Church-Hopping

My wife says she thinks we will get a reputation for church-hopping.  We’ve recently left a congregation we’d associated with for about the past nine years and where I’d served as a Sunday School teacher, elder and sort of co-pastor, and where my wife had played keyboard.  Before that, we’d been part of another congregation where my wife and I had both taught Sunday School and where I’d served as a deacon.  Dunno, maybe anything shy of 20 years with the same congregation indicates instability vis-a-vis ability to build and maintain relationships with other members of a congregation as well as relative to congregational authority and government.  I can see a case for that.

On the other hand, there’s discernment and a freedom, within the Body of Christ, to exercise discernment in regard to leadership trends and changes in what’s considered acceptable.  Also, there’re choices mandated by conscience as one develops biblical categories to make sense of behaviors, statements, trends, and other circumstances or conceptual “currents” that may push against and enswirl Christians in a local congregation.

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Something I try to teach those of my clients who are more artistically minded is this:

  • If you’re going to color inside the lines, try to ensure
  • they’re lines you’ve drawn, yourself, or
  • they’re lines that make rational sense to you.

Too often within a religious context we fail to exercise our competence to make sense of what we see, what we hear and what we experience.  The “wolves” the scriptures warn about take advantage of that tendency and often succeed in bringing the local congregation under their own authority creating categories of behavior and contribution to the wolf’s own well-being that are substituted for scripturally grounded Christian faith and practice.  That, in spite of the fact that the scriptures of Old and New Testament never once adjure the elect to pretend about anything.  It was Christ who said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”

Back to the Christov-Tenn church-hopping family – during the past several weeks, we’ve visited with four different congregations.  One of them, last week, I attended solo as my wife and son were out of town.  My wife told me, “You can visit that one by yourself.”  Turns out she was right about that one.  Today, we plan to return to a nearby church we’ve already been to and see what their Sunday School classes are like.  After this congregation, we’ve got one other we plan to visit with.  And who knows?  Maybe we will become aware of some others we should also visit.

Life

isn’t color-coded.  Those who imagine that the value of human lives or whether human lives matter depends on skin color are: racists; have well-below average cognitive horsepower; make their living by ensuring large numbers of human beings see themselves as primarily their skin color.

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Do black lives matter?  Not any more than the lives of members of any other race.  And the extent to which human lives matter is best determined by other human beings on an individual basis.

In the world of work as in the larger society, I tend to value human lives according a rule of three.  I ask whether the individual with whom I have contact is:

  1. A person of goodwill;
  2. Oriented to reality;
  3. Competent or moving toward competence.

Obviously a man or woman can be a person of goodwill and still not be oriented to reality or competent.  A human being can be oriented to reality and be a person of ill-will and an incompetent.  A competent person is usually a person oriented to reality, but that person may lack the quality of goodwill.  An individual who meets all three of my criteria, or Christov10’s Big Three, is not often found in media, in politics, in government middle management positions, or really occupying positions prestige in most realms of human endeavor.

I’m reminded again of C.S. Lewis’ address, The Inner Ring.  I’ve either linked to it previously or mentioned it in this space.  I first ran across when working for a largely unknown and strictly small-time (by the standards of modern bureaucracy) state government agency.  It was while so employed that I also developed my Rule of Three, which appears as a numbered list, above.  No imagination should be required to understand why it was that I turned my mind to matters of this sort during that period of my life.  By the way, it was at that time that I first read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Keep your speech free, people of the left, the right, and center.  Resist anyone who tries to silence you and to diminish your ability to think for yourself and experience your own circumstances according to your own perspective and within your own values.  None of that is infallible, but to what extent a genuine manifestation of your real self, to that extent meaningful and of value.

Dos centavos, people, dos centavos.

 

Wednesday’s Leadership Lesson

As I continue to observe and reflect upon the behaviors of human beings in a work context, I have developed standards for judging the usefulness of people as they go about their assigned tasks.  What I am looking for in others is:

  1. Orientation to reality
  2. Competence (and it won’t develop/exist without orientation to reality)
  3. Some evidence of basic goodwill – not a false altruism that thrives in the absence of an orientation to reality

If you haven’t got the first or second of these qualities, you’re not going to be able to produce value or function as a leader.  If you haven’t got the third of these qualities, you will fail to build and maintain trust necessary for the work group or unit to function.  Failures to have and develop these qualities lead inexorably to the Potemkin Village model of public service and, unsubsidized by redistribution of taxpayer wealth, to the collapse of commercial and industrial ventures.

Monday’s Leadership Lesson

You lead from in front.  You develop and model competence.  You do your own work.  Where there’s a gap, you fill it with your own effort until it can be repaired.  If you created the gap through your own failure or series of failures, you own up to, learn the lesson that teaches, and immediately start doing better.  You will be held accountable.

Respect

In the context of leadership, or really, any other, respect is something that is earned, never given.  If you want respect in the workplace, develop competence and produce something of value or add value to the overall process.  Additionally, if you are a person of goodwill, others will see that over time, just as, over time, others will discern your character, whatever it is.

To sum up – develop competence, produce value, exhibit good character if you wish to be respected in the workplace or any other place.

All anyone is entitled to in the workplace is common courtesy and compliance with lawful directives.

Anyone who aspires to serve in a leadership role should remember and think about these things many times throughout the workday.