I occasionally listen to a podcast by John Ortberg. A few months ago he did a series on spiritual disciplines that was good for my soul. I listened again recently. He coupled two thoughts together that I wanted to share with you.
Ortberg (thought 1)
“What precedes a great vision? Often it is an experience of holy discontent.
Moses sees an Israelite oppressed by an Egyptian.
Martin Luther King, Jr. sees decades of racial injustice.”
In PLI, we ask the question of who’s in the driver seat in your congregation.
The right answer? Vision! A vision that’s been birthed by God that’s unique to who you are and the context where you’ve been placed. It doesn’t call you to something that you’re not capable of doing. It’s inspiring. It’s challenging, maybe overwhelming. It’s something we can only do if God is “in it.”
Which usually leads to a fundamental leadership question:
So what do I do if “vision” is sitting in the back seat and something else is driving the “car” of our ministry?
It’s not hard for most of us to identify with, right? We’ve been there. Will be there. We’re there right now.
That’s why learning together in community (with your spouse if you’re married) is so profoundly powerful and transformational in PLI!
I inquired about a pastoral couple’s experience of the learning community in Lincoln, NE, that recently started. I received a one word response: “Phenomenal.”
Every congregation that’s on the “wrong side” of the life cycle needs to begin with vision!
And that starts with a leader that can lead!
So, a simple question. Is there a “discontent” that you’ve been brushing off that you need to name and you need to act on?
What is it that stirs in you that might be preceding a great vision that’s yet to be born?
Ortberg (thought 2)
“My friend Max DuPree was asked: What’s the leader’s greatest challenge? DuPree responded: The leader’s task is to intercept entropy.
“I checked with Webster for a definition. I’ll skip its definition from physics and the laws of thermodynamics —topics I should not be citing—and simply underscore this definition: ‘the gradual decline into disorder.'”
What is it that starts a person, a congregation, going down a wrong path?
I suppose in congregations we’d seldom call it entropy. But, so many see it. Real leaders see it. They’re not satisfied with it. They are rallied to take action. To “intervene” when it’s too late to “intercept” entropy! They gather leaders around them and remind them that God called us to something more.
I frequently hear pastors say something like: We have wonderful people but they see themselves as the customers and I am the one they hired to serve them. They don’t see themselves as disciples! And they don’t see themselves called to God’s mission.
And what’s more frustrating for them? They have no plan. No pathway to intervene and begin making disciples.
You’ve heard me say before: Jesus attracted crowds, loved crowds. But, all the time He was attracting crowds, He was discipling the few to reach the many.
We all feel good if we can “attract a crowd,” but our churches—and us as leaders—need to determine how to “disciple the few to reach the many!”
So, let me suggest 3 possible actions you can take!
- Email Raechel and ask her about joining the learning communities starting in Southern California or in Des Moines this fall.
- Sit quietly for 5 minutes and name the discontent you’re feeling.
- Forward this to a couple of your leaders in your congregation and say: “Entropy doesn’t need to win.”