DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Courage

Written by: on June 4, 2015

 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this week’s articles mostly because they beautifully articulated, “an itch I’ve been wanting to scratch.” I’m guessing this week’s readings would resonate with any one who finds themselves in leadership. The longing question Len asks, “How do we walk with God into a new future – an unknown place?[1]” is the question I go to sleep pondering many nights.

One needs only to look at this month’s front cover of Vanity Fair to acknowledge we are living in a time of liminality, “a space in-between, a transition point, where old and new collide.[2]” The Church mistakenly looks at this transition as a time to stand our ground and define right and wrong, when instead the Church should acknowledge this transition as an opportunity to embrace uncertainty and chaos, knowing “humans thrive with stability – but the gospel seems to thrive on the edge of chaos.[3]

While everything seems to be changing we must also remember that nothing has changed at all. With liminal space in abundance and uncertainty all around, the Gospel hasn’t changed and we are walking through chaos much like many other generations of believers have before us. Through all of history the Church has navigated the waves of culture and the Kingdom has continued to grow.

I think it’s important for believers today to understand the history of the Church, how those that have gone before us have navigated their culture, and for current believers to understand as best we can the times we currently find ourselves. What can we learn from the past and what can we learn from our current time/place in this world?

This week’s readings helped me understand that we need less answers and we need more courage and innovation. Margaret Wheatley says, “We really don’t want any more meetings because all we’ve done for years is accuse and yell at each other, trying to push our own agenda through this very dense resistance.[4]” Wheatley goes on to say, “So courage is what we need, and the source of that courage is recognizing that the questions, doubts and desires that move in me move in everyone else as well.[5]” As leaders we must have courage to enter into conversations not pushing an agenda and not knowing the answer, but instead trusting that our vulnerability and the process will lead towards true connection with one another and will result in a new way to engage our community for the sake of the Kingdom.

So “How do we walk with God into a new future – an unknown place?[6]” This is the question that looms within me but it is also the question that for two thousand years believers have been asking. Everything around us is changing and nothing is changing at the same time.

Father, I pray you give us the courage to ask questions we don’t know the answers too, the courage to seek your Kingdom instead controlling the small manageable kingdoms we try to create. Bring us to the end of ourselves and help us to again learn how to be in this together. All for the sake of Jesus. Amen.


 

 

[1] Leonard Hjalmarson, Broken Futures: Adaptive Challenge and the Church in Transition, Unpublished, Chapter One.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Margaret Wheatley & Pema Chodron, “It Starts with Uncertainty,” Shambala Sun, November 1999.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Leonard Hjalmarson, Broken Futures: Adaptive Challenge and the Church in Transition, Unpublished, Chapter One.

About the Author

mm

Nick Martineau

Nick is a pastor at Hope Community Church in Andover, KS, founder of ILoveOrphans.com, and part of the LGP5 cohort.

14 responses to “Courage”

  1. mm Brian Yost says:

    “While everything seems to be changing we must also remember that nothing has changed at all.” Great point, Nick. Are the challenges we face more difficult than those faced by Christians since the book of Acts? While the specifics may be different, is the essence really different? Christian living in China had to learn how to be the Church in secret. British Christians had to learn to navigate the years of the Industrial Revolution and an attack on the very core of the family. We should not claim the challenges of leadership today as an excuse for ineffectiveness, rather we should embrace the fact that God still has a purpose and suffers no confusion.

    • mm Jon Spellman says:

      Brian and Nick. I can understand the big-picture perspective, that there’s nothing new under the sun, challenges to fidelity have always occurred down through the history of the church but I want to pose a question based (Nick) on your reference to the Vanity Fair cover.

      When it comes to the cultural embrace of self-defined genders ,are we in a liminal place really? Or have we moved to the other side of liminality into a new, widely embraced norm? Is the debate still going on or has it been settled, culturally speaking I mean? It seems that there is a widely accepted, cultural norm that says “Do what you want! Define your own self in all terms however you feel!” If you feel differently, you are on the wrong side of the vast majority. If we are in a Liminal state, then the “next” stage is still undetermined, in regard to this issue, is it still undetermined?

      Where are we as a culture?

      • mm Jon Spellman says:

        Funny, even as I hit “submit” on my comment, I look up and the daytime television show in the coffee shop is running another day’s worth of fawning over “Caitlyn”, declaring “her” to be “courageous” and “hero.” Doesn’t feel very liminal to me. Feels decided… And I’m in the minority.
        J

        • mm Nick Martineau says:

          Good question Jon…Culturally I think it’s been decided but (unfortunately) the Church is lagging behind. I feel like the Church seems to be living in a liminal space as we try to figure out how to respond.

