Monday, August 29, 2011

Learning to Wait

Waiting is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I like to control things, as much as possible, and in waiting my pursuit of control is irrelevant. I'm learning more about what it means to wait and to rest. As a father, a husband and a youth pastor, my passion is to see life change take place. The thing about life change is that it takes time, and it is often out of our control. My role of authority in the process of pastoring, child-rearing and being a husband is more about providing opportunities for life change or spiritual transformation to happen and less about trying to control how it actually occurs.

My wife and I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of our third child. It's in this season of growth that I am learning more about what it means to wait. For those of you who are learning to wait in your life in some way, may you find encouragement and inspiration through the words of a fellow sojourner in the waiting game.

In anticipation of the birth of our third child, I penned these lyrics for a song:

Here we are waiting
Hoping to meet you very soon
the anticipation keeps us full of knowing what to do

We're celebrating the purpose of life
in the spaces between courage and darkness, knowing you will meet us here

Love is waiting, holding tight, not letting go
No hesitating, we are here and we want you to know

It takes patience to rest in the moments of unknown
freedom and mercy are with you here, you won't travel alone

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gratuity Based Faith - Discipleship 147

I've been pondering the theme of gratuity based faith for some time. Having enjoyed my fair share of meals served in a restaurant, I've begun to draw comparisons from the service world to the church.

There are a segment of people that expect their experience of church or community to be steeped in gratuity. The cardinal rule for those in the service industry is to earn the faith of the customer; in doing so, you will be rewarded by their gratuity (a bigger tip). Waiters and waitresses have experimented with impressive feats such as memorizing orders, names and even making sure they are one step ahead of you when it comes to service...all to try and earn a handsome reward.

I sometimes wonder if the church has adopted this similar mentality. The pursuit of success has lead communities of faith to be more focused on meeting expectations rather than leading out of conviction or vision for ministry. When the questions leaders ask themselves are focused on developing loyalty and commitment out of their congregation rather than questions that are aimed at the spiritual transformation of people, I think we've missed the mark of what discipleship is.

Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." The sharpening experience occurs from a number of successive collisions...lives intersecting for the purpose of mutual growth and development. I've never experienced a collision that didn't cause me some sort of pain and/or residual damage (some of which was for the better). I think we need to anticipate that living in the world of gratuity based faith isn't reality. In reality there will be conflict and challenge; the question is how will we choose to benefit from these growth opportunities.

The next time you are in a restaurant and leaving a tip, think about how you can inspire those around you to pursue authentic faith through the experience of discipleship.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Hear Many Voices - Discipleship 146

It's been awhile since I've had the chance to share what has been rattling around in my brain. I've been thinking a lot about teaching and discipleship as it pertains to voices. Let me explain.

The modern education system was built upon the school house idea. There was one teacher for all of the students in and around the local community. The classroom was often filled with students from a wide variety of grades, and the teacher was not only expected to teach to students of different levels, but was also required to teach on every subject matter...and quite frankly to be an expert in every field.

This system had its advantages and disadvantages. My own grandmother experienced education in this setting and benefited from it. What is a tad bit frightening is that this concept for education is still in primary use today in the church realm. The secular educational system moved away from the one teacher knows all model due to external factors like urbanization and increasing class sizes; and although still utilized during the formative years of education in grade school, as people grow and develop they are exposed to different authoritative teaching voices to enhance their learning experience.

So what does this mean for us with regards to discipleship? we allow a multiplicity of authoritative voices to speak into the process of spiritual transformation? If the answer is no, perhaps we need to evaluate our motivation for this type of restriction. I know personally I'm often afraid that if I share the leadership responsibility with others I may become expendable. But the bottom line is that the learning experience is enriched as we allow collaboration to be the foundation for growth. I'm not an expert on every subject, but I have something to contribute to the conversation. Will we have the courage to invite other voices into the discipleship process?