Monday, January 5, 2009

Begin with the End in Mind

If you were to fast forward to this time next year, what would you hope is different? What do you hope to have more of?

In our current economy, the first answer that may rise to the surface is more money or financial security. I relate to that. It is more difficult to make ends meet, and things certainly feel more uncertain.

However, when I reflect past the immediacy of the urgent to the depths of what is important, my prayer for this time next year is more faith. I don’t say that as a pastor or a “religious” type. I say it as a man. I say it as a husband and father, as a neighbor and citizen, as a regular guy. My prayer is for more faith. It is a dangerous thing to pray for.

It is too easy in our culture to replace faith with religion. Faith in God (or anything) is meant to inspire. It is living with such a deep inner-trust in the object of our faith that we are willing to risk, step out into the unknown and bank our lives upon it. Faith inspires and opens us up to new possibilities. I have found that nothing inspires like faith in the living God.

Ironically, religion (spiritual, corporate, or cultural) too often imposes the opposite mandate. Religion, in its variety of forms, most often reinforces the status quo and encourages people to fit in. Faith calls out values of vital trust and risk; religion often requires unimaginative conformity.
Religion at its worst reinforces the status quo, often at the expense of faith. They had a religion at Woolworth’s department store, and sticking, without variation, to the principles that made the store great prevented them from turning into a new, better kind of experience. The store is long gone, of course.
Tribes, Seth Godin, pg. 81.
I long for a growing “go-for-broke” faith. Isn’t that what Jesus kept pushing for in his interactions with people? He kept asking why people were settling for stagnant religious rule-keeping when they could experience the adventure of faith. Religious rule-keeping is all about control and conformity that doesn’t allow anything to surprise us. It prevented and prevents people from seeing Jesus when he shows up and stands right in front of us. More than anything else, religious types in Jesus’ day challenged him on his living outside the box of religious rule-keeping and conformity. Instead, he kept opting for the redemptive, healing, miraculous work of the Living God taking place all around Him. I want to do the same.

Godin’s book isn’t about spirituality or religion or faith – nor is it from a Christian point of view. Interestingly, it is a book on leadership. However, he adds, “if religion comprises rules you follow, faith is demonstrated by the actions you take” (pg. 83). His challenge is for more leaders to function outside the conformity of (corporate, spiritual or cultural) religious systems and to lead with vital faith from outside the box.

At the end of the day, or at the end of this next year, I want to look back and say “I trusted God more.” I want to say of the leaders of our church and the congregation as a whole, “we trusted God more.” We know we did, we will say, because of the actions we took. We know we did, we will say, because of the ways we experienced the activity of God in and all around us in ways we never would have imagined. I recognize it won't happen by accident. It begins by living with the end in mind.

What do you think? Please click "Comments" 6 to leave yours.


Slag said...

Wayne, I think you make a wonderful point, that there is value in putting your self at the end point and asking, "what do i need to do now to get there?" We've probably all been in the situation where we have a goal, but we only look at it from the perspective of "now". So I'm here looking foreward thinking "that's where I want to be in 12 months!" And I might currently feel highly enthusiastic about it. But tomorrow comes and i let it slide, and the next day comes and I let it slide, and six months later I'm still letting it slide....till right down the slippery slope slides my goal. BUT, If I visualize myself 12 months from now, and what achieving that goal will look like, then I have a real since of the roadmap to get there, not just overflowing enthusiasm. And that goal becomes much more likely to be met.

but what I really want to know is what is the source of the music for this blog? I came here from a link in facebook and the most cool and funky version of Ellington's Caravan was playing. I didn't see any credit or info on the site. Who is that crazy base-player?

Your ol' childhood friend Kurt K :)

Abseroo said...

Wayne, I want that too, that going for broke faith. I assume you haven't posted another blog yet this year because you are working on your illustrated, step-by-step manual for getting there from here?