Some look around and see that we’ve built some really cool buildings over the last several years. But we know that it’s the life that happens inside them that is most significant. I’ll always look back over the last three years and remember what we’ve built together. I don’t see buildings; I see trees. Many years from now, long after we have gone, these trees will spread their branches out and bless the dawn…
As a freshman, I found myself a lonely RA in my mandated private room. I needed a pet. So, I brought an ivy. It has stayed with me as I’ve lived the ResLife. It reminds me that living the ReLife is facilitating life and growth. It reminds me that living the ResLife is about planting orchards. So, lean into something lasting…planting trees.
It is possible to read In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by insightful Christian Formation guru, Henri Nouwen, in an hour, but to fully appreciate Nouwen’s perspective, it will take weeks to digest. Nouwen’s perspective will challenge other ideals of leadership, both inside and outside the Christian faith. His own story informs his thoughts on leadership: a brilliant scholar, whose professional resume included professorships at Yale, Notre Dame, and Harvard, Nouwen left all prestige to live with and minister to the least prestigious of people: the mentally handicapped. This journey required him to confront three temptations faced by any Christian leader, the temptation to be relevant, popular, and spectacular. Nouwen employs the life and teaching of Christ to confront these temptations with the economy of the Kingdom. In the Name of Jesus will be one hour well invested for any leader—and an investment that will return compound interest on any leader’s regular-reading list.
(This is a review that I wrote for Ouachita’s Servant Leadership Program. I’ve previously discussed this book here.)
Let’s remember today the wounds, stripes, pain, and cross of Christ. Let’s immerse ourselves into the depth of our despair: YHWH hanging, suffering, and dieing. Let’s explore these depths today so that in three days we may better understand the hope of all creation: new creation.
Grant, O Lord, that in your wounds we may find our safety, in your stripes our cure, in your pain our peace, in your cross our victory, in your resurrection our triumph, and a crown of righteousness in the glories of your eternal kingdom. (Jeremy Taylor, The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers)
At first I thought it unfair: I have an all day job interview tomorrow and an all day, pass/fail, get your diploma/not get your diploma, test next week. So much big stuff…so much pressure. Now, the night before the interview, however, I find it appropriate.
It might be a little unfair that my favorite class at UALR was Second Language Assessment (basically how best to test what you’ve taught.) From the beginning, I’ve thought of this comprehensive test as unfair and pedagogically retarded. (I’m not being hyperbolic, it’s literally less advanced developmentally as a test.) It neither adequately tests what we’ve learned to do in our program nor remotely resembles anything that we could do in the real world. (And at WC, the real world is doing something for the Kingdom.) It’s frustrating because it could (should!) be rewarding and useful and not just for the 8 hours that we’ll be locked in a room, but for the Kingdom if it were done well (correctly).
It’ll be great. It’ll be a chance for me to be me before those who understand what it is that I do and love to do, what it is that ResLife is, and why it’s such a fantastic place for life and ministry. I’m excited cause there’s little pressure. Sure, this sounds a little backwards. The test is just for a piece of paper, but this is for a job! But this is exactly the point. I’m not wondering what it is that I should share tomorrow; I just share me and what I’ve learned. Success isn’t measured in a grade, pass or fail, job or no-job. Success is showing what you’ve learned (assuming you’ve learned it 🙂 ). This is what a test should be.
The Appropriate “Comprehensive” for My Experience
The interview really is the appropriate comprehensive exam for what it is that I’ve done here at Wheaton. It gives me a chance to show how my classes have impacted ministry–to show what it is that I’ve learned and how it has been and can be used in the real world, for the Kingdom. It is a holistic reflection of what I’ve learned in and out of the classroom. I can’t help but think that this is what Wheaton College is all about.
My friend, Brandon, is an editor for Leadership Journal. He recently wrote a review of Pagan Christianity that precipitated many comments on the Leadership blog. The more I thought about our conversation, his post, and the comments left, the more I’ve felt compelled to respond myself. Here are my current thoughts:
I’m struck by the assumption that the New Testament church (whatever one means by this phrase) provides an ideal for all churches to follow. If the New Testament church were ‘ideal’ then we wouldn’t have a New Testament. Right from the start, in the Gospels, the disciples are full of ignorance. If we’re looking for a perfect group of people living perfectly together, then Acts doesn’t paint a pretty picture either. Reading past Acts into the epistles, it’s apparent that within 20-30 years of the resurrection, the church continued to suffer deeply from the influence of pagan practices, rituals, and culture. It’s also apparent that the church doesn’t shake this trend by the close of the NT. Not that this messiness is in any way ideal either; the letters of the New Testament are to messy groups of people, dealing and needing to deal with their stuff–this lands oh so close to home.
How prideful of us to think that we can somehow achieve the so-called ideal of the New Testament church without the Apostles to speak directly into our messiness and relational stuff. These guys worked tirelessly to pastor these churches along, and they didn’t achieve the ideal themselves. How could we think that we somehow can. Rather, we need to seriously consider the lessons learned by the church throughout its history. How foolish would we be if we ignored 2,000 years of lessons learned? (This also lands close to home.)
The historical institution of the church cannot be ignored. Does this mean that we should just run up the white flag and settle for something less than ideal? The authors of the New Testament surely didn’t, nor should we.
I was happy to hear that Vince Young and Michael Griffin of the Tennessee Titans (and former UT players) are going back to school in the off season to finish their degrees. With so much bad news surrounding sports figures, this is some good news that needs to get lots more press. Here’s the (very short) AP article.