Is this the Destiny You Want for your Kids?

February 23, 2009 at 4:47 pm (change, Feedback Received, Introspection, Leadership, Musings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been contemplating my role as a spiritual leader.  If they don’t want me to be a prophet, a priest, or an apostle, what is my role?  I already know that I’ve not been called to be a traditional pastor – in the shepherd sense of the word.  My gift of mercy is too low for this and I tend to do more damage than good.  A friend sent me a link to an intriguing article that helped me to see a potential role as a poet – an artist who helps bridge the gap between truth and reality.

I actually see great potential for this role, however, my strengths are not well suited for this.  I love ideas, I love to write, and when I have the energy, I love to speak to groups of people.  However, I have a high need to see results.  It isn’t easy for me to sit back and wait for things to happen.  So, I’ve been thinking.

Well, in addition to moping, sulking, and grieving, I’ve been thinking.  I may have even been doing some denial, bargaining, and anger.  But, I’ve been thinking – I’m nothing if I’m not introspective.  Ok, I’ve also been doing some insomnia and depression – but that’s all – some bad eating habits, some insomnia, and some sulking – but that’s it.  Really!  All of that, and some thinking.

In the midst of all this thinking, I’ve had a couple of crucial conversations.  One person was seeking to change me – to fix me, if you will.  The other was seeking to enlighten me to the realities.  Though both conversations were intense, and both had relatively good outcomes, I was left more hopeless after each one.

“Hopeless?” You ask, “Why?”

I’m glad you asked.  I’m beginning to see more clearly the absolute desperate state of the Church in Western Society.  I’ve known that our culture has moved beyond Christianity as a belief structure that is relevant – let alone attractive.  We are a post-christian society.  I know that.  But, I’m coming to the conclusion that even our churches have given up on the beliefs and practices of Jesus Christ.

“What!?”

Yes, the church is good.  We are moral, we are good – to a fault.  We do the right things, but we don’t necessarily do things right.  We have the form of godliness, but we are denying the power” of God.  It really is no wonder that people see the church as irrelevant.  It is irrelevant to me, and I’m one of their leaders.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am a friend of God.  I am a follower of Jesus.  I take the Bible to be the inspired Word of God.  I believe the Church is called to represent Him on this world.  I have no doubts about who is my Creator, Savior, and Salvation.  I just don’t think the church, for the most part, is representing our mandate very well.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t do a lot of things well.  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t a good refuge for families, the disenfranchised, and others.  But, we have ceased to be a viable force in the lives of people – in the church and out.

What I’m talking about is greatness, or the lack thereof.  We have sacrificed greatness for the merely good.  We have good intentions, but you know where that road leads

I look around and I am struck by the fact that we have no young adults in our churches.  When kids get their freedom (ie; Drivers’ License), they start finding alternatives to church.  Many remain absent until they get out of school, get married, and have their own kids.  People start returning to church around the age of 30 (give or take).

I asked one of my friends (which was also one of the crucial conversations I mentioned above), if he thought the church was attractive to his kids (ages 20 & 22).  He said no.  I asked him if he thought the church was relevant to his kids.  He said yes – but then he launched into a long explanation of why it was his kids’ fault that they didn’t come to church.  It was classic – “blame the victimdogma.  I’ve heard it before, wrapped around a thousand stories.  “We have the truth – and THEY know where to find it.  All they have to do is come and get it.

I asked my other crucial conversation friend the same basic question.  “Is this the church you want your kids (4 & 7) to grow up in?”  It was one of the few times in this conversation that he stumbled.  “No,” he replied.

It was at this point that I began to ask my wife if we could raise our kids in this church.  As we discussed it, we were afraid to pursue the question to its end.  It is a scary question for those whose livelihood depends on the church that is supposed to take care of their children.

Once again, I settled into another round of insomnia, grief, and sulking – rounded out with some unproductive introspection.

I didn’t like where this question is leading me.  I don’t like leading questions.  Last week, it was only a matter of putting in my time until retirement.  Just stick it out, lay low, and don’t make any waves for the next couple of decades.  I don’t like the sound of that – but for the sake of my family, “I could stand on my head and stack BBs” (to quote my Dad).  We talked about starting a small home church where we could be fed – a place that provides the spiritual community that we are created to crave.

Just about the time I was coming to accept this choice – well, that’s when the Spirit gave me Part 2 of the quandary:  “Can my/our children survive this unhealthy state of affairs?”

The answer is no – in case there was any doubt.

Being a strategic and analytic thinker, my mind began to run ahead of the issue.  Where will we find spiritual community then?  Where will I work?  How will I support my family?  Where will we live?  How painful is this going to be?  There is also this thought: “Is God big enough to save my children, even if we live in Egypt?”

During the course of the two crucial conversations, I mentioned my employment concerns – based on the current state of the world economy.  Last year, I was confident that “I” could provide for my family.  This year, I’m not so sure.  It was at this point that God reminded me of Goliath’s threats to the Israelites, and David’s response.  “But,” I challenged, “David didn’t have a wife and kids.  All he had to lose was his own life.”

It was at this point that I became desperate for God.  I can’t do it.  I’m not big enough, strong enough, or capable enough – not to mention, I’m not smart enough.

I am a coward – and I am thinking cowardly thoughts.  So, yesterday, I turned it over to God.  I lay on the couch, in sleepless anxiousness, tossing and turning, and I gave it to God.  Then I slept.

As I left the house today I told my wife.  “We have to fight.”  We have to be smart about it, but we have to fight the complacency.  We have to fight the push to put us back into our place.  We have to work smarter (with God), and not harder.

I don’t want to.  I don’t have the courage yet.  I’m not ready.  I haven’t completely come through the stages of grief.  I don’t have the heart for the fight.  But, in my heart, I know – we have to fight for what’s right.  Not just for our kids’ sake.  Not just for our sake.  Not just for the sake of those who have decided that God has nothing for them.  But we have to stand up for God – to be reflectors of His character.  The Universe needs to see that God is not mediocre, He is not vindictive, unmerciful, uncaring, or un-hearing.  He lives – and He saves.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.'” (1 Samuel 17)

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1 Comment

  1. danceswithklingons said,

    go to http://commonroot.ning.com/

    We are a group asking questions about being the church, perhaps the way that you are looking to be.

    There is an event on Feb 28th in Portland OR. My wife and I plan on being there.

    Here is the link to the event.
    http://commonroot.ning.com/forum/topics/intersted-in-intentional

    You are not alone in how you are feeling. I’m there too.

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