DMINLGP

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

Oh to Inspire!

Written by: on September 15, 2018

I had to do a word search to confirm my suspicions after this week’s reading; the fact I found was that neither God, Jesus, the church, or Christianity were mentioned a single time in this reading. Though normally I might voice my objection to this, being this is an evangelism course, instead, I found this to be a very insightful and thought-provoking book on leadership. Seelig’s suggestions on how we as leaders may view the potentials of our endeavors before we even face them is inspiring on a number of levels. For the purpose of this writing though, I would like to focus on three particular areas that I believe have actually been influencing my own goals for my dissertation and what I hope to achieve through its writing.

While taking a college art course in my younger days, the professor gave us all a blank sheet of paper and a pencil; then, on the board in front of the class, she drew a triangle, a horizontal line, and a circle. With no other instructions, she told us all to “draw what you see with these three shapes.” The assignment lasted ten minutes and at the end of the assignment, most of the pictures were fairly simple and geometric; however, for myself, the triangle became the top of a giant barn; the horizontal line became a long thick fence that surrounded the property; and the circle became one of the wheels on the tractor that was in the process of plowing the rows of corn in the distance. As soon as the shapes were on the board, the image was in my head and I could not seem to draw fast enough to put that image on paper. Well, I have found that one of the greatest obstacles I face in my own ministry is that I always see so much potential, and yet so little time to accomplish it all. The author touched on this by writing, “We use our imagination to envision the landscape of our own life. The more imaginative we are, the more vividly we can conjure a landscape of possible paths. With a limited imagination, we’re doomed to incremental thinking, doing the same thing as everyone else, with limited variation[1].” I believe part of my goal is to inspire others to see the potential that lies within our role to lead; we have been granted this gift, but with it, we must have a purpose. I was discussing Peter walking on the water the other day[2], and there was this reality that hit me in this story; Jesus was not shocked that Peter walked on the water…He was shocked that he sank. He knew that Peter had been witness to the potential available to him; so why did he doubt?

The second thought-provoking idea came with the question, “What floats your boat?[3]” One of my greatest irritations today is when I see ill-centered motives trying to drive a biblical message. I grew up with the phrase “cherry-picking” used to describe those who would take a single verse of scripture completely out of context, simply so that they could make it sound like they had a biblical argument for something. Today, we see a number of ministries that are built around “good intentions” and yet, they seem to fail to find substance in the bible. So this question forced me to again look at my goals and ask, “Shawn, what is floating your boat in your dissertation? What do you truly hope to achieve through its writing?” Well, I was raised a highly conservative Christian that could debate absolutely any topic given to him, so it would be very easy to simply attack an issue with my writing that would “put the others in their place.” However, that is not my desire. Instead, I pictured the young shepherd boy out on the battlefield; he stood there in front of his brothers who mocked him, an army that doubted him, a king that would later hate him, and most importantly, an enemy that towered over him. So what made David’s boat float? Well, fortunately, David tells us. After running down to meet his giant foe, Goliath, David makes this speech: “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.[4]” Like David, I just want to show the true living God to the world; no fake facades and no diminished characteristics. The only way someone can come to the True Living God, is if we show them the True Living God.

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The third message that really hit home with me was found in the author’s message of “inspiration”[5]. I had the privilege of baptizing one of our congregation’s teenage girls the other day. She was so excited she was fighting back tears as we talked about her decision to follow Jesus. While taking part in this opportunity to teach her, I told her about the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8. In the story, it reads, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.[6]” This scripture used to bother me, but now I find it exciting; you see, it does not tell us what stories Philip shared; I really want to know! Did you tell him about the wedding, the blind man, raising the dead, walking on water, or did he just focus on the cross? I finally came to grips with this story and my role in it when it finally hit me…it does not matter what stories Philip told the Eunuch…it matters what stories I plan on telling to others. In the scripture, the very next verse, they come to a body of water and the Eunuch ask Philip, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?[7]” Philip inspired this man to follow Jesus with the stories he told. I can only imagine the excitement that Philip had as he tried to capture the essence of each story in such a manner that it illuminated the true glory of Jesus to his listener; I can only imagine the look on his face as he tried to relate the beauty of his Lord to this stranger. However, to truly finish the story here properly, it is what Philip says to the Eunuch in a response to his question that really motivates the man I desire to be: “If you believe with all your heart, you may.[8]” Allow me to explain. We have been blessed with the privilege of taking the story of Jesus Christ into the world; but it is not a normal story…NOT EVEN CLOSE! Instead, we tell this bazaar, fantastic tale of magic and mysticism, heroes and villains, heaven and hell, miracles, spirits, and even coming back from the dead…and then after this grand tale is told, we look at the listener and ask them, “If you believe with all your heart…” But you see, we get to tell the story! We get to be the one that inspires others to become part of the greatest story ever told. That’s just awesome!

 

[1]Seelig, Tina. Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World. P 44.

[2]Matthew 14:29-30.

[3]Seelig, p. 145.

[4]1 Samuel 17:46-47.

[5]Seelig, p. 163.

[6]Acts 8:35.

[7]Acts 8:36.

[8]Acts 8:37.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

11 responses to “Oh to Inspire!”

