OUCH! Written off as “negative”

I had one of those “OUCH” moments today. I was engaged with the state president of our movement who had come up with a mission statement he’s contemplating making into a bumper sticker. The conversation went to and fro for a while and was all good, then he played the “you’re negative” card, which I’m not. I just have a different perspective than I used to. It got me thinking. The moment we play the “negative” card, the conversation is attenuated and begins to contract. It is a value judgment that enables us to write the other person off and dismiss their ideas with one sweeping statement. As the person labeled negative, you can either defend yourself (thus sounding defensive), persevere (even when you’re not being listened to), or shut down – which I did.

I think it’s really important to scrapheap pastors that you pick your moments and pick your people carefully if you want to share your new-found perspectives and ideas gleaned from life on the scrapheap. If they’re not ready to contemplate that there could be a better way, you’re just wasting your breath, and it’s just too easy for them to write you off as bitter, twisted and negative.

Here’s some of the conversation:

Derwent
loving others as we have been loved and teaching every1 to do the same. (What Would Jesus Twitter)

Jack
can u teach ppl to love or is it a case of only being able to give away what you’ve received?

Derwent
Has to start with revelation of Gods love for us hence loving as we have been loved but then again I’m sure people can love even if they haven’t experienced love before. What do you think?

Jack

nah psychologists suggest that ppl who haven’t experienced attachment have significantly reduced ability to empathise and experience compassion. U can’t give what u aint got no matter how long someone preaches at u.

Melissa
Is that going to be our banner or something because it is very good. I can see that one in print everywhere!!

Derwent
Yep it’s our vision / mission statement. Heather suggested we get it done up as a bumper sticker šŸ™‚ I like the idea!

Jack
u don’t think it sounds presumptuous to “teach” everyone? when it comes to adult education, the best anyone can do is facilitate someone else’s learning… which is why Jesus used parables…. it was to take people on a learning journey….

Derwent
Jesus’ great commision finishes with and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you – hence our statement. As you and I have discussed Jack, the command that Jesus was talking about was love others as I have loved you. Everything is encapsulated in that one command. Profoundly. Simple and simply profound.

Jack
yeah but he didn’t mean our concept of “teach”. Our concept is greek and modern. It’s rote learning. Someone talks, we listen. Jesus was talking about a rabbinical style. “I do, you watch, we walk and talk” etc.

So if you’re using language for a contemporary audience, it’s not going to mean to them what Jesus meant. We live in a postmodern world… where “Teachers” don’t hold any authority and there’s no power in information anymore. We live in an information world! People don’t want to listen, but they’re more than happy to observe and have a conversation….

Plus, we could probably learn just as much from “them” as we have to “teach”…. see how arrogant the concept of “us” “teaching” “them” is? That’s how it comes across anyway….

Melissa
Bumper stickers would be great! When we did hampers this year gone Brett had the idea to get reusable bags printed up for church instead of the supermarket ones. I think that slogan would be great on them….might be worth looking into for next chrissy!

Derwent
But that’s always going to be the problem with words John, the way people interpret them. We can sit around debating them till the cows come home or simply go ahead and demonstrate them. It’s been common knowledge since I was at uni 20 yrs ago that people learn best by doing so when I use the term teach it involves instruction, modelling, … practicing and internalising. Try not to see everything in the negative because you miss so much when you do. It’s not arrogance when Jesus commands us to do something and it’s not arrogance when we repeat it to others especially when the command is to love others as we have been loved.

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I went to church today for the first time in months

My wife is off traveling OS with the eldest… so I’ve got the 4 and 7 yr old, so I decided to take them to church today…. for something to do…. And I decided I’d journal through the service… so here are my thoughts, hot off the press.

First up I notice the whole stage is done up… looks like they’ve spent maybe 10-15K on curtains, sound proofing and paint. Something I wanted to do for years but couldn’t scrape the money together. They’ve been saving lots on wages since over the last 12 months five staff have left. The worship doesn’t seem better or any more vibrant, despite people telling me that there’s a “move of God” because of the new pastor. It’s basically the same – although there was less people. But then I guess why would it be the same? Unless things fundamentally change the outward expression can’t.

Worship has started. The new guy is still busy shaking hands. He comes over and shakes mine, which I’m reluctant to do… then he said sorry for starting on the wrong foot. I said, it doesn’t matter (I mean “whatever”).

The fact that he froze me out and refused to meet me gave me heaps of grief and I’m slowly coming to terms with that. But then again looking on the positive side, maybe it just helped me face reality that I am useless and really don’t have anything to offer.

I am not needed and have nothing to contribute that someone else isn’t already contributing and anything I could do that isn’t being done is simply not important.

We’re up to the third song now. I’m singing and worshiping God because I love him, but at the same time I’m thinking it’s great to not have to make this service happen. There are times if its dead I would feel stress and feel like I’d have to do something to make something happen. There was always the worry that people will leave saying its dead and when word gets out that its dead it’s like poison.

