Friday, October 26, 2012

Values not Vehicles

I can remember the first day when I took possession of my very own vehicle. While I did enjoy cruising around in my new car, I found that I enjoyed the value of freedom more than the actual car itself. My car, although wonderful, took a lot of maintenance to keep on the road. I would spend lots of money, time and effort into making sure that my car was ship shape. And you know what happened? Well the day came along that this vehicle I had put so much energy into no longer met my needs, so I went out and purchased a new one. While this story might seem a little trivial, I do think it provides us with a glimpse into the societal tendency we have to value vehicles ahead of actual values.

There is so much that I'm learning about what I don't know thanks to being a father of young, impressionable children. Perhaps the most valuable lesson that is currently occupying by brain is the idea of what kind of values I am passing along to my children. Values are an interesting thing. Sometimes we cling to ideals that we believe are important, but when we take an honest look at our lives, we may find little to no evidence that these ideals are actually important to us.

Here are three ways I would suggest we can ensure that we are actually passing on values instead of an insatiable appetite for broken down vehicles.

1. Just do it. Nike said it best...when it comes to values, just do it. If you say you value something, make sure you demonstrate that value by actually incorporating it into your daily routine. If you value relationships, there should be many significant relational building moments throughout each of your days...if not, you may not actually value relationships.

2. Use a filter. Values are a filter that help us to choose our vehicles wisely. If we do perhaps value relationships, we may refrain from over-booking ourselves with entertainment oriented activities so we can actually spend time connecting with people. A wise decision is a decision that is filtered through a grid that identifies whether or not your values will be enhanced or hindered by the course of action you take.

3. Get over it. Vehicles don't last forever...but values do have long-term impact. There will come a day when someone might suggest for you to engage in an activity that you don't particularly enjoy. On that day, you will be presented with the choice between what you value most: a vehicle or a value. If we hold onto the expression (vehicle) of a value instead of the value itself, we will unintentionally de-value the value and elevate the vehicle. If, however, we find the courage to embrace the value no matter what the collateral vehicular damage, we may just cement the legacy of the values we so desperately long for others to embrace in the lives of those whom we care about.

Values are more important than vehicles. Are you willing to allow your vehicle to die so that the value might actually live?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Field of Dreams Myth

In 1989 Kevin Costner starred in a movie that I've entitled this post after. The basic premise of the film was creating a space and rhythm for memories and connections to be made. The most famous line from the flick "if you build it, they will come" has long been a rallying point for those of us who are immersed in the world of ministry.

We've spent millions of dollars, hours and other resources crafting programs that have been designed to attract people towards Jesus like a fly to fly-paper, and if we were honest about our measurement of success, we might simply categorize these efforts as a colossal fail.

Think about this for a minute. I live in Canada, and while I'm very thankful and grateful to be a part of this nation, there are many things that grieve me as a citizen of Canada. Consider our nation's unwillingness to fight for the rights of an unborn fetus, or our inability to create a inter-cultural community where tolerance isn't the common placed value for all.

When we place greater value on infrastructure and systems than we do people...we've simply got things mixed up.

We believe a lie...a lie that states if we build a great system or create a magnificent marketing campaign our product will sell better. But unless we can create a community or a hunger around the product we are marketing, our efforts are wasted.

The Field of Dreams myth suggests that the system or the program is of utmost value. The truth is the exact opposite. If we help create and foster a community of vibrant individuals, others will be drawn to it. Consider Martin Luther King, who spent a great deal of his life canvassing for a dream...a dream that saw the end of all racial tensions in the United States. King wasn't marketing a program...he was campaigning for a change in the value based system of society...he was intent on creating space and rhythm for a new reality or community to be born.

Maybe it's time we redirect our energies to consider what it might meant to create space and rhythm for community to form rather than programs that cease to become sustainable long term.

In the church world, if it is our desire to truly become closer to model our lives after his example...maybe we might just need to spend more time pursuing him instead of the "next big thing" in the realm of ministry. Can you imagine if families