Wednesday, July 11, 2007

nobody knew his secret ambition

i have never been able to understand the role that personal ambition plays in the christian life. i realize that Jesus' secret ambition was to give his life away, generations of my evangelical forbears sought to accomplish the great commission through individual conversions and in more recent times mainstream protestants and their emergent stepchildren redirected the church's focus to proclaiming and incarnating the Kingdom of God. but, up until this point in my life, i haven't learned how to develop a sense of personal ambition that benefits rather than detracts from the larger ecclesial, local and international communities of which i am a part.

on account of my confusion i have pretty much ignored stephen covey's immortal advice to "begin with the end in mind" and have simply tried to respond to vocational and occupational opportunities as they arise. fortunately, my ambivalence towards personal ambition has yet to wreck much havoc in my life. in fact, i suspect that the aforementioned approach has saved me from a number of significant personal mistakes, such as stepping into professional christian positions before i was mature* enough to handle the responsibility and yielding to mr. dewitt's wishes by succeeding walt jocketty before the 2004 season.

but, as i break into my thirties, i realize that if i do not take a more active interest in shaping my personal vocational and occupational worlds others will be only too happy to fashion these worlds for me. thus, in lieu of submitting myself to the service of the other's
** ambitions i am going to take the risk of setting my course, fixing my sights and venturing forth.

i only hope that if my ambition doesn't exactly align with God's, it's not totally at odds. moreover, in the midst of this process i hope that the value i place on living for others is not eclipsed by my rather lamentable tendency towards radical individualism.

* read: slick, pragmatic and political.
** some of whom i love and respect.


TheFM said...

"i haven't learned how to develop a sense of personal ambition that benefits rather than detracts from the larger ecclesial, local and international communities of which i am a part."

That may be their problem and not yours. Its been my experience that a perceived "detraction" by the largely dysfunctional church is often times little more than a result of your rejection of the status quo, and "unwillingness" to "get along". IMO it simply serves as a reminder that we are indeed strangers in this world.

You need to push all that crap aside and make up your mind...its your walk, and if you're doing right by God then the result of such is not your concern

TheFM said...

The entirety of the second paragraph sounds a whole lot like laziness, dude...dont take offense because I am speaking from personal experience, because lazy:)

It's easy to go with the flow, because going against it is obviously much more work...and can be dangerous. Yet its been my experience that "going with the flow" and taking the easy road is almost entirely unsatisfying spiritually...and thats why you refer to yourself as a "jaded optimist". I can certainly relate to that.

You avoiding "significant personal mistakes" is an assumption and I would suggest that is also linked to either laziness or fear of failure. I've done nothing but get crapped on since I began ministry..."personal mistakes"? maybe, but regardless persevering through trial shapes us, makes us, matures us. I am 30 years old, and JUST NOW coming to real terms with who I am and the unique significance of my walk with God.

I could be entirely off base as I'm sure you've looked at yourself in all honestly and have done some significant self-evaluation, but in the sweeping generalization sense ...there's alot of truth to what I'm saying.

I think *&$# the man-made church of Isaiah 29:13, I'm getting too old, too fast to jack around with these self-righteous I grab tight onto my pearls and my walk goes on.

TheFM said...

Last part of your post:

you dont have any other choice... the church has been at the mercy of unspiritual leadership for far too long, and somebody has to turn the tables and give em the ol' "woe are you...".

Its God's job to change things, but its your job to stand in the gap. Cant have one w/o the pray that as you do your job, God will do his.

Screw "security", its worthless is the devil's bait to keep you lazy and quiet. Security is comfort...and the desire of these things come as a result of fear. Fear is the lack of faith...Fear of failure, fear of apostasy, fear of hedonism and self-indulgence, fear of intellectual pride and the rejection of God...all lies to keep you at bay. Have some faith're too focused on self. We all know that by ourselves, we fall into darkness very quickly. Have faith in can be educated in all the ins and outs of church theory but at some point you gotta practice it, and its a big difference. You'll jack something up from time to time maybe alot of things...but 2 steps forward and 1 step back is still progress baby! Figure you live to be 70...with 40 years of progress, you might even accomplish something:)

I believe in ya brutha'

g13 said...

spencer, you're an A1 original. welcome to the conversation.

when i originally read your comments, and didn't know who the hell you were, i was tempted to say f*ck you, 'cause
but you used to share a house with me, so you know a little something.

sorry to hear about your recent church experience. i'll try to set aside some time to pray for you and your family. pax.

btw - when did you become a musician? if memory serves, when we lived together you didn't play a "uke" or any other damn thing.

TheFM said...

oh I had been tinkering on the guitar for probably a couple years at that point...and I wasnt too bad then.

Once I picked up my roommate's guitar my sophomore year, I got to really liking it. Then about 4 years ago, I got my first "gimme" guitar and it all kind of took off from there.

The banjo and uke were pretty recent adds right about the end of March...but already having a guitar and mandolin, its easier to learn new ones. I'm not a musician though...I'm mostly science and no art still, but working on it.

I'll post more on my blog about this recent craphole church after I get my severance pay in-hand. I actually had several posts up already but removed them, foreseeing a potential fiasco.

But as far as where you're at...I completely resonate with you because I'm only a half step or so ahead of you. I might not be carrying quite so much emotional baggage around with me, but once you decide to unload it, it dont take long to get clear and breathe easy.

But I'm just basing all this on assumptions made from your post...not really alot to go on so I could just be a know-it-all boob.

g13 said...

it's really good to hear from you man. i'll look forward to those posts.

as for baggage, i definitely have some but the past five years of ministry have been really good to me and mine. i've been a part of a house church for most of that time and that community experience has taught me much about God's goodness, beauty and truth.

it's only recently, as i've started to contemplate the idea of eventually "going viral" by investing in a more traditional church, that i've begun to question the proper relationship of ambition. in addition, recent events at my day job - where i serve as an employment specialist for young adults with disabilities - have reminded me that i can either utilize my ambition to help shape my context for the good of others or expect to be fully utilized on behalf of other's ambitions and live wholly in worlds of their creation.

whew, talk about a tortured sentence.

anyway that's a little of what's going on here. keep your head up and remember the way of the master: STRIKE FIRST. STRIKE HARD. NO MERCY SIR.

TheFM said...

invest in your relationship with God...the rest falls into place.

house church sounds that into a community and you're living the dream.

not much going on evicted on June 18th...fired on the 21st and given 60 days...wife was due in 68 days with new kid. So other than losing my house and my job with my wife 7+ months pregnant...everything is just peachy.