Enough with Christian Leadership Books...Spend Time With A Dog

Guess what I read about the other day on the internet? There is a new book about pastoral leadership!! Yes, another one! But this one is different! The authors recognize the spiritual life of clergy isn't the issue for the church. People already respect their pastors. It isn't the programs, the programs are great too! The worship? No, that isn't it. No, the dust jacket blurb indicate, bu we've got the answer!

Oh, and if a snake had feet and wore shoes, what would you call them? While your thinking about the answer and wondering why I am sounding a bit snarky today I have a good reason. I am just a wee bit tired of all the books that have been shoveled and marketed to the Church in the past and present century. When you add to that number what pastors have spent to get the latest and greatest thing to be effective, well, I'm wondering what we've got going on here. This is just speculation mind you, but I've got to imagine we'd have a few more trees standing and a lot more kids with food on the table who need it. "Beware you be not swallowed up in books! An ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge. (Letter to Joseph Benson (7 November 1768); published in The Letters of John Wesley (1915)." Oh, and the answer? Snakers instead of sneakers. Thanks Laffy Taffy.

That is about what I feel like every time I get a new piece of marketing propaganda. There are places all over the world where Christianity is growing and they are not spending near the dollars on stuff the way we are in the USA. I feel like all I'm getting is snakers. It is the emperor's new clothes all over again. While I'm writing, I just got a message on my phone about a new video testimony series I can order...(wait for it)...SERIOUSLY?!?! It was Abba Serapion who was asked for wisdom by a monk. He responded, "What shall I say to you? You have taken the living of widows and orphans and put it on your shelves." For he saw them full of books (pg 227, Sayings of the Desert Fathers.)

I would question anyone who makes the assumption that the spiritual lives of our clergy is healthy. Spend some time reading Dr. John Crowe's work at BACH Development and you'll find plenty of material to the contrary. It has more to do with things than we realize.

Abba Xanthias, in the early centuries of the church, said, "A dog is better than I am, for he has love and he does not judge." Jon Mark's post at A Spoken Silence unpacks this very well. We need less study in leadership and more time with our furry abbas and ammas. We are not doing love really well at all.

We are a people in the west who are grasping and gasping for greater glories. "Seek first the kingdom..." were the words of Jesus. "If you don't have love you're a clanging cymbal," declared Paul. We give lip service and a passing nod to the idea of love, the ideal of love, and the ideology of loving God and loving neighbor. But do we practice it? Are you loving? Do you really LOVE your neighbor? How about the needy and how about your enemy?

"All growth is costly," writes Dr. Robert Kegan in The Evolving Self, "It involves the leaving behind of an old way of being in the world (215)." I don't want to just grow, I want to grow in love and right now, I know I have not even really begun to love. May I go the better way, the way of cats and dogs.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.


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