Gene Maynard


“I see more clearly than ever that I am on a spiritual adventure that has been lighting me up. The source of the adventure has been a deep hunger to discover God, not merely as an idea to be studied, but as a Living Presence with whom I could enjoy real communion.” Gene Maynard
Ian Rand tells us about the power of the stories we tell about ourselves. We love these mythological stories that describe who we are and how we overcame great odds to achieve our success. For example, if you are in Silicon Valley, everyone knows about “The Garage” where Bill Hewlett and David Packard purportedly pursued the dream and idea that became their company, HP. It is such an iconic story that the garage is even in the National Register of Historic Places. But the story needs an asterisk. Turns out Hewlett and Packard had the help of state-of-the-art labs around them. But we love these mythological stories. There is an Apple garage story. A Google garage story. Check out almost any church website—there is a church garage story. But here is the problem: these stories never tell the whole story. Instead, they get polished, formed, and retrofitted to help us identify with a mythological character who has the answers and who can give us hope.
I tell you about Rand and Hewlett and Packard’s garage to say I’ve thought a lot about my story. I can feel the temptation to create a mythological story that would try to convince Upper Room members and Upper Room website visitors to trust and follow the discoveries I, and our Upper Room community, are making. That would be sweet. Maybe then the Upper Room would be put on the National Register of Historic Places to mark the site of a discovery or a practice that changed spirituality and life as we know it.
But the truth is a lot rawer. I have struggled to get the power and freedom of God down deep into the roots of my life. I have struggled to believe and trust that my significance is connected to who I am, not what I do. Both I and the Upper Room have struggled to gain freedom from unhealthy ambitions to be bigger, better, and more. The struggle for freedom has been intense and is still ongoing. But slowly, victories are being won. I’m becoming more at ease with who I am. I am seeking less validation from the things I do or the community I serve. The church is growing to love difficult things: vulnerability, grace, forgiveness, authenticity, etc. In small and big ways, you can see the life of God breaking out in us.
I have taken up valuable space and moments to tell you the above. It was important to me to tell you that the stories we tell about ourselves, and how we tell them, matter. I am learning to pay attention to that story, trying to resist the mythological version of the story to tell you in direct ways who I understand myself to be as I experience more of the grace and deep soul-friendship that comes from communion with Jesus.

Not native, I spent the first 18 years of life on the Nez Perce reservation, graduating from the reservation high school. Those formative years created a love for stories that are not my own.
A lot! I read stories. I read people and rooms. I read moments. I read compasses, trails and pathways.
Here are some of the spiritual ancestors I have chosen as guides for the inward and outward journey; I am drinking deeply from their wisdom and am grateful for their influence in my life: Thomas Kelly, Madame Guyon, Henri Nouwen, Teresa of Avila, Frank Laubach, Brother Lawrence, Julian of Norwich, John Woolman, Andrew Murray, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ralph Turnbull, Elton Trueblood.
I studied with a Quaker theologian — Elton Trueblood — for a dozen years. He charged me nothing and I earned no diplomas or certificates. But I learned like never before! I earned a MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary. I earned a doctorate in theology/spiritual formation from Princeton Theological Seminary.
A spiritual formation newsletter. Curriculum. I am writing a book on spiritual formation: Trekking: An Invitation to Spiritual Transformation that should be available by summer, 2023.
I guide the Upper Room, a spiritual formation Christian church and community.
I guide a doctor of ministry program in spiritual formation and leadership.
I guide hikes in the mountains, silent retreats, and journeys in the Spirit.
I have drawn together a team of spiritual formation and leadership practitioners and scholars with the mission of creating a spiritual formation center for people who want to go deeper in their experience of God and for pastors who are seeking a different model of ministry than the success-driven attractional model for church. We launched the center in January, 2023. It is called The Compass Center. We have a spiritual formation newsletter available for daily use. We are preparing self-paced online courses in spiritual formation and health community that will be available in 2023. We will be launching a spiritual formation book club in 2023. We will be launching a podcast in spiritual formation by summer, 2023.  
All of these initiatives are to help create the the conversation that will rebuild the church of Jesus in the global north and west.
Souls cannot thrive and grow without a break from strain, hurry and overwork. For now, sabbathing almost always involves hiking and/or backpacking with my wife, Lorri. Below are snaps of sabbaths, left to right: 1) backpacking with Lorri, 2) camping at a high Sierra lake, 3) resting with Lorri in the middle of a multi-week hike, 4) one of our Sabbath trails.

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