Month: August 2004

Well Intentioned Dragons …

Sometimes traditions obscure the light given in Scripture. From time to time I get calls from younger pastors who have faced what Marshall Shelley refers to as “well intentioned dragons.” These unwitting flame-throwers often lob thier WMD’s in the form of a tradition placed on par or above Scripture.

I recently had such a call from a younger pastor. It seems a deacon in his church was doing his job. Not content that he was doing his job, he thought the pastor ought to follow in behind him and do his – the deacon’s – job too. This suggestion was given without regard nor sensitivity to the past few weeks when said pastor was preparing for his third funeral in three weeks, been in and out of various hospital rooms and other homes. The same pastor has not only done his job but also the job of a youth minister all summer long. When these small details were offered they fell short in satisfying the sinister flame-thrower.

My simple retort – offer a copy of the Scriptures (any translation will do) and suggest flame retardent attire be warn for the next encounter. The incendiary devices will be deflected by the Scriptures which reveal a deacon doing his job enables a pastor to perform his with greater care and intention. Should the well intentioned dragon come to do battle another day, he should beware lest his own flaming arrows fall on himself and burn his tradition to the ground.

If said pastor reads this post, may he find more encouragement to hide in the Scriptures so as to avoid the flames.

New reads just in …

I need to update my sidebar reading list to include two new ones just in from Emergent/YS – A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren and Stumbling Toward Faith by Renee Alston. I will report on these reads and give click through links to get your own copy soon.

The diet and domain of leaders …

Dave Fleming offers some great insights in a recent article in REV Magazine. I found the following offering a good grasp of the mire leadership may become …

Know-it-all leaders have little tolerance for the past or their predecessors. To them the past represents stale ideas and practices. Wrong. Of course good leaders need to be forward thinkers. In their book, The Leadership Challenge (Jossey-Bass), James Kouzes and Barry Posner put it, ?Leaders need to be proactive in thinking about the future…? And I agree. Yet the domain of the leader and the diet of the leader are two very different things. An overly futuristic leader?s diet can easily overlook the wisdom of predecessors.

In the domain of leadership, it?s easy to believe that only current information is credible information. Yet as we?ve seen in the last decade or so, some of the freshest and most-needed insights (for the emerging culture) are ancient in origin. Yes, we need fresh voices to blaze new information trails. But we should be careful not to dismiss the wisdom of the past. When we ignore the past, we relegate leadership to the surface of cultural change rather than to the domain of human experience that transcends epochs and eras. What?s needed is an eye for a future that?s hidden in the past. Part of what a leader will need in the years ahead will come as much from recovery as discovery.

Do you have to be an expert to give advice …?

Relationships often prove difficult to navigate. Certain people choose a way of life in which certain relationships are not part of their journey. Marriage is not something everyone chooses. Violent homes don’t choose everyone. So, when someone is asked what to do in these instances we often defer to those who have authority or experience on the subject. Here are some words from Bruderhof’s Daily Dig for today that point up some advice is universal to all relationships and thank goodness someone champions a good way.

Three Words
Mother Teresa

People ask me what advice I have for a married couple struggling in their relationship. I always answer: pray and forgive. And to young people from violent homes, I say: pray and forgive. And again, even to the single mother with no family support: pray and forgive.

Presentation over imitation …

Working through Galatians 5 where we find Paul giving a description of the fruit of the Spirit, I have come to a phrase which I sense describes a misplaced emphasis. First, Paul describes the work of the flesh and gives a list that in some translations ends with the phrase , “and the like”, to indicate the list is merely representative rather than exhaustive. In contrast Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is ….” Again we find an ending phrase like, “against such things there is no law.” Another statement indicating a representative list rather than an exhaustive one.

Second, we find “works” is plural while “fruit” is singular. The work of the Spirit is a singular work that expresses itself in atributes that would undermine the works of the flesh and give “flesh” to the character of God being developed in us.

The phrase I have come to that represents a bit of a misstep is, “Presentation over Imitation.” While we tip our hat at the fruit of the Spirit, the intentionality with which we pray for and live out the work of the Spirit is over-shadowed by our insistence on a “proper” gospel presentation; choose the right tract, the right method (EE, CWT, WIN, Share Jesus Without Fear, FAITH) over choosing the right expression (love, joy, peace, patience, etc). So we find it easier to applaud someone who “shares Jesus” verbally than one who “lives Jesus” actively. The proper presentation flows from the proper imitation. We may have had it backwards for sometime.

I am saddened when I hear of a person who goes to a given church and gets “cornered” by well-meaning “evangelists” only to discover they did more harm than good. (True stories abound) I am heartened when I hear of people who go to a given church and find a place where they can share life with people who live out what it looks like to see God (as his character is developed in us by the Spirit of God) and in the process come to faith.

We should be consumed with “Imitation over Presentation.”