How do you keep your perspective? Is there a place for "love"?
In these days of wars and rumors of wars, in these days of violence, atrocity and drive by shootings, beheadings and seemingly mindless rage, how does a leader keep perspective. Balancing tension and diversity, growth and compassion, accountability and accessibility, message and metrics, vision and the reality is hard. When we are results focused, the relationship piece of the productivity puzzle is hard to maintain. We pray for wisdom and carry on.
Coming into the office this morning I heard the last few minutes of Jimmy Carter’s inaugural address, now so many years ago, 1977 to be exact. While his ability to lead the country, many have questioned, there is no question about his commitment to God, those in need and desiring to do the “right thing” and in “the right way”. To represent Christian love in all his activities.
The verse from the Bible that he quoted was from Micah 6:8
“He has Shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
As leaders of Christian Ministries we have a similar challenge in front of us on a daily basis.
I was wondering about the last stages of that “humble walk’
The period of time after the paycheck stops yet ministry of some sort, continues. How do we handle ourselves during the employed years and during the later, yet productive ones? That extended challenge has a complex context. In another part of his 1200 word speech he said, “Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of both spirituality and of human liberty.”. The juxtaposition of spirituality and human liberty as he described it, the juxtaposition of Spirituality and economic activity, business if you wish, is just one more piece in the complex puzzle of life. Particularly perplexing for those last three stages of retirement. Deciphering that puzzle and then leading with new insight, is indeed a challenge.
How do we lead within this? This is both a personal challenge and a leadership one!
I will suggest that it is an act of love to address this issue of “ministry for a lifetime”. It is incumbent on us as leaders to convey new perspective, a long term ministry perspective. Here is the heart of the matter: In our complex and demanding world, and with all the activities of life, how are we challenged to think about a lifetime of ministry, not just ministry for a time or season? How do we understand and integrate God’s lifetime of preparation for us, into a lifetime of ongoing service honoring Him? And then how do we encourage those we lead to do the same?
How do we simplify?
Perhaps in order to simplify, we try to categorize, silo or box-up complex issues into distinct, unconnected sound bites. We sometimes nod wisely about and issue while ducking the interconnectedness of our belief’s and values with life, business, financial and yes, political activity. There seems to be a greater willingness by Republican presidential candidates to expound on how their faith impacts their lives. Sadly, it has been so “politically incorrect” to do so for some time.
Living it out
Where the rubber meets the road for me personally, is at the intersection of a key stage of life, let’s call it retirement, and the future vision of God’s continued call on my life. Where that “spirituality” and “boots on the ground reality” meet. Or is it collide? Or for so many, maybe it is ‘ignore” the connectedness altogether. Our next Faith Based Retirement Plan survey will ask some questions about this.
If, as leaders, we don’t address and come to grips with how to even think about the issue of “ministry for a lifetime”, how can we impact those we are charged with leading to deal with it either. In graduate school I was first exposed to the idea of “opportunity cost”. This is the identification and then measurement of what is lost by not taking a specific action. Clearly if there is opportunity “lost”, there is also “opportunity gain”. By not expanding our understanding of God’s preparation and our execution of “changed lives” strategies during the last 3 stages of life, lives will be wasted, lives not touched and the personal opportunity to hear “well done” will slip through our fingers.