Monday, March 31, 2008

a new mantra

Long before consultants endlessly chirped the mantra "Plan the work; work the plan" and way before "strategic planning" surged to the fore, a word of wisdom was heard way out in the desert.

Planning, of course, is necessary and good if we are to properly steward our gifts for the good of the kingdom. I wonder, however, if "strategic planning" is most often just the admission that our other planning is not what it should be. All planning, if done well, is strategic in the most basic sense.

Planning, and especially strategic planning, gets problematic as soon as it takes on the aires of being authoritative, declarative, and settled. It locks down certain possibilities and excludes others. Life is rarely quite that linear.

There's some old advice in scripture that seems to capture the best of what we seek in strategic planning but doesn't lock it down. Leadership, it seems to suggest, is anchored in deep discernment--the fruit of being steeped in the law (God's teachings).

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no (vision/revelation/prophecy), people cast off restraint (get out of hand/perish). But happy (blessed) are those who keep the law.

This little proverb sits among a number of others that call us to heed the "teachings" of God. Indeed, the term "the law" at the end of the proverb can be translated "the teachings."

People perish, they get out of hand, they cast off restraint, the proverb indicates, when there is no vision or revelation or prophecy from God to lead them. In other words, when we fail to discern--to perceive, to contemplate, to gaze into--what it is, or where it is, or how it is that God is providing for us (as we carry on the teachings), we'll inevitably fall prey to this or that trend of the day, charismatic figure, or fortune teller.

Perhaps we would do well to coin a new mantra: Discern the way; the Way leads to discernment.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is risen!

The grave is empty.
Death is defeated.
Now, all that matters, is a new creation.
Today and ever more.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

God is love.
At just the right time, while we were still dead in sin, Christ died.
In this world, Love suffers ...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

leading and following

One day last week during my usual commute, I was travelling with two cars when after a few miles I looked back and realized we had become a “train” of cars. There were probably 10-12 cars moving in concert together. As I began to notice the group holding together along the freeway, I wondered about the interaction of leading and following. None of the original three cars were technically leading – if leading means heading off into unchartered territory. We were following a well laid out freeway – one that provides the stability, the structure, and the direction to get us to the small town where we, presumably, were headed. On the other hand, we were leading - if leading means that others kept joining us and becoming part of our group. Some cars entered the freeway at different locations and joined us. Other cars joined in after we passed them and decided to go the speed we were going. However it came about, it became a “train” that lasted for about 10 miles. The group eventually fell apart as we hit the first of three exits that leads to the area where I live. Eventually, I reached my exit (the third) and went my own way.

As I went my own way, I was struck by the experience. The experience of being in the group. The experience that somehow that day I had traveled with these cars rather than next to them. The experience of whether I was following or leading.

It seems to me that following and leading are almost always this difficult to separate. Leading is in essence being a good follower. Following well almost always leads to some degree of leading because others join in. Maybe, that’s what the foot washing of the disciples was meant to convey? That following well and leading well are almost always inseparable. Maybe that is what gets most leaders in trouble…when they separate following and leading. When we – who think of ourselves as leaders – forget that we must remain followers in order to lead well.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

mccrory meditates

A few days ago, we received an email from a friend of ours who is unable to post comments from his locale (teaching English in China). We were engaged by his thoughts in response to the 2/29 blog and asked if we could post them as part of the blog rather than as a comment. Our thanks to Don for allowing us to do that and for being the voice of hobab's journey this week. We've posted his blog in quotes below. Dan & Bill

"I've been meditating about the choices made by the two criminals who were crucified with JC (Luke 23). It seems to me that the basic issues separating their requests of JC parallel the issues you summarize in your last paragraph. They both had a figurative "gun to their heads." There was no way they were going to get out of their desperate situations alive, and they knew it. And so like hostages in the mall or in the classroom, they had to make critical choices. Criminal #1 wanted JC to perform a miracle that would land him back into his life of crime. All he wanted was the cultural benefit (safety, comfort, security, a way out of his tight situation) of having a conversation with J. (Note that J does not even expend the energy to respond to him.) Criminal #2, however, had a sense that life with God was the better choice. All he asked was that J. "remember" him in the new kingdom. That was the request of faith that prompted J's response. I've noted, too, that nearly every word of J's response is hopeful...I, truth, today, you, will be, with me, paradise. Criminal #1 wanted release; criminal #2 wanted relationship." Don Mc Crory