Paul Windsor, blogger, former principal of Carey College, and current associate director of Langham Preaching, of which Kiwi-Made Preaching is an initiative, came back to Carey this week and was interviewed over our community lunch. As usual he had lots of challenging stuff to share. Some thoughts that resonated with me:
Obedience first then gifts
Paul put his finger on what often bothers me about the Christian obsession with Myers-Briggs and other "gift-finder" type methods. They suggest that our job is to find out what we are good at and enjoy and then our obedience lies in doing those things. Paul, on the other hand argued that for the Christian our obedience lies in seeking God's will for our lives and then trusting him to provide the gifts we need to obey. The gifts don't define our obedience, our obedience is followed by gifting.
Gifts don't define effectiveness
Paul also spoke out against the assumption that our effectiveness in ministry is defined by how good we are at certain tasks but instead by our weaknesses. Our awareness of our weaknesses and our willingness to deal with them and allow them to be areas in which God's grace works is what will primarily affect our effectiveness.
The need for maturity as well as mission
Paul shared how in the developing world they had no problem with mission but were mostly concerned with how to grow in maturity. He contrasted this with the west where we talk about mission constantly but worry little about maturity. His concern with the NZ situation is that the church's concern to be involved in community work and being "salt" to the community around them was not matched by an equal investment in growing in God's word and being "light." I thought that was an interesting challenge, should we seek to match our investment in outreach/mission with our upreach/growing in maturity?
Humility and the "C.V" culture
Paul also talked about humility as being a critical virtue for Christian ministry. Interestingly he related this critically to the "C.V." culture where we believe we should apply for ministry roles by putting our best attributes on a piece of paper and sending that off to a prospective employer. Having sent off a few CVs in my time for ministry roles I could relate to what he was saying. I had definately felt uncomfortable with the rather one-sided portrayal of myself and also with the danger that people would be atracted to me as a candidate because of what I had done and could do instead of whether or not they discerned that God was calling me to that role! On the other hand I could see little point in listing every human weakness (I have them all) knowing that that would result in my disqualification from any role. He remarked that he had a set of questions which he asked when making appointments at Carey, and always found those much more enlightening. I'm quite tempted to ask him to provide an example set of questions, and prepare my own "anti-C.V." How should those committed to the service of Christ present their credentials in those times when they are asked to?
Let me know what you think :-)