  1. Greg says:

    Shawn, I am glad you surgery went well.
    I appreciate you thoughts on your journey through growth and dissertations 🙂 As well as the “awesome” privilege we have to be a part of and be used for the glory of God.

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Thanks Greg. The face is hurting much more than I expected, but hopefully after Tuesday, I won’t suffocate in my sleep anymore. LOL.

  2. I agree, Shawn. It is an enormous privilege to get to tell that story. And to invite others into it. And I, too, share your desire to make His name great and His glory known to the ends of the earth. What’s amazing about our God is that there are so any ways to go about doing that very thing.

    Can you remind me of your dissertation topic?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      My topic is “Redefining Equality in the Pursuit of Spiritual Diversity.” The purpose is to demonstrate that God calls us all to our own purpose in ministry. It was prompted by something Dr. Cliff said in Capetown; “Some of these people wake up every morning, look in the mirror, and regret that they are still black.” I think there is a problem today with people feeling insufficient in their life with God, so they seek out ways to be satisfied through others, rather than realizing that God may have made us equal, but He did not make us the same or for the same purpose; we are all special. It will look at the diminishing nature of race, culture, gender, etc.

  3. Thanks for your “insight out” thoughts on Dr. Seelig’s text.

    I thought it was interesting that you stated, “Like David, I just want to show the true living God to the world; no fake facades and no diminished characteristics. The only way someone can come to the True Living God, is if we show them the True Living God.”

    Theology of Leadership Journal challenged us to understand the context of our audience and Dr. Seelig challenged us to the understand the context of ourselves. In regard to the two assignments, I found that your statement jumped off the page. All of us are all looking for ways to make God known and share Christ within our own geographical and cultural contexts; however, the way that we do that is dependent upon our personal context. That’s the beauty of the body of Christ – many parts, many languages, many political persuasions, but the same heartbeat driven towards purpose.

    In what ways has your personal experience driven you towards your specific ministry? What was your tipping point that compelled you to your purpose?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Ultimately, my “specific ministry” is still not set; my true desire is to teach college bible someday soon. I had an experience when I was in a freshman in college, many moons ago, in which a young man I was debating helped me to realize that all of my “faith” was actually tied up in the beliefs of my parents; I quoted their arguments; repeated their scriptures; and I’m sure, even used their analogies. Sadly, my realization was that I had no real beliefs of my own. Today, I refer to this syndrome as “Mom and Pop Religion.” I was not content with that though, so I found this passion to find my faith; I diligently began studying like I had never studied before, and after a while, became even more motivated by what I had learned. So my motivation today is to help people find the excitement of discovering their own faith. Yes, I will help to guide them along the way, but truly, they have to come to this relationship with God on their own…they cannot have mine. I remember the freedom I felt, but also the intimacy that came from knowing God for myself. I desire to help others feel that way.

  4. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Shawn,

    Thanks for relating your experience and how the reading spurred your dissertation this week. It is an awesome responsibility to be able to take the message of Christ to the world.

    Jason

  5. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Shawn,

    I was initially captivated by your initial feeling stated as; “I always see so much potential, and yet so little time to accomplish it all.” I wonder where you would place yourself in Seeligs invention cycle and how you generally move through the cycle and lead others to do the same.

    I was also struck by your highlighting of Peter walking on water. This event has always fascinated me. It raises many questions such as: should this be considered a miracle of Jesus and if so why did Peter sink? Who was it that Peter lost faith in Jesus or himself? Jesus was secure on the surface of the water yet Peter still sank. I have always thought that it was himself that Peter doubted, questioning his ability to do what he was currently doing. I wonder if you ever experience those feelings. I know I do frequently.

    Finally you mention the interaction of Philip with the Ethiopian eunuch. Another story that has long fascinated me. In our polarized global context and even within the Church I find the inclusion full inclusion of an individual of questionable sexuality particularly interesting.

    All of these are part of the story we get to tell. Your part, Peter’s story, the eunuch’s story and everything in between. How will these and others, along with insights gained from books that have no mention of God or faith, frame or reframe the story you will tell?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      You know Dan, I always struggle saying that “Peter doubted” at all; the fact is, the man walked on water! However, something that really related also to this reading, I do think that Peter allowed himself to become distracted. How many of us allow ourselves to do the same thing? It is not that we doubt God, or that we even struggle with the belief that He is at work, but rather that we allow so many other things to distract us from the job at hand.

  6. Chris Pritchett says:

    This is an evangelism course? I thought it was a course on leadership. Impressive that you caught the absence of any Christian representation in the book, but I was not expecting this to be a Christian book, especially since it was written by a Stanford prof. Nevertheless, like you, I found some helpful insights on leadership. Thanks for connecting it to Peter’s story!

  7. Shawn Hart says:

    Sometimes I live in that little box that Jason T. mentioned in his post. LOL. As I read the post about finances, philanthropy, etc, I realize that sometimes my box is a little too tight; I always “expect” bible. However, I hope I am not so boxed up that I fail to recognize that I can learn and grow from things that may not always be filled with scripture. I truly enjoyed this reading; it gave me some opportunities for reflection, even though it may not have been the actual purpose of the book itself.

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