Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Offertory Time

Written by: on October 11, 2018

As mentioned in my previous post in response to How to Read a Book, my reading and study habits are being challenged. How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read takes it to another level. I attempted to practice what I have been learning and did my best skimming yet!

You would think skimming would be second nature but I have recently noticed my tendency to get lost among the ‘trees’ and then struggle to see the ‘forest’ of a book. My reading of The Modern History of Hong Kong is case in point. There seemed to be thousands of trees in that book and I waded into them as usual page by page. But given the time constraints, my reading was stopped short in order to finish the assignment and I had not yet gotten to the middle of the trees. I had difficulty grasping the ‘forest’ of that book. Being able to skim a book and talk about it is a skill I will continue to develop. And Bayard’s book gives permission to engage now and not in some distant future when I am smart enough or skilled enough in this.

What I appreciate most about Bayard is his candidness. He speaks to how overwhelming the earth’s library is and gives us tools to not be crushed by it. He acknowledges that there will always be more to read than there will ever be time for. We will forget most of what we read. This is extremely frustrating and yet unavoidable. And our own personal experience and inner library are critical elements to bring to bear on how we talk about and use books. They should not be checked at the door of academic endeavors.

I found this book to be quite encouraging and inspiring. And he reminded me of two other examples of this kind of encouragement experienced recently.

Jason Clark shared a thought in his debrief session at the end of our time in Hong Kong that is still working on me. He said that our work will always be incomplete. We will not solve a problem in its entirety for the world during this program. And we should not despair of this. Instead we must and should contribute what we can to the solution. We should attempt to make things a little better. We must be temperate, moderate and careful in these attempts but should offer them nonetheless.

This reminds me of the opening sentences in the Gospel of Luke. Luke says something incredible in his greeting that I missed for many years. I certainly would still be missing it if a dear mentor had not brought it to my attention. His opening to Theophilus in Luke 1:1-4 is insightful:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.[1]

Luke admits he isn’t the first or the only or the best to write an account of Jesus’ time on earth. He says that many others have already done something similar to what he is attempting.

We live in a world that values superlatives – the greatest, the best, the most unique and on and on. I have often bowed to the idol of uniqueness and believed that if I could not be the only or the best or the first to say something or do something it was not worth offering.

It is a lie.

And I love what Luke gives as a justification for his letter – ‘it seemed good to me also’ to add my own account.  And then he moves on to record his perspective of God’s Son come to earth and the incredible events that transpired. So simple and humble. And I would say this is revolutionary for our culture today. It is at least for me.

Luke does not ask for approval or seek validation from others. He does not launch a marketing campaign (that I know of) to assert and convince of his expertise on the subject. He does not insist on the need to be unique or carve out his ministry niche. And Luke does not disparage any other previous accounts. He resists the age old ‘blow your candle out to make mine burn brighter’ trick move. He just offers his account. Luke joined the conversation.

Thank you to Pierre Bayard, Jason Clark and Luke the Physician for the invitation to add my voice to the conversation and attempt to make things in my world a little better.


[1]English Standard Version

About the Author

Andrea Lathrop

I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, a wife, mom and student. I live in West Palm Beach, Florida and I have been an executive pastor for the last 8+ years. I drink more coffee than I probably should every day.

13 responses to “Offertory Time”

  1. Digby Wilkinson says:

    Hi there Andrea. When I read your comment that we forget most of what we read, your comment resonated with my experience of reading Bayard on the plane coming home. I read most of it because I’d seen all the inflight movies (which is a concern). By the time I got off the plane I couldn’t remember the title of the book. However, when I looked back at my jottings much of it came back. I don’t know about you, but learning to trust my inner accumulation of knowledge doesn’t come easy and requires a bit of courage. Where I found Bayard most helpful was his reminder that we carry inner libraries that shape the way we see the world. So my questions are, do we need to ‘try’ to access those libraries, or are they accessed the moment we engage with how we feel or think about what has been said or written? Second, can I trust that inner library when finding my own voice on a particular subject? A little courage goes along way.

  2. Karen Rouggly says:

    I loved the way you drew this into scripture. Our church went through a season earlier this year where we weren’t quite sure what was next. As we prayed together, we just kept hearing, “It seems good to me, and to the Holy Spirit” about a few different things. And so we risked it, and went with what “seemed” good. It’s been so worth it.

    I love that you used that parallel for school. I feel like at times, I have no idea what I’m doing, but it “seems good”, and it feels right. Both you and Bayard have given me freedom this week.

