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Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

Reflections on Prayer

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Thom Rainer, a prolific Baptist writer and former seminary dean, recently published an article titled “9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Struggle with Prayer.” I’ve thought about the article several times since it appeared about a week ago and decided to record some of those thoughts here. Read the article, then come back here.

In no particular order:

  1. I believe he’s fundamentally correct that many, and perhaps most, church leaders, including Orthodox clergy and laity, struggle with prayer. I know this has been true for me at several points, and I hear of it often from others. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

July 30th, 2013 at 8:30 am

The Orthodox Priesthood: Every Man for Himself?

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This return to blogging after hiatus is occasioned by a simple recollection of experiences as an Orthodox priest. The following are stories from friends and acquaintances. (Really!) Not a one of these is fictitious.

I am familiar with one priest whose parish leadership has repeatedly refused to pay for him to attend diocesan assemblies and pastoral gatherings. The same parish has previously objected to paying housing costs for the priest who is otherwise meagerly compensated.

I am familiar with a second priest in another jurisdiction and diocese whose leadership has done likewise. This parish has also been resistant to structuring parish finances to allow for a gradual shift to full compensation for this priest. (The more I think about this one, I’ve heard this from numerous brother priests.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

June 17th, 2013 at 9:31 am

Spiritual Leadership, Part VI: Next Steps

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[Read the previous section, part V, here.]

Next Steps

In the end, then, we see the various realms of what it is to extend our spiritual leadership, beginning with the recognition that we must not impose a single vision of the “right saint” or the “right spiritual gift” on everyone. We start with ourselves, addressing the clearest examples of our weakness and seeking to bring our own lives under some kind of clear spiritual leadership. We move from there to our families and the intimate web of connections that require us to adjust constantly to the needs therein in order that our wives and our children remain firm in the Christian life. Then on to the parish, and the establishment of trust as the basis for spiritual leadership. Finally, we reach the broader community, that our spiritual leadership bring forth fruit in abundance. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

December 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Spiritual Leadership, Part V: The Community

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[Read the previous section, part IV, here.]


There’s that last circle of influence: community, the realm of people for whom we desire salvation. It is the place where we really should desire our spiritual leadership to obtain the greatest reach. It is frequently overlooked among our Orthodox people. It is quite intertwined with mission and evangelism, for proclaiming the Gospel to the heterodox and the unbeliever and bringing souls under the protective wing of Christ’s Church is the ultimate extension of spiritual leadership.

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, less the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:17-18) St. Paul is not arguing against Holy Baptism here, but to say that his primary work was the proclamation of the Gospel in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

December 28th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Spiritual Leadership, Part IV: The Parish

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[Read the previous section, part III, here.]


The sphere of our spiritual leadership then extends further, to the realm of the parish. Up front, I’ll say that I have no intention of telling others how to lead their parishes. Ultimately, the decisions made by the priest in exercising spiritual leadership over his parish must be made in close consultation with his bishop.

The parish poses a different situation when compared to exercising spiritual leadership over one’s self or over one’s household, and it comes about because the faithful of our parish are there of their own volition. The priest is appointed as the spiritual leader of the parish, but that does not mean that the faithful of the parish will place themselves fully under his leadership in every instance. In practical terms, this means that extending spiritual leadership will require healthy amounts of suasion and trust. The priest who attempts to lead by giving directions accompanied by “because I am the priest” will almost certainly fail. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

November 17th, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Spiritual Leadership, Part III: Family

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[Read the previous section, part II, here.]


Then there’s the matter of spiritual leadership within the family. Of course, I’m speaking mostly to the married clergy here, as that’s what I am familiar with myself.

The married priest lives in a constant tension. The tension can really be boiled down to the competing interests of what we can call the man’s first priesthood – namely his role as husband and father – and his second priesthood handling the Mysteries of God. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

November 7th, 2011 at 11:00 am

The Internet is Not the Problem

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“Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water.” -Luke 8:24

Like many other clergy in the Orthodox Church in America, I’m attending the 16th All-American Council. Also like many other clergy, I attended the first plenary session (or was it an episode of Oprah?) Monday evening. During the question and answer period that followed Metropolitan Jonah’s address and the responses from some members of the Holy Synod, the Internet came in for some rather negative criticism. (See AFR for the audio; time references below are for that version). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

November 1st, 2011 at 6:30 am

Spiritual Leadership, Part II: The First Sphere of Influence

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[Read the previous section, Part I, here.]

Where to begin?

It is axiomatic to say that the spiritual leader does not have the same influence everywhere. We know this intuitively. For the sake of this presentation, I’ll say that our influence is strongest starting with ourselves. From there, we see a still strong influence within our family, particularly among our wives and children, but the addition of wills begins to complicate things, occasionally attempting to frustrate our leadership. Stepping beyond that we reach our parishes, those communities of believers who have willingly placed themselves under our pastoral care, but by no means submitting themselves absolutely or blindly to our leadership. Finally, we reach our community, the broader areas where we live and work, where we are known perhaps as pastors and preachers, but without any kind of acknowledged leadership for all. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

October 29th, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Spiritual Leadership, Part I: Preliminaries

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I’ll be returning to the parish website topic shortly. However, I gave a talk entitled “Spiritual Leadership: Extending Spiritual Influence” at the 2011 ROCOR Western American Diocese pastoral conference earlier this week. I will post successive sections of the presentation in the coming days. Please note that parish clergy (priests in particular) were the intended audience. Your comments are appreciated.

I want to express my thanks to the fine clergy of the Western American Diocese, especially His Eminence, Archbishop Kyrill, for blessing me not only to speak at the clergy conference, but also for inviting me to participate in the rite of revesting the relics of St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco.

Defining the topic

Having introduced myself, I should say that this talk is not about me, but only observations and reflections concerning this topic of spiritual leadership. When I first began preparing this, I struggled somewhat, because, while I am a priest, a preacher, a servant of the Mysteries of God, and an intercessor for those around me, I do not see myself as particularly spiritual. In fact,an attempt to be what I held in my own mind as the image of “the spiritual person” led to a particularly acute period of spiritual malaise, anger, cynicism, and frustration in my own life. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

October 28th, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Leadership Levels: The Problem of Illegitimate Leadership

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“And when Simon [Magus] saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit.” -Acts 8:18-19

In a couple of articles I wrote not too long ago, I took up the five levels of leadership posited by Maxwell in order to discuss them in our own situation. Having done that, I should point out that no definition of leadership was given. There are numerous such definitions, but perhaps the simplest is the equation, “Leadership is influence.” However, this raises the question of whether such leadership (influence) can be had illegitimately. Maxwell’s five levels don’t address it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Fr Basil Biberdorf

July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16 am

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