Malcolm Gladwell Being Awesome

This quote from David and Goliath (1/3 of the way through and it’s a lot fun, per usual) is about parenting but it has everything to do with leadership:

“A parent [leader] has to set limits. But that’s one of the most difficult things for [the wealthy], because they don’t know what to say when having the excuse of ‘We can’t afford it is gone.’ Parents [leaders] have to learn to switch from ‘No we can’t’ to ‘No we won’t.’ But ‘no we won’t’ is much harder.

‘No we won’t’…requires a conversation, and the honesty and skill to explain that what is possible is not always what is right. Yes, I can [do] that for you. But I choose not to. It’s not consistent with our values.

But that, of course, requires that you have a set of values, and you know how to articulate them, and you know how to make them plausible to your child [the people you lead].”

Losing, Vulnerability, and Idols

Today I sat in a meeting where we craft teachings for our broader community. The conversation ranged far and wide: worship, self-reliance, vulnerability, joy.

My dad is fond of quoting Woody Allen (which is a lot of fun to write) who once said: “The heart wants what the heart wants.”

What struck me in our conversation today was this: that statement is true, and leading people to say no to what their heart wants is really, really hard work.

The biggest difference between my work in Colorado (with a CTK church plant) and here in Boston is this: the people in our little church in Colorado knew they were broken, and people in Boston won’t admit it.

Here in Boston we can hide behind achievements and opportunities. Busyness and activity are our idols. There is always something better and bigger and more impressive just around the corner if we keep pushing and working and striving.

It is extremely rare to come across a self-deprecating, genuinely happy, average sort of person. (Like this guy). Someone who tells the truth about themselves, someone who is grounded and non-anxious.

In fact, it was mentioned in our meeting today that a person like that would be held in suspicion in most of the circles we run in.

This semester has been fantastic so far. Ministry is going well by several measures. I love the conversations I get to have as students share their hopes and dreams and struggles and questions and ambitions and fears.

It feels weird to, in some way, discourage students from pursuing their dreams, to not go for it. But often the pursuit of that dream becomes their god. And underneath that is the anxious striving of someone who can’t deal with failure and their own brokenness.

If there’s one thing I hope I can do for students it is to remind them that it is ok to be vulnerable. 

You don’t have to rely on your self.

We worship a big God, full of grace, who loves us for who we are not for what we do.

In the words of Brene Brown: “Vulnerability is the birth place of joy, love, belonging, and creativity.

It’s fascinating this paradox we invent for ourselves: the very thing we don’t want to do (be vulnerable) is actually the thing we need to do in order to experience all we hope for (love, joy, community, etc).

Perhaps that is part of what Jesus meant when he spoke of gaining the world and losing our soul.

From the Message:

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Eugene Peterson on Pastoring and Other Amazingness

From this great interview:

The one thing I think is at the root of a lot of pastors’ restlessness and dissatisfaction is impatience. They think if they get the right system, the right programs, the right place, the right location, the right demographics, it’ll be a snap. And for some people it is: if you’re a good actor, if you have a big smile, if you are an extrovert. In some ways, a religious crowd is the easiest crowd to gather in the world. Our country’s full of examples of that. But for most, pastoring is a very ordinary way to live. And it is difficult in many ways because your time is not your own, for the most part, and the whole culture is against you. This consumer culture, people grow up determining what they want to do by what they can consume. And the Christian gospel is just quite the opposite of that. And people don’t know that. And pastors don’t know that when they start out. We’ve got a whole culture that is programmed to please people, telling them what they want.  And if you do that, you might end up with a big church, but you won’t be a pastor.

Advice to young people looking for authentic church:

Go to the nearest smallest church and commit yourself to being there for 6 months. If it doesn’t work out, find somewhere else. But don’t look for programs, don’t look for entertainment, and don’t look for a great preacher. A Christian congregation is not a glamorous place, not a romantic place. That’s what I always told people. If people were leaving my congregation to go to another place of work, I’d say, “The smallest church, the closest church, and stay there for 6 months.” Sometimes it doesn’t work. Some pastors are just incompetent. And some are flat out bad. So I don’t think that’s the answer to everything, but it’s a better place to start than going to the one with all the programs, the glitz, all that stuff.