Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dude, What Would Happen?

DWWH? is a reality-style TV show on the Cartoon Network. It features three teenage "dudes" who play out the sort of Phineas and Ferb-esque antics that are so often in the highlight reels of anyone who ever had a brother. Typically, each episode is concept/theme based. Experiments ramp up one from another in order to see just how far the dudes can push their schemes without actually delving into the realm of education. It's sort of like "what would happen" if Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure and Ferris Bueller's Day Off were spliced together as a single, ridiculous film.

This morning, I was praying with one of my dear prayer partners, and the Spirit guided me to pray over the way people treat her, and the way ambivalence and disregard seem to be increasing even among Christians and leaders who should know better. You know...the folks you'd expect to sound the alarms when the This Present Darkness culture rises around them. But not so much.

Somehow, biblical leadership often mingles with pop-psychology, and we find more and more written about how to increase self and expand territory, outreach, influence, productivity, and botto
m line. The study of genuine humility scarcely exists in the popular realms. That makes me think about baseball. Ruth, home runs, if you build it He will come, and all that good stuff.

There's not as much out there helping folks learn how to play what baseball coaching legend, Jim Leyland is famous for...the principle he uses to produce successful teams. It's called small ball—the emphasis on consistently getting runners on base and moving them systematically around the bases to score runs. The "heavy hitters" are surely welcomed when the bases are loaded, but they aren't necessarily the ideal because they tend to have a fairly high percentage of strike outs. Their fame and power can come at the expense of the team's ability to afford consistent, lesser-known, skill players. Their fame can compromise long-range team outcomes, especially if they go into a slump, find themselves in trouble with the law, get injured, or are found to be using performance-enhancing drugs. I won't spend the time here, but those metaphors apply in Christian leadership.
And that's what got me to wondering...

Dude, what would happen if—in this age of small groups, church planting, and pastor/CEO ministry, in this climate of leadership development, cross/intra-cultural outreach, and in the face of contemporary psychology influencing the supernatural realm of ministry—we went back to the essentials and basics—the small ball disciplines within our faith?

What would happen is the notion of Servant Leadership became less of a methodology and more of an instinctual lifestyle built on faith and obedience? What if there were a series of airport security style spiritual portals through which we had to pass successfully in order to move beyond the "small" world of consistently treating our family and friends in a Christ-like manner before we moved on to larger playing fields?

Of course, so often the learning is in the leading. While many a "great" leader has been quietly humbled at home, PLENTY have been humbled on a grand, public scale. But the realm of the nefarious is in the reality of the devil's own brand of small ball. There are many leaders—highly effective evangelical drones flying under radar—who unwittingly expand the territory of darkness by maintaining little idolatrous outposts—those protected, No Trespassing areas where they passively permit themselves to keep a campfire burning—the zones that allow for private worship of  "It'sJustHowI'mWired" idols.

Of course, we all have such outposts that enable (if not empower) us to act smug and passé (even slightly braggadocious) about being less compassionate, less wholehearted, less transparent, or even less honest than we ought to be...even through we insist that it's our business to disciple others. So let me pause here and say this very clearly because this ain't baseball, it's  the heavenly realm.

Idols are dangerous...really, Really, REALLY dangerous!

Idols bring unwanted consequences, painful set-backs, and worst of all...God's wrath. The harboring  of idols pretty much always involves brutality and death before it's all over. Is it any wonder, then, that the very first commandment is essentially an insistence upon the foundation of idol-free living—nothing that gets in the way of loving/obeying God completely? (See Deuteronomy 6:4-5.)

Look at the historical accounts of idol trouble throughout Scripture, and at best you find limited effectiveness (1 Kings 16:27) and at worst you see God's vengeance (Nahum 1:2).Our secret idol camps keep us at work with our enemy the devil...fanning the flames of disobedience, cultivating and justifying our own disobedience, and by default (one way or another) replicating our crimes against God through the spiritual DNA we pass as we lead and disciple.

Dude, that stuff is dangerous! 

Dudes and Dudettes... let's decide 
today to engage in the child-like wonder and enthusiasm of finding out "what would happen" if we shut down our secret (though the people closest to you know they are not so secret) camps of idolatry in our lives that give us permission to treat others with less respect, dignity, courtesy, attention, interest, reciprocity, kindness, love, generosity, grace, forgiveness, etc than we have received ourselves from Christ. Let the campfire go out and move on to a closer walk with Jesus.
So, Dude, if we find out that shutting down Camp Annie's Secret Idols (you choose your own camp name) makes it harder for us to have a broader outreach...well, it's probably not what you want to hear, but I'd say that it means we're probably at the right place on the map. We're in Camp Small Ball re-learning (or perhaps learning for the very first time) what it means to really live in a perpetual state of John 3:30 and to keep the bases loaded, and the runs coming in consistently. In the long run, that's far better rather than having a few heavy hitting games where our own legends are made. We need to play consistently in those every day small ball games where HIS Name gets all the honor, praise, and glory.

Dude, what would happen if you sent yourself down to the minors?

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