Action (pro- or re-)?

1 Comment » Written on August 10th, 2012     
Filed under: Leadership
Today’s post is written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.

This weekend sees the final races and closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in the land of my birth. (No, Beloved Reader, before you get worried, I’m not going to use another sports analogy to talk about churchy stuff.) However, it did strike me this week that Olympic medalists, despite being an incredibly diverse bunch of people, do have one specific and spectacular character trait in common. It’s one we find praiseworthy, and we ask them about it – especially in interviews after their successful performance (by the way, why do we see such people interviewed immediately, even before they get their breath back?). In short, this character trait is what we now call “pro-active”.

This seems like the most obvious thing to say; being a successful athlete, especially an Olympic competitor, doesn’t just happen to you. It takes hard work and dedication. Participants in the events expend a tremendous amount of energy and effort to achieve a goal, and if you ask them, they all know where the goal is and what it takes to attempt it. But I realize that, for too long, and in too many areas of my life, my attitude has been less purposeful. I have been reactive, prepared to “go with the flow”, and lacking focus on any goal.

You might ask what’s wrong with that approach to life. After all, our predominant cultural trend is to be relaxed about aims or goals in some areas of life. In fact, much of our world depends on convincing us to take a certain action or adopt a particular mindset, and it’s easier to convince us if we’re trained to be generally uncommitted. It seems to be working in advertising, politics and morality; the undecided are more easily swayed to buy this soap powder or support this trend in fashion, rather than doing the hard work of thinking for themselves.

It might work in your personal habits and social life. I want to suggest, however, that being reactive is not helpful in those who lead the church. When this thought first occurred to me, I was sure that I had never done such a thing; that I was a pro-active, independent thinker who led my ministry under the direction of the Holy Spirit. On further reflection, i was less convinced of my own righteousness. Now, I’m sure that my behavior and choices were a subtle mixture of decisive leadership and lackadaisical thinking.

Rather than following the published trend, discussing the latest blog topic or singing the newest hit, it must be better to read the Bible and decide for yourself and your church where God is leading you, or what truths you should be singing about. The agenda might be set by the season or the Lectionary, but the topic and tone are a matter of conviction and prayer.

One more note – technology falls into the same strategic landscape. It may the latest toy or cool effect, the fashionable sound or system in music or AV – but it carries an implicit agenda, which may be more about performance and showmanship, and less about pastoral ministry and community.

I’m just saying.

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One Response to “Action (pro- or re-)?”

Geoff, once again my friend, you nailed it. Though I expect you’ll get a wide range of views on your last two paragraphs, I hear you and agree. The spiritual maturity Jesus speaks of in Matthew 13.52 is clear: “new and old”. We (as individuals as well as local churches) tend to want to camp out on one or the other with little sense of balance and careful listening to God the Holy Spirit in connection with His written Word. Thanks bro., great stuff! Conviction, proactive, hard work is part of the glue we (I) often lack. -Glenn

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