I don’t know this last song… so I’m just kinda hanging with God. I don’t feel like I need to be singing. I’m not sure what people think I’m doing on my PDA… they probably think I’m texting someone! Who cares!

It’s just dawned on me…. I just figured out what part of the body of Christ i am – the appendix. No-one knows what it’s good for… and if it causes a problem or breaks, you don’t fix it… you surgically remove it and toss it on the scrapheap.

The next thing that dawns on me as the music is playing is the amazing thing is, God even loves stuff that isn’t useful… Like thunder, sunsets, the stars and planets, art, and poetry. I guess if we only view things through the lens of modernity, effectiveness, and usefulness then we are going to misunderstand a lot about God and His kingdom.

I always knew God didn’t need me… I’ve even preached it. But why did he have to use this church – my church, to teach me such a painful lesson?

I really enjoyed worship although for some reason, the kids don’t go to kids church until afterward, so my two were restless and a bit hyperactive. Not sure how parents are really supposed to engage with God if their kids are running around… but I guess pastors who have teenage kids don’t think about that….

It is tough experiencing a modern church through post-modern eyes… For example, the pastor just jumped up and said something to the effect of “we are people of the book, etc… Believe the truth… The inspired Word of God… your emotions won’t set you free, the truth will….blah blah blah.” But once we realise that the truth is in fact a person, not cold hard facts, but Jesus, and the word is Jesus and that it becomes law when the two are separated, it’s a bit hard to swallow.

I think i will one day find a way to serve God outside of the conventional church, but inside his kingdom.

I reckon that because we value mastery over mystery we elevate principles and in doing so we become legalistic and religious and don’t need the holy spirit. The enemy gets us with a double whammy.
My former senior pastor and coach has flown in, and is preaching now, which is one of the reasons I decided to go to church today. He says the purpose of covenant is to bring us into union with God and into union with each other. He’s talking about something I believe deeply. That church is first and foremost relationship vertically, then relationship horizontally. I just wish there wasn’t so much baggage hanging off all that and it was much simpler. His son (a close friend of mine) who burned out a few years ago didn’t come… another victim in ministry.

It wasn’t bad but i was done by 90 minutes though with another half hour to go. What I listened to most was when my former coach talked about himself and when he gave an example of how he would pray the lord’s prayer, in fact I had goosebumps. The information side of things though (the hebrew definitions) I could do without.

Final thoughts… I guess i just love the church as it is, warts and all and to not be part of something one loves is really sad. I think that’s why its been so hard and painful. Yes, I know things need to change radically in the church, but that doesn’t stop me from loving what it is today.

Maybe i needed the pain to become disillusioned enough to look for something new and to truly see how crippled the church of today is.

On the upside, one good thing is that I don’t feel sick… just sad and useless… which is much better than sick!

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The Beached Whale

In my state, whales beach regularly. I’ve never been down to see them, but I’ve seen the footage and have a good imagination.

Today I feel like a beached whale (not fat, although I am putting on weight, probably from too much beer). The family’s gone to church leaving me to install some sliding wardrobe drawers in the kids rooms.

Beached whales are still awe-inspiring. So big, sleek, and full of potential. They really are powerful, graceful beings. But they’re immobilized and totally unable to fulfill their potential. Washed up. Wiped out. Beached.

That’s scrapheap pastors for you. In my experience and observation, the ones with the most potential are the ones who find their way to the scrap heap, usually because they are the most ambitious, visionary, hard working, gifted and dangerous. Too dangerous for an enemy who hates the church with a passion.

Sometimes I feel like Moses.

Moses was a born leader. Much like me, although I’d have to say Moses would whip me in the leadership stakes on pretty much any day of the week. But I can relate to him.

I bashed a guy up for beating on his people. I like that. He’s tough, aggressive, and gets the job done. But for all his training, education, status, power and charisma, he ends up on the scrapheap. After the deed Moses skipped town and headed to the wild west. He ended up in the back side of the desert.

I wonder how he felt. Having grown up in the kings castle, I think he would have felt pretty low. He was basically a prince, and now he was herding sheep. Pretty much the only job going around in the back side of the desert. And he did it for 40 years. He was a nobody, who lived nowhere, who was going nowhere, who only had memories.

I’m not sure how long he would have been angry for. Or sad. How long did he grieve? Did he become bitter? We don’t know. But I can imagine. I feel like him. Out here on the scrap heap. I felt destined to do great things for God. I had all the training. I’ve got all the smarts. I’m tall, good looking, got a mind like a steel trap, have the aggression, the charisma, the strategic thinking, big picture, visionary mind. And yet here I am on the scrapheap.

Yesterday I was picking tomatoes. Tomorrow I’ll be repairing and building cattle fences in the rain. Sometimes I feel like Moses.