Getting first things first

My mentor handed me a book by a fellow called Peter McHugh called A Voyage of Mercy. He boasts with tongue in cheek that he is one of the few pastors to break the thousand barrier twice. He lost some two-thirds of his congregation in a split having been accused as being a control freak. In his resulting breakdown he discovered some precious truths… like getting first things first.

Here’s an example that really speaks to me especially after just finishing A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren (more on that another day). Here it is:

Mystery before mastery but not without mastery.

He writes “In general, western Christians have been raised to rely on and believe in logic. We have been taught to think in categories and in neat linear fashion. We prefer to work with known principles and anything unknown is seen to be wrong or possibly dangerous. Consequently our preference is to master life. Mastery is also a way of controlling the way life unfolds. Mastery seeks satisfaction as its goal. It seeks to be safe, certain and comfortable believing that this is the pinnacle of life. In fact it is the place of death.

A performance based mindset will drive towards mastery. The fear and insecurity of performance seeks resolution and takes too much responsibility for the outcome.”

He contends -rightly so, that there is more mystery to this life of faith and following the Lord than anyone with a mastery-mindset can handle. According to Henry Miller “Until we accept the fact that life itself is founded in mystery, we shall learn nothing.”

So if we are to get first things first in this case. we must hold mystery above mastery, but not without mastery, so it’s both/and but the right way around…

I hope that makes sense… or is it all too mysterious?!


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