• Margaret Benefiel

    • Margaret became Shalem's executive director in July 2015. Prior to coming to Shalem, she ran her own consulting, speaking, training, and coaching business, Executive Soul, helping leaders and organizations nurture their souls and express their deepest values institutionally. At the same time, she taught as adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological School in the area of contemplative leadership. She holds a B.A. in History from Princeton University, an M.A. in Mathematics from Portland State University, an M.A. in Theology from Earlham School of Religion, and a PhD in Spirituality from Catholic University of America. She has written extensively on various aspects of contemplative leadership and spirituality at work, including Crisis Leadership, The Soul of Higher Education; The Soul of Supervision; The Soul of a Leader: Finding Your Path to Fulfillment and Success; and Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations.

Good Friday, Scapegoating, and American Politics

Jesus, a victim of scapegoating, understood all too well its origin and its outcome.  From the “Hosannas” of Palm Sunday to the “Crucify him!” of a few days later, Jesus witnessed the fears of the human heart and how easily those fears turn to blame.  Good Friday marks the ultimate scapegoating, the crucifixion of Jesus […]

March 03, 2024 by Margaret Benefiel 8 Comments

Impermanent Leadership

I recently spent several days at the beach. As I watched the waves come in and go out, I was reminded of the impermanence of all things. Mighty waves crash against the shore and immediately lose their form and power. Sand castles, carefully constructed, disappear in one crash of a wave. At the same time […]

January 01, 2024 by Margaret Benefiel 6 Comments

Living with Joy: Spiritual Companions Across the Centuries

When I first encountered St. Francis of Assisi, I was struck by many similarities in our situations despite the 800 years separating us. He lived in a time of war, displacement of peoples, injustice, prejudice, religious strife, and illness, to name a few. Shaken to its core by political and religious conflict, his society had […]

November 11, 2023 by Margaret Benefiel

Fifty Years of Longing

Fifty years ago, Tilden Edwards gathered a small group of people who longed to go deeper in prayer, seeking to recover the Christian contemplative tradition. As they met and prayed, they discovered that God longed for them as much as they longed for God. They were drawn deep into the heart of God. As they […]

September 09, 2023 by Margaret Benefiel 3 Comments

Introducing Vision 2025: Our Ongoing Hope

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.”— Habakkuk 2:2 Dear Beloveds, Our hearts leapt when we encountered Shalem – we were changed. For Margaret this happened in the 1980s, for Jackson in the 2010s. Both of us, like many of you, encountered […]

January 01, 2023 by Margaret Benefiel

3 Leadership Lessons St. Francis Taught Me From His Failures

Like all of us, St. Francis scored some wins and some losses when it came to leadership. And like all of us, Francis didn’t always know in advance which approach to leadership would prove effective. Francis’ failures can prove just as instructive as his successes. As I reflect on Francis’ life, three lessons in leadership […]

October 10, 2021 by Margaret Benefiel 6 Comments

Living in Liminal Space

What a week! Since last Friday, we have seen two pivotal razor-close Senate elections in Georgia, the certification of the electoral college vote for President, and the specter of violent rioters descending on the U.S. Capitol. In the past few weeks, I’ve been reflecting on living in liminal space and that reflection has illuminated the […]

January 01, 2021 by Margaret Benefiel 5 Comments

Learning the New Song

The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out. It has long ago been learned by heart so that now it repeats itself over and over, bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit… I will sing a new song. As difficult as it is, I must learn the new […]

November 11, 2020 by Margaret Benefiel 7 Comments

Three Leadership Lessons from John Woolman

In this time of multiple pandemics and many crises, I struggle with how to relate to those with whom I disagree. How do I find the wisdom to interact in a loving way; how do I speak my truth so they might hear? I find the eighteenth-century American Quaker John Woolman inspiring and instructive for […]

September 09, 2020 by Margaret Benefiel 1 Comment

Roots of Love and Fruits of Imagination: Three Examples for our Time

As I write this, protests rock the U.S. and protesters call for justice. The protests rightly draw our attention to the more than 400 years of racism and white supremacy, and the vast majority of protesters are peaceful. Violence and looting have also erupted, and the media often gives far more attention to such cases […]

June 06, 2020 by Margaret Benefiel