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.” 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, 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?” 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.” 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.
The third message that really hit home with me was found in the author’s message of “inspiration”. 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.” 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?” 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.” 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!
Seelig, Tina. Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head and Into the World. P 44.
Seelig, p. 145.
1 Samuel 17:46-47.
Seelig, p. 163.