    • Andrea Lathrop says:

      I love this, Karen. Thanks for sharing the process your church has been in and their use of this phrase. I can see I am changing with my use of ‘God said’ – which is something common in charismatic circles. ‘It seemed good…’ is becoming more comfortable. Haven’t landed on all this yet but am in process. Grateful we are on this good journey together.

  3. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Excellent, Andrea! As I read your post about Luke’s words I also thought of John’s words in 21:25 (NET), “There are many other things that Jesus did. If every one of them were written down, I suppose the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” That is an incredible thought when one considers John’s time with Jesus was only three years. It leads me back to my musings this week and your post, humility about the vastness of knowledge and our ability contribute to it. Perspective about our true place gives confidence as well as meekness.

  4. Mary Mims says:

    Thank you Andrea for your voice and your contribution to the knowledge of the Kingdom of God. Your voice, although sometimes more quite, is worth listening to because of the sincerity of your voice. I thank God for your remembering what Jason said and reminding us all of that simple truth. Sometimes those who are more quite take the time to hear what others miss. I think Bayard’s book helps us to appreciate nuggets of truth that exist in all of the forest of information. Thanks for grabbing these nuggets and communicating them back to us.

  5. Mario Hood says:

    It seems that you were in my head today! I’ll be turning thirty-four on the 25th of this month, but I feel like I’m turning sixty-four because I find myself mad at every other post on social media from a young pastor who is self-proclaiming themselves as the “next” best thing! I had the thought go through my head… Jesus had twelve disciples…twelve, but we only talk about a few as if they were the only ones. Then I begin to pray, Lord I’ll just be one of the twelve I don’t want or need the spotlight.

    Luke, as you pointed out, doesn’t get much of the spotlight even though he wrote (in volume) just as much of the N.T. as Paul! Every voice matters and I think Bayard would second that because as we bring our collective voices together, the volume grows louder!

    • Digby Wilkinson says:

      Wow Mario, 34. I have vague memories of 34. I think there were two small sleepless people in life back then. The last 20 years have been a blur.

  6. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Thanks for being vulnerable as you are learning to open yourself to new horizons of learning how to learn. I am glad Bayard was inspiring to you and I wonder if Jason Clarke has a method to the madness of some of these books (at least it seems that way to me at times.) Like you, I am beginning to back away, much further than before, believing there is a connection of the seemingly random sources if I can only pause and back away far enough to see it. Thanks so much for utilizing the writer of Luke’s opening remarks to encourage yourself and us to add our voice to our world today. Blessings on you and yours and see you on Monday, H

  7. Rhonda Davis says:

    Great post, Andrea. The more I learn, the more aware I am of how much further I have to go. I am encouraged by the musings from our cohort as we live into this new journey. Thank you for so humbly inviting us to release the pressure of novelty, and engage in sincere conversation. Perhaps our greatest contributions are invitations just like this.

  8. Jenn Burnett says:

    First, I miss you! It was so fun being your roommate in Hong Kong! I also appreciate that you chose Luke as an example. I’ve been considering Luke and Matthew in relation to Bayard and the populate view (at least in what I perused in seminary) that both of these authors had both Mark and the lost text ‘Q’ to draw on in writing their versions of the gospels. There were presumably 2 existing texts and both these men wrote their own versions anyway. Yet even with 4 versions of the gospel story (once John is added to the collection) I still find myself longing for more versions, more perspectives, more details. It is encouraging to be reminded that though the work we do will not be exceptionally new, and unique only in a precious few places, that it will nonetheless be valuable and useful in building up the kingdom. May the Lord direct our efforts and energy!

    • Andrea Lathrop says:

      Miss you too and have thought of you several times! I appreciate the reminder that Luke referred to several versions and make careful considerations himself and still added his own. I want more as well. How encouraging for us today in this program.

  9. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Thank you for sharing encouragements with us Andrea. I find it poignant that you quote from Luke . . . for it is in Luke’s gospel that Jesus chooses the 12 disciples by going away to pray and discern, and then intentionally choosing the 12 from a larger group.

    Mario is right, each of those 12 had a voice and a role to play. Just like in our cohort, each of us was chosen, has a voice and a role to play. Looking forward to growing with all of you!

  10. Sean Dean says:

    Thanks for this Andrea. For the majority of my life I have compared myself to the best at whatever I was doing. That was until I had a son who constantly considered everything he did to be the best or the first, simply because he hadn’t heard that anyone else had done it before. It was in watching him that I started to realize that all I can actually do is my best and add it to the conversation. Thanks for putting some skin and muscle on the bones on that idea. I have never thought of Luke’s opening like that before. You make some great points.

    There are a thousand facets to the foster care problem in the US. I can’t fix them all, but I can work on one and that’ll be enough – at least for now. Thanks again.

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