“If the highest aim of a captain was to preserve his ship,
he would leave it at port, forever.” Aquinas
Too often, we seek for safety and security at the expense of living life to the full. We want the great celebratory moments without the stepping stones of effort, pain and hurt that get us to this point. We should not avoid danger, we should not discount how the difficulties of life mould and shape us and we should never forget that the smallest of things can have the profoundest of impacts in life.
If we were to bleach, clean and remove all dirt and germs from our children toys, they would never develop a healthy immune system. In fact, they would be more at risk of the things that we fear, not less. In life, do not fear the difficulties and problems, instead learn from them, grow from them and flourish in the new found skills and attitudes that will result.
Your job is not to stay safe on the shoreline but rather to explore the new horizons and the new worlds that are over the sea. Happy sailing!
What we celebrate, we measure.
What we measure, we cultivate.
What we cultivate we become.
We need to think carefully what we celebrate
It is easy to get in to the numbers game, not just the counting…ignoring them to. You cannot stand at the extremes, numbers do matter but we have to be careful what the narrative behind them is.
Last week we began our new missional community and, with all faith, said that even if nobody outside of family turned up, we would be happy. This soon changed as we had a number of people who committed to attend – 14 in all and my hopes had been raised, space would be a challenge and we were going to have an incredible start. On the day, we had 9 in total – but not from the group that had committed – just 3 from there. It was a fabulous start and I was (initially at least) disappointed.
Numbers are a guide, they cannot and should not be ignored. However, we must be careful to listen to the narrative behind the numbers and look at the long term success or failure. Jesus was deserted and by the time of his crucifixion was completely alone…..years later, the world was changed and numbers are beyond counting now. We need to track our numbers and learn what the figures say but the spreadsheet should not determine direction of travel or key decisions, for this we need the story.
There were good reasons why a number of folk did not turn up for our first meeting, we will be logging the numbers in the next few months and see the trends. However, they will not prevent us sticking to the calling at hand. We will see a community of believers transforming this area because God is at work and his faithful friends are serving. Some of these things can be counted, some cannot.
Numbers matter but numbers alone are a noose around our neck. They are a part of the story, not the whole. Numbers matter, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
Something that I wrote for the Ambassadors2020 website in March:
Almost a lifetime ago, Bob Hoskins’ BT adverts reminded us that ‘it’s good to talk’ and ever since we have seen the growth of the telecoms industry and an explosion in social media. Like others, my smartphone addiction needs careful monitoring, and so, I have chosen to say hello to the people that I pass when I walk down the street with the following caveat; to be willing to talk with folk that are up for conversation. It is so much more fun than the handheld screen.
A few weeks in and there have been remarkable results. I wait for eye contact and then nod, smile and say a casual greeting. Most people pass on, yet from this simple gesture, a number of conversations have been sparked. One guy shared the story of his life and the challenges he faces in retirement, and an elderly lady shared about her fears for her future as she is being relocated in a new development. Quite wonderful life stories that began with a simple smile and a ‘hello’.
In both these cases, there was no need to share a full gospel sermon to go into great depths about Jesus love for them, but there was an opportunity to say that the local church is a safe place to talk of these concerns, to find friendship and to learn about faith in Jesus. Perhaps the greatest witness was the time that I gave and the willingness to listen and respond. Both these conversations ended with the individuals saying thank you for taking the time. It cost me nothing but left me with a sense that I had been a friend and that listening to them had been a support.
As an ambassador, I do not need all the answers, to solve all the world’s problems, or correct all the mistakes of others. But providing a little salt or a smidgen of light can make a big difference in the lives of those we meet. When we make ourselves available, in Jesus name, who knows what can be achieved?
As Ambassadors, it is ‘good to talk’, what conversations can you have today?
In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.
We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.
If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!
Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.
Set the right goals…..and know life.
Dyson loves talking about the importance of failure in his life as an industrial designer. “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right,” said Dyson. “There were 5,126 failures, but I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure.” He goes on to argue that we often fool ourselves into believing that successful products emerge from a moment of “effortless brilliance.” To him, failures provide keen insights that enable the invention of unique products. Dyson explains: “We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually.”