Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Need

I read a lot of blogs written by people who have issue with The Church As We Know It. Some have experiences that mirror mine, while others are very different. Stories span the spectrum, from severe spiritual abuse to severe boredom. The common point, however, is that there seems be something in each of these stories that indicate something deeply wanted from The Church As We Know It. Right or wrong, there is desire for a return on the investment in relationship. Uncovering this fact was a good therapeutic point for me in understanding my angst toward The Church As We Know It. James simply states that our conflicts all stem from our desires that battle within us. We want something and can’t have it. I eventually figured out what I wanted and could not have. I longed for permission, but did not get it. Just tell me it’s OK to pursue what was on my heart and I’ll move on. But there was more. I longed for validation. Don’t just tell me “OK, you can do this.” I long to hear that my idea is good. Give me your stamp of approval. But there was more. I longed for blessing. Don’t just tell me “OK, you can do this.” Don’t just say it’s a good thing. Tell me it would be tragic if I didn’t pursue the idea. But there was more. I longed for a name. Don’t just tell me “OK, you can do this.” Don’t just say it’s a good thing. Don’t just tell me it would be tragic if I didn’t pursue the idea. Give me a name; your name. Tell the world I belong to you. It took years to finally believe that what I was wanting and what I was asking for was not bad. In fact, I still long to be validated, blessed and named. The difference now is letting the desires be just that; desire. Instead, I turned them into demands, and I took them to The Church As We Know It for fulfillment. I can’t determine whether or not my desires will come to pass, but I can decide to keep them alive or not.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Speak up, I can't hear you

It is my belief that the key to growing and learning, especially in the realm of faith, is not in gaining the right information, but in asking the right questions. Without the right question, how do I know where to put the right answer? Too bad many of us were taught to fear the question and not invite it. One question I ask often is, “Are we in a season of God’s silence?” I’m intrigued by the period of time between the Old & New Testaments referred to as “The Silent Years.” 400 years without record of what God might have been up to. Faith evidently managed to stay alive, but not much indication of what else. What was it like to live during that time? Were people of faith during The Silent Years aware that God was silent? Did they talk themselves into believing that what they were experiencing was as good as it gets? Did they eventually lower their standards for the miraculous, no longer looking for something that only God could do and start calling lesser actions great? I think I am less apt to credit God on certain outcomes now that really seem like good fundraising or just good leadership. I was at a wedding yesterday held in a brand new church facility. All around the building there were signs and posters referring to how God provided miraculously for the money to build the new structure. People seemed genuinely excited that God was doing something on their behalf. I don’t want to rain on that parade. Trust me, I’m not trying to be cynical, or even disbelieving. I am not a pessimist. I only want to make sure I am giving credit where credit is due. If God is doing miracles today, you’d think it would attract a little more attention, you know, kind of like Jesus did when he turned water into wine, or stuck a new set of eyeballs back in a guy’s skull. To me, there is a danger of not acknowledging that God just might be silent. We run the risk of forgetting what it’s like when He actually does do something great. I’m glad that Faith will flourish, even in the darkest, most silent of times.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Perspective

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, especially in the area of leadership, but I have learned a few things along the way, some of them in the last two months. Here’s what I’m finding. Depending on who or what you read, you will find exhaustive work has been done on the subject of leadership and which qualities are required to be a good leader. It won’t take long to peruse the shelves of a Barnes & Noble or public library and find a book or research study out there to support your belief in charisma or vision or dedication as the most important leadership quality. But there is one quality I would vote as number one today. For any leader, perspective is indispensable. Take this simple drawing for example.
You likely learned about this drawing in grade school art class, when you were taught how to draw a horizontal line a third of the way down the page followed by two angled lines down from the center of that line, creating the basis for drawing a road toward the horizon. Your teacher referred to this as perspective. Perspective is a means of seeing, even though the picture may not be complete yet.
It’s the reason you are a leader. You are drawing the picture. Your people need you to keep reminding them that they are not looking at a stickman without a head, or a tall teeter totter or a letter K lying on its side. They need you to keep saying, “It’s a road.” To do this, you as the leader must keep yourself convinced that it’s a road.
It’s easy to lose perspective as a leader. Fatigue, conflict, and even success can cloud the mind and distort the original picture. Charisma and personality are fine qualities, but a charismatic personality without perspective is destined to be an ineffective leader.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

What was that all about?

I’ve embraced the name Watchman spoken to me years ago. As the name suggests, I am as one who stands on the wall and stares into the night. I watch for movement. I try and interpret what I see, regardless of how unclear it might be. Right now I see a lot of confusion. I read a handful of blogs of people who have left the Church As We Know It. Whether their reasons are spiritual abuse or just plain disillusionment, all have a similar theme of looking back and evaluating what in the world they were a part of. They question themselves, often feeling shameful or stupid for being so na├»ve. I see this because I’ve done the same thing. I was a leader in the Church As We Know It for a long time. I was considered an expert in some regards. I led what is commonly referred to as worship. I wrote songs, lots of them, that many people seemed to enjoy and tell me they were their favorites. I felt pretty confident in this role. I had a secure sense of place because of it. Now, years later, I look back on that time of my life with strange ambivalence. I question myself viscously. What was that season of life based on, seeing that my life and point of view on worship is so radically different now? Was that real? Was it authentic, or was I just a poser who found a place to stand and feel important because of the effort I put into it? I can’t really say. What I can say, however, is that I liked who I was at that time, but I like who I’ve become now even more. The reason I like where I am is that in spite my age, I feel like I am still growing, still learning, still changing. The point for me is not to look back and wonder whether or not my life was authentic or not. My past is what it is. Instead I have a present and a future to consider. My previous story helps me make sense of what I see at hand and ahead. To my friends on this journey toward the Church Of The Future; The watchman says look back as well as beyond. Embrace where you’ve been, but don’t want it back. There is a new place to create and establish. It’s the whole point of your feeling disenchanted. Change can’t occur until we get tired of staying in same place.