          • Jon Spellman says:

            So our liminality is in reference to our response to the cultural reality. That’s a good insight…

  2. Phillip Struckmeyer says:

    Nick, “This week’s readings helped me understand that we need less answers and we need more courage and innovation.” So true, yet so difficult to live. I am not sure I like the word maturity. I never have really, but especially in light of our reading and the kind of faith I want to live and lead. Maturity in so many Christian circles becomes our definition and defense to stay the same. Courage needs to trump maturity if we are going to see the Church respond to culture in our day. Great prayer to wrap it up!

    • Jon Spellman says:

      Courage trumps maturity… I like that! But isn’t courage a hallmark of maturity?

      • mm Nick Martineau says:

        I’m not sure courage and maturity coincide. Many relate courage to safety and if that’s the case then many younger people are more courageous…but that also might make them reckless.

  3. mm Travis Biglow says:

    God’s blessing Nick,

    One of the ways i find it easy to walk with God during a time of uncertaintty is to not be afraid of change and you have to have faith. I know that might sound mundane but it really is the solution. Many leaders wont dare move out of their comfort zone even for God. And stability is a major requirement for them to keep serving God. But in this article we learned that we have to be able to deal with chaos and uncertainty. Uncertainty has become common place for me now and it is more comfortable than certainty because we walk by faith not by sight. And i know that when i am uncertain that its mostly because i am having real faith in the unknown and God is already there in the unknown. Blessings Nick

  4. mm Dave Young says:

    Nick, you said: “As leaders we must have courage to enter into conversations not pushing an agenda and not knowing the answer, but instead trusting that our vulnerability and the process will lead towards true connection with one another and will result in a new way to engage our community for the sake of the Kingdom.”

    So that pretty much describes our elder meetings. Not a lot of clarity, but a lot of mutual respect. Individual passions are communicated and we can see that each member has gifting, and a norm that they’re comfortable with – but without an agenda we’re trying to trust one another and be vulnerable to each other and the Spirit. Frankly, since my tendency is to push for a plan, this practice has been frustrating at times – even though I think it’s more Spiritually genuine. Now it seems like it all might be coming to a head, external pressures on the church seem to be adding tension. A great time for a Spirit Filled innovation – if you ask me. Thanks Nick, for your post – it encourages me we’re going in the right direction – even it’s a meandering route.

    • mm Nick Martineau says:

      Dave, I think I’d like your elder meetings…many church meetings error with to do lists and tasks. Pretty rare to hear about your group. That’s pretty cool.

  5. Hmm. This post and the responses touched me. I’m not sure all of why. But I know that when a conversation goes from my head to my heart something important is happening, and I’m ready to learn something.

    Courage is a quality that is “other” than pessimism or optimism. And as people of faith, it should be a common quality among us. Yet — it’s not. But maybe the small candles we see in the darkness are enough if we have faith. These few quotes came to mind —

    “For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
    but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”
    Vincent van Gogh

    Kubler-Ross – “People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”

    “Hope is the ability to hear the music of the future, faith is the ability to dance to it today.” Rubem Alves

    And one more, and I share it because our pessimism may tell us more about ourselves than about a biblical anthropology.

    “It is everyone’s inclination to make of his own disability a universal truth.” Vivian Gornick. The Situation and the Story, 2001. 135.

    • mm Nick Martineau says:

      Len…These quotes are great. I’ll been saving these so I can reference then again later. I love the Kubler-Ross stained glass quote.

      I also really appreciate your insight of “Courage is a quality that is “other” than pessimism or optimism.” I had never thought of that before.

  6. Mary says:

    You parallel much of what we, as a church, experience with all of church history. I also notice that it parallels your own journey in the transition with the senior pastor. Your doctoral work is on how to make the transition well, is it not? Sounds like there is a balance between doing something with the knowledge you have while holding lightly the liminal spaces, those things we can’t control. Your acknowledgment of courage is another reminder of how intentional you are being, Nick, as you seek God’s guidance through this threshold time.
    By the way, I love your prayer at the end. Have I read that before? I especially appreciate “bring us to the end of ourselves” as I see that’s where we sin (since we’ve spoken about our depravity quite a bit in our blogging this time around) more than anywhere else – trying to do it ourselves. I recently heard Denzel Washington use a story for a graduation speech about making sure your slippers are far enough under the bed so that when you get up in the morning the first thing you have to do is get on your knees. I actually think it was someone else who told the story first, but hopefully you still get the point – we become the kind of leaders we’ve addressed our posts through praying…a lot! 🙂

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