Archive for January, 2003

A prison for your mind

A Prison for your mind

The last couple of weeks have been good to me. I didn’t get much of a break, but I did a lot of IT work. It felt really good to be working back in my main area of expertise. Working as a novice teacher among professionals can be daunting. Working in IT among the less than technically literate can be very encouraging.

Much of how I feel has less to do with my circumstances and more to do with my perception. As I spent a couple of weeks doing something I am good at life just started to look better. The more life looked better the better I felt.

Sometimes when we are frustrated and desperate we beg God to change our circumstances. We ask him to make things easier or more accessible for us. I’m starting to think God doesn’t always honour those requests because it doesn’t fix the problem. Life isn’t as bad as it seems and we just need to see things as they really are.

When we are controlled by fear, even the most minor obstacle can seem impassable. This fear paralyzes us in worry and doubt. We become incarcerated in a prison of the mind when in reality we are free. When I found myself in this emotional cage I would ask God to take it away. It seemed as though God was telling me I wasn’t going to be free until I walked out of my own prison. It was like I was asking God to make the prison walls disappear when all I really need to do was walk out the open doorway.

How do you walk out of the prison? I think it’s a little like what Morpheus was telling Neo to do in the Matrix”. Stop trying to hit me and hit me”. It’s hard to articulate. I certainly haven’t mastered it.

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Speaking hard truth

Speaking hard truth

Recently a friend of mine shared with me the following experience he had as a youth pastor.

Early on someone approached my friend and told him that there were girls in the youth group that believed he had acted inappropriately. With an eager desire to resolve the situation my friend asked who the people were so he could take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. Unfortunately the person who approached my friend with this information didn’t know who these girls were. The informant only knew this information from someone else. My friend tried to find out but no one would talk.

Doesn’t it seem odd that we feel our best response to sin is to make it worse through rumour, gossip and anonymous complaints? Why is it that we feel we have the right to hold a negative opinion about someone even though it isn’t fair, honest or accurate? Do we consider how are actions can destroy someone emotionally and sap the fervour they have to make a difference in this world?

It might seem very frightening to personally approach someone who has harmed you. They may react poorly and you risk even more emotional damage. However this is the biblical model. Why? I can only guess but I believe the following.

1. Honest and loving rebuke builds relationships far more often than it harms.

2. The accused should have the opportunity to make up personally for the transgression.

3. The accused should have the opportunity to discern the real issue behind the complaint.

4. Accusers should be sure enough of their complaint to face scrutiny.

5. If we don’t have the courage to take risks in our relationships that speaks loudly about the true nature of our commitment to God.

6. Leaders become people pleasers when they are constantly worried about they might be harmed by the people’s response to their leadership.

7. Anonymous complaints rumour and gossip hurt. Usually gossip is only partially true. When a leader finds out that people have spread lies and suspicion about them it hurts. It’s completely defeating.

I believe that our abuse of leaders has hurt the church in immeasurable ways. We become a tool of the enemy when we don’t risk using the biblical model for resolving issues.

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The Bible has been my friend

The Bible has been my friend

When I’ve been stressed out and in desperate need of distraction I’ve turned to just about everything. Nothing worked as well as reading scripture. Usually when I would try to distract myself it never really worked. If the purpose behind an activity were distraction it somehow tainted the exercise. Reading the bible is different. Scripture has a way of sucking me in. It isn’t long before I abandon my first purpose of distraction for the richness of God’s word. It is so nice to breathe in a little life.

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Cut out for ministry

Cut out for ministry

In the past year I’ve had the biggest dose of formal ministry I’ve ever had. The more I get in to it the more I question whether I am of the right sort for formal ministry. There are times when almost all of who I am hates church. It feels like every resource in my body is rejecting professional” ministry like a transplanted pig liver. It’s like I breathe oxygen but I’m on a planet full of people that breathe something else.

Subtly I’m being molded in to a person I don’t want to become. If I offend or disappoint someone when I do that which I believe is right then I shy away from doing it again. I’m slowly developing a thick skin that I don’t want to have. I love being passionate, transparent and brutally honest. I don’t want to live in fear.

Last year I spent one year living in the dorm with no formal role at the school. In a sense I was a casual volunteer pastor and I could go where the Spirit lead me. I saw lives changed. I felt like God used me more in those 8 months than any other time in my life. Now that I have formal duties I feel like I’m so busy I have a hard time putting faces to names let alone see lives change. This year I’ve see far fewer lives changed.

I’m asking myself a hard question. Is the Kingdom of God better served when I’m in formal ministry or when I just volunteer? I could get a half time job in IT, live reasonably well and spend the rest of my life just caring for people. I’d be avoiding almost all the extra baggage that comes with formal ministry. Perhaps that is a cop out. Perhaps a call to ministry means putting your life in a position that carries inherent risk. I don’t know. That is where I am at right now.

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