I could not think of a better book to wrap up the hectic semester I have had…I almost wrote summer, but my summer is far from over. I must say, this has been the most challenging and difficult year I have ever had…without a doubt. In the past year and the next three months, this is all that I have dealt with, and all that is in store:
- I saw one of my sons arrested…details not important, and he is home safe and sound, but nothing tries a parent and a minister like having to walk your son into a police station; it was a growing experience for all.
- The above mentioned item also caused a few people at church to decide that his indiscretion should be grounds for my dismissal…I am happy to report there, that the elders and the church did not agree.
- I have had 5 surgeries, with two more pending in the near future: both knees, wrist, elbow, and ankle – the two coming up are on my other elbow and my sinus cavity…its been a painful year of healing.
- Of course, with this assignment, I am just nearly completing my first year of doctoral work; which has been both a blessing and challenge.
- I have traveled to India, South Africa, Oklahoma, and in two weeks I travel to Guyana to preach at a Gospel meeting there; in September, we all travel to Hong Kong together, and then in October I travel with some of my church family to Jordan and Israel for a Holy Land tour.
- Our church just finished Vacation Bible School, today I am camping with the church for our annual camping trip (which is why this paper will be lacking some of the usual detail work); and once I return from Guyana, I have two days to get ready for Summer Youth Camp for the kids; furthermore, in August, we have a booth at the county fair that I spend the whole week having bible studies with those who permit it (I love that week).
- Three days ago I married off my youngest son; on August 1st I marry off my second daughter; on September 1st, I perform the wedding ceremony for one of the girls in our youth group.
- Of course the trip to Oklahoma was because my wife (who is an only child), had her father pass away very quickly and unexpectedly. She also lost her dog who has been with our family for about 10 years this year.
I am sure I have forgotten some things, however, I suppose I bring all of that up to embrace the motivation I found in this week’s reading by Robert Quinn. Though I know this still was not directly a “ministry” book, the reality of what we do as ministers is folded up in how we see ourselves. I believe this book really makes the reader peer at themselves through a microscope.
When I reached chapter 9, which was titled “Build the Bridge as You Walk on It,” I could not help but think about how much of my ministry has been exactly that way. I pondered the fact that in order to build the bridge, it still requires the leader to have some know-how on bridge building; however, on far too many occasions, I have found either people or situations forcing me to adapt and revise as I go. In regards to my son’s arrest, there was nothing really in place to prepare me for such a thing; but as I keep telling our Youth Minister…”I am all about the Ministry.” I worked so hard with our elders and congregation for the shock that was coming, and as a result, they church was a great support to me and my family. I thought about the movie “Ladyhawk,” when the old munk told Matthew Broderick to “Remember to walk on the left side of the bridge.” Later in the movie, when the bad guys show up at the gate, and the danger is real, it is at those points that we cannot forget which side of the bridge to walk on.
Also in this chapter, I thought it was interesting that Quinn discussed an interview he was helping an intern to give with the head of the company he worked for; after the Supervisor gave his interpretation of the first 5 successful years of their company, the author said, “This account did not match my understanding of what had taken place.” I thought about how many times I struggled to walk on the left side, but at the end of the day, was just happy that everything worked. Sadly, others only saw the problems and the struggles, where I, as the leader, saw the success in spite of those things. I was talking about “Impetuous Peter” in my sermon last week, and if you just look at his ministry in the Gospels, many would say that Peter was a failure. However, if you read through the book of Acts, you see that all of the trials, shortcomings and failures Peter had endured prepared him for the ministry at hand later; thousands would obey the gospel call and be baptized in Acts 2…that sounds like success to me.
In regard to my dissertation, part of my purpose is to demonstrate that we are all special to God, and important to His plan because of our unique qualities. As I mentioned earlier, this book really challenges the reader to look at the type of leader they are, or the leader they hope to be. I believe there are so many that place doubt in the minds of others, that they try to be something they are not, rather than embracing the one that God has called them to be. In the “Reflection and Discussion” portion in the chapter “From Manager to Leader,” there were four areas of leadership that I really looked deeply at, trying to pin point which one I believed myself to be. In some aspects, I could see where my ministry methods have probably touched all four categories at some point; however, my light ended up shining on “Motivator.” In my dissertation and in my ministry, my ultimate goal has always been to try and motivate others to find their calling and path with God.
It has been a pleasure to share this first year of study with all of you.