On Becoming a Contemplative Activist

Bending TreeOn Becoming a Contemplative Activist

“The Activist will often get involved no matter the personal cost. Wanting to be liked is not as high a priority as standing up for the widow and orphan in their distress (James 1:27). The Activist is wired by God to courageously come against evil and rally for the good. Although God commands all of us to hate evil and take action when we encounter injustice (Jeremiah 7:5-7), the Activist is literally energized and rejuvenated by this.  She sees the good and upright heart of God and cannot avoid proclaiming it.

Often a Prophetic Voice. Compelled to challenge apathy and the status quo. Surprised when others do not see the problem with equal intensity. May be unpopular, leaving her feeling lonely, misunderstood, and isolated, like Elijah the Prophet. When exhausted, the Activist can even believe her zeal is greater than God’s.

Her vision, tenacity and drive keep her moving forward without a lot of affirmation; indeed, she is often able to progress even in the midst of antagonism. She is a truth-teller, justice-carrier. She sees the world around her through a keen lens, and her heart cannot rest with the injustice she sees.”

“In contemplative prayer, your whole view of the world changes from fear to connection, because you do not live inside your fragile and encapsulated self anymore. In meditation, you are moving from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being driven to being drawn.

The Divine offers us contemplative eyes, even while we are also called to prophetic and critical involvement in the pain and sufferings of our world–both at the same time.  Allowing the Divine to hold us, while we offer our presence and intention to the world.”

Connection to Enneagram 8, The Challenger

 Eights are often self-confident, strong, and assertive. Protective, resourceful, straight-talking, and decisive, but can also be ego-centric and domineering. Eights feel they must control their environment, especially people, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. Eights typically have problems with their tempers and with allowing themselves to be vulnerable. At their Best: self- mastering, they use their strength to improve others’ lives, becoming heroic, magnanimous, and inspiring.”

Spiritual Growth Invitations for Enneagram Type Eights (and others)

  • “It may against the grain, but act with self-restraint. You show true power when you forbear from asserting your will with others, even when you could. Your real power lies in your ability to inspire and uplift people. You are at your best when you take charge and help everyone through a crisis. Few will take advantage of you when you are caring, and you will do more to secure the loyalty and devotion of others by showing the greatness of your heart than you ever could by displays of raw power.
  • It is difficult for Eights, but learn to yield to others, at least occasionally. Often, little is really at stake, and you can allow others to have their way without fear of sacrificing your power, or your real needs. The desire to dominate everyone all the time is a sign that your ego is beginning to inflate—a danger signal that more serious conflicts with others are inevitable.
  • Remember that the world is not against you. Many people in your life care about you and look up to you, but when you are in your fixation, you do not make this easy for them. Let in the affection that is available. Doing this will not make you weak but will confirm the strength and support in yourself and your life. Also remember that by believing that others are against you and reacting against them, you tend to alienate them and confirm your own fears. Take stock of the people who truly are on your side and let them know how important they are to you.”

Contemplative Exercise for the Activist

“Read: In Mark 6:34, we see in Jesus Christ one of the greatest motivations behind activism: “When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

Reflect: The most mature, effective Activist of all time was One who was moved with compassion. Ponder how compassion must be the underlying motivation for all you do as an Activist.

Respond: How are you moved by compassion in the causes you champion?  What moves you?

Record: How did you take action this week? What follow-up do you need to do in the future?”



What’s Your God Language: Connecting with God through Your Unique Spiritual Temperament, by Dr. Myra Perrine.

Contemplative Activist articles from Father Richard Rohr and the Center for Action and Contemplation

Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer, by Richard Rohr



Forty Days on Being an Enneagram 8

If you would like to chat further, please feel free to reach out to me at laura.lies@streamsgrace.com

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