alone.” (Matthew 4:4) It really is that simple. I can’t be reminded enough of that teaching.

I’ll try to conclude my thoughts next week.

Love you all,


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Daniel Hubbard
    February 24, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Thank you for your post. I left ministry and stumbled upon Richard Rohr’s teachings that prepared me for re-entrance into ministry. Keep up the good work!

    • February 24, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      I’m fairly certain the friar has helped millions get back to homebase. Thanks for writing!

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