Monday, February 11, 2008

India Part 3

How the Lord is Seeking to Stretch Me as a Servant Leader

I have spoken briefly about my inability to give of my whole self even in intimate relationships. I believe this is primarily due to the issue of self-acceptance. Put another way, I know that I have a problem accepting grace into my life. God has certainly been working with me and stretching me through the course of the trip and beyond by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you.”[1] Seamonds writes, “Thus gracious self-acceptance, delighting in ourselves because God loves and delights in us, is an essential aspect of spiritual and emotional maturity.”[2] If I can not come to terms with the reality that all of my sins have been paid for, sins of the past, present and future, then I will be hard pressed to take the next step on the road of Christian discipleship.

The greatest example I can think of involving self-acceptance and the reality of grace given unconditionally were the orphans at Bethel. Honestly, it did not matter who would have unloaded from the bus at arrival for the week long stay in India. Those children, and adults for that matter, would have lavishly loved in no less of a manner than they did for our team. Earlier I spoke of having the reality of being a stranger in a strange land. What I have yet to mention is the “at homeness” I felt once I stepped off the bus at Bethel. Sure, the local dress was still a bit strange and I still had trouble distinguishing faces, but the loving presence of the Spirit was thrust upon me which gave me a sense of joy and peace. It was almost as if God was saying, “This is a safe place. These are my people whom I love and who in turn will love you. Let your guard down and rest in my presence.”

Keeping the above experience in mind, I am also learning that God takes the opportunity to shake us up a bit so that we can realize and be appreciative of His good gifts. It was a gift and a privilege to have the opportunity to fly half way across the world and visit God’s people in India. Not many people will have that kind of opportunity. Honestly, I do not know if I had had that realization until I was ill in bed for over a day. I could not tell you exactly how I got sick. I thought I had taken all of the precautionary measures. I never drank the local water and I ate no food outside of what was prepared for us on the compound, but God still saw fit for me to be ill. It was humbling to know that I flew around the world to lie in bed for an evening and a day. I wanted nothing more than to be well so I could spend time with God’s children. The next morning I even tried to overcome the sickness on my own by forcing my body to be active, but it was not in God’s plan for me to be available that day. It was in His plan for me to spend that day with Him self reflecting so that I could better appreciate the time I had left in India.

A second area which God is stretching me in leadership is in the temptation to be relevant. I worked as a youth pastor in the two years between my undergraduate program seminary. Relevance to the youth was highly touted and trumpeted in the youth leader circles of which I was a part. The question was always, “What can we do next that is cool so we can get and keep their attention?” The problem was is was always self defeating. Nothing cool ever kept their attention. Towards the end of my brief career, I began to question this tactic and I have been even to this day, but old habits die hard. Nouwen states, “The leaders of the future will be those who dare to claim their irrelevance in the contemporary world as a divine vocation that allows them to enter into a deep solidarity with the anguish underlying all the glitter of success, and to bring the light of Jesus there.”[3] This tells me that we should make a clear break with relevance and concentrate on relationships instead. Namely, infusing or bringing others into a relationship with Christ. Relevance is objectifying and filled with propositions. Relational is subjectifying and filled with the reality of Christ. Relevance always looks for the next big thing. Relational always gives concern for the care of the person.

This was all confirmed to me on this trip. Richard Bates and I had a brief conversation about what it took to be successful in India as far as crafts and play time. We came to the conclusion that the simplicity of India made it much easier to be content with the present situation. The kids never expected us to have an ipod giveaway or free movie passes. They never expected anything which was beyond their own means. They were free from the hustle and bustle of “keeping up with the Jones’s.” They didn’t require us to be relevantly dressed in order for them to listen. We were able to simply show up, love and be loved. Our presence was relational as opposed to relevant. I know it can be this way even in America today if the church is willing to recognize the sin of relevance and change the standards to relationships. My own “gotta have it now” attitude often pervades my patient side, but my prayer is that God cleanses me from the need to be relevant and instead replaces that with the need to be relational.

[1] NKJV, 2 Corinthians 12:9

[2] Seamonds, pg. 127

[3] Nouwen, Henri J. In the Name of Jesus. New York: The Crossroad Company, 1989. 35.

i'm glad i stumbled across your blog today.

it's good reading and encouraging.

thank you.

peace be with you,

Nice. I remember you sleeping that whole day. Thank you for not snoring :)

Seriously though, some good thoughts. I never realy considered that God may have wanted everyone to be sick like they were. Leave it to me to be the one guy who goes all the way around the world, doesn't get sick there, but gets the flu when he gets home (and after that expensive flu shot too!) But I guess it never occurred to me that it was God's will that it went down that way. Good stuff man :)
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?