Monday, October 13, 2014

There's a Cost - Part 2

image used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of, picture by LaurMG
As we mentioned last time, Torben Rick posted a graphic of four things (since expanded to six items) he described as "the most expensive words in business". Looking at the list struck me with how much it applied to our Christianity.  As we continue, let's look at the full list again.
  1. We have always done it that way.
  2. That's the way we do things around here.
  3. That's not the way we do things around here.
  4. It doesn't matter what we say.  Nothing will change.
  5. Don't boil the ocean.
  6. Don't set the bar too high.
We discussed the first three in our previous post.  Today we cover the last three, along with some further thoughts on the list.

4.  It doesn't matter what we say.  Nothing will change.

That's probably the scariest one on the entire list.  Most likely, there's a top down form of government, whether it's business owner, board chairman, President at the helm.  In ministry, it may be Chief elder, head pastor, or Pope.  Frequently, in larger organizations, governmental structure is a tree, with each level replicating the ones above.  But it only takes looking at one level to see where the weakness comes in.

On each level, the person at the top of the structure very likely recognizes that they don't know and can't handle everything.  So, there will be one or more lower levels of managers and advisors. Branch offices or affiliated ministries will be have the same structure, except that each reports to some degree to "the head office".  All of that is pretty common and expected.  But the problem most often comes in via those secondary layers.  There will often be someone in one of those layers trying to maintain or enhance their position.  Possibly unconsciously.  That often includes one or more of our first three items on the list.  The fourth is a result.

When we look at the organization bottom up, we start with those below the top levels.  Either education or a different viewpoint will give some of them ideas that stray from the way things are usually done.  Sometimes, those are encouraged and the tendency to think is nurtured.  And, in those cases, when an idea isn't used, the reasons will be explained, both to show appreciation for initiative (or hearing from the Spirit) and to encourage future creativity.  But, when some who are higher up are more focused on maintaining their own status quo or path toward the top, fresh ideas tend to get squashed, with nothing more than a "That's no good." kind of disdainful statement.

The problem is that, when people's ideas are rejected without any encouragement, the zeal to come up with ideas to improve the company or ministry will die out.  They stop offering ideas and their satisfaction with the job and the organization decline.  The result is that the organization stagnates. There are no new ideas, no responding to environmental changes such as new laws or societal changes.  Dissatisfied workers tend not to work as hard.  And, if the unhappiness is great enough, they may leave for other, more responsive organizations.  Which spirals into an ever growing atmosphere of stagnation and dissatisfaction.

You'd think that ministry would avoid that.  But there are those who, even there, are in a job instead of a calling.  Yes, there can be other problems, but we're just dealing with Mr. Rick's list.  Let's look at the last two.

5.  Don't boil the ocean.

6.  Don't set the bar too high.

The last two are flip sides of the same coin.  Don't take on too much, either in quantity or in relation to your perceived capacity.  It sounds like good advice until you think about it.  In business, you're trying to make the company successful by doing everything well.  So, going too far beyond limits could be counterproductive.  At the same time, never taking on more eliminates the possibility of expanding capacities, both individually and as a company.  But we're talking about ministry and the spiritual realm.

Our last two items on the list set up a human barrier to the leading of the Spirit.  The founder of the ministry I'm in started in a small church in New England.  He believed God was calling him to a worldwide ministry.  It started with six people praying for that vision.  Today, our ministry has missionaries and churches on four of the seven continents.  That's not something you'd expect from a country preacher.  At least not from human perspective.

If we look at the start of Christianity, that's basically what Jesus did.  He took a bunch of fishermen and turned them into evangelistic missionary pastors, with a vision for spreading the Gospel.  Today we have a faith with a large variety of denominations, all over the world.  And some of those denominations started with country preachers who drew close to God and allowed themselves to be led by Him.  There are a lot of churches that wouldn't exist without that kind of commitment to be stretched by God.

So, how do we deal with all those six hindrances?  It really comes down to a few things:

  1. Actively get to know God. (Matthew 6:33)
  2. Trust God. (Proverbs 3:5)
  3. Give the Spirit control. (John 6:63)
  4. Allow the Spirit to give us a spiritual vision. (Proverbs 29:18)
  5. Enjoy the ride. (John 8:32, 8:36)
We've spoken of the negative side of all six points.  There actually is valid thinking in each of them. If something works, there's nothing wrong with doing things each time in a way that works.  But consider that every time Jesus ministered, there may have been similarities to other instances, but He personalized what He said and did to the particular person and situation.  Jesus was guided by the Spirit with direction from the Father.

John 5:30 (KJV)  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

Matthew 12:50 (KJV)  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Spiritual kinship comes from following Christ's example in that.  And it's very possible that using a tried and true method for a given problem may be the best option.  The issue isn't the method, but rather rigidity in our thinking.  We don't want to stifle the leading of the Spirit and miss out on blessings.

Are you allowing God into your decision making process?  Or are you preventing the Spirit from taking you from just good to the very best?

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