“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"Maturity is increased depth of relationship"

"Maturity is increased depth of relationship" is how my friend Bryan McKinney phrased this thought. Hopefully we are all interested in maturing in our ministries whoever the focus might be. For their to be increased depth of relationship, there must be a definitive discussion on the part of those in relationship to commit to relationship and depth thereof. Maturity implies change. If it is maturity, the changes are the changes that bring relational depth. Maturity implies change.

What then are things that lead to relational depth and thereby maturity?
Time given freely, in seeking the good of others and finding out what that good is. "I didn't know" implies the potential for growth in maturity.
Knowledge of someone, who they are, what they need, what they can contribute and then facilitating that contribution.
Commitment, in that one is in the relationship through good and difficult times, embracing the changes that one needs to make in themselves in order to make relationship work.
Resources dedicated to depth of or deepening relationships, recognizing and embracing  personal cost.
Sacrifice in the willingness and conviction to give one's life for another as Christ did for us (Phil 2:1-11).
Vision for others as an aspect of spiritual maturity for all believers independent of personal characteristics (Colossians 1:28-29).
Desire for relationship and depth in relationships too.

The word increased, implies movement toward an objective that has no point of achievement or arrival. We are constantly striving, seeking betterment, seeking improvement, seeking intimacy, and constantly striving.

How does change occur? It comes through awareness intentionally, unafraid of change and of being changed, knowing Biblical plans and God's plan moving toward a vision. Knowing where you currently are so you can move forward toward a Biblical understanding of relationship among all people. Being reflective about relationship is a critical aspect of change. Intentional shepherding and care of everyone, not just from the leadership, but the responsibility of all towards all.

Some of these aspects of maturity might seem a bit redundant, but it is like a multifaceted stone that you turn around and around looking at the same thing in different ways, sometimes perhaps feeling like it's the same thing but actually revealing different facets of the the stone.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Be a thought leader

The term "thought leader" has come into vogue and is often used to describe someone who is providing leadership in the way that people think about things. If you search the term, there are lots of ideas or recommendations about how you can be a thought leader in your particular area of expertise.

In the area of disability ministry, if you are attempting to lead the ministry of a local church, you must do the work to become a thought leader. You need to understand the why of what you do. If someone were to ask you a question, you must have a response that indicates that you have thought it through. If you are unsure of how to respond to a particular question, it could mean that you have more investigation to do. Not every question has an answer, but if you want to lead others in the changes that ministry to persons with disabilities will bring, you need to have a response. And there are people available who will give you input about how to answer specific questions if you will only ask.

People don't know what to do when it comes to including persons with disabilities in the church. Sometimes because they haven't thought through the issues sufficiently, they can lead a group of people in an entirely wrong direction. I would argue that segregated ministries reveal a lack of thought. I would argue that age inappropriate ministry reveals a lack of thought.

We may have a vision that is not entirely attainable at the moment. I do! But we still must work toward the changes that need to come to achieve that vision. Sometimes thoughts lead behavior and sometimes behavior leads thought. I might tell you something that can influence your behavior. But I might also give you an experience that will change your thoughts and behavior.

I have mentioned before in this blog how I bring adult friends with intellectual disabilities to some of my university classes. I interview them briefly and then just facilitate my students having a meal and conversation with the folks. At the end of the evening they tell me how so many of their preconceived ideas were changed just with a friendly interaction over a meal. No scripted questions, nothing orchestrated other than people chatting together over a meal. This is just one way to provide thought leadership without a sermon or list of readings. If you understand the ways that change can occur, you facilitate those ways. But once again, questions will come back to you and you need to have done the requisite work to respond in a way that guides people. That is thought leadership.