February 27, 2007
One of the principles that stood out to me was the concept of the Word (Logos) of God. Check out John 1:1-18.
John is making a very definite statement that not only was the Word from the very beginning, but the Word was with God and is God himself. The phrase "In the beginning..." would remind John's readers of the first line of the Hebrew Bible and bring to mind the process of God creating the universe.
The concept of the Word or Logos is really an expression of God revealing (making himself known) to humanity. God was made known through His Word when He created the world. He made himself known by His Word in the Ten Commandments (Ten Words). He made himself known by giving His Words to the prophets. Now, in the ultimate example of self-revelation, we have Jesus. John declares, "no one has ever seen God, but God, the One and Only...has made him known."
There are so many controversies and various points of view. There was some interesting discussion on my blog about one of those points of view (see here and here). There are also some who think they are discrediting the Christian faith by their new discoveries.
God desires to reveal himself to His creation, to make himself known to us, and He has done so perfectly in Jesus.
I really believe Jesus is the rock that people bash themselves against. People are divided over what to do with Jesus. We have to answer the question, "What do I do with Jesus?" Is He a mere man? A subordinate demi-god? A spiritual guru of sorts? Was He resurrected? Marry Mary? or Have children? Or, is He the Son of God made flesh; the very presence of God in our midst? Is He, as Hebrews 1 says, "The exact representation of God"?
For the Gospel writer, Jesus was the very revelation of God. Jesus was God made flesh, the Messiah. Those who believe (place their trust in who He is as a person) in Jesus are given life.
What do you do with Jesus?
David Plotz, after getting bored at a mat mitzvah, picked up a copy of the Hebrew Scripture and began reading. While being Jewish, he had never really read the Bible or even attempted to understand it. The story of Jacob's sons seeking revenge for their sister's rape fascinated him. This encounter led to his decision to read and blog about the Bible.
He is not attempting to be a Bible expert or to fully understand everything. Neither is he seeking to be irreverent. He is genuinely engaging the text and trying to learn from it. We get to see the Bible afresh through the eyes of newbie...very interesting.
You might also want to check out an interview with David at ChristianityToday.com
February 26, 2007
A few months ago, I had an unbelievable conversation with a retired pastor. We were talking about my call to plant a church, and he said that he had planted a church or two in his day (probably sometime after being handed the KJV from Moses!).
I began to notice a disconnect when he said, "You have to give Christians a place to gather and grow."
"I know we need strong Christian leadership, but I am not really interested in gathering the Christians from the community. I want to reach out to people who do not yet know Jesus as their Savior"
"You are not talking about church planting," he said, "you are talking about mission work."
I couldn't believe that he did not connect church planting with reaching those who don't know Jesus. Of course, maybe in a sense the problem is deeper. In retrospect, I am more appalled at the lack of "missionary" effort attached to the local church.
The church is first and foremost a missionary effort.
Around the age of 18, God began to call me into the ministry again. I felt called when I was younger, but I didn't want to be a pastor so I stayed far away from God and from the church. But about the age of 18 I was searching for some direction. God called, and this time I responded. One day I took my Bible, a devotional guide, and rode my bike 23 miles down a bike trail to a secluded area.
The entire trip I prayed, "God, if you want me to be a minister You are going to have to make it obvious."
I opened the devotional guide and read the Scripture passage assigned for that day. It was the parable of the lost sheep. I instantly knew that I was being called into ministry. Why? Because I felt the first and foremost task of the church was to reach out to those who don't yet know Jesus as their savior. But I also knew that most of the churches I had attended didn't really organize to do this. Over time, God continued to lead me down a path that led to church planting.
Here is the thing...as I plant the new church I am determined to make reaching those who don't yet know God the first priority. This will mean doing service in a way that helps them feel comfortable. This means intentionally connecting with people with songs (even secular ones), movies, etc that they understand and speaks to them. I believe we have to balance reaching out with helping people grow deeper, but I also believe that reaching out DOES help people grow deeper.
Who knows what God has in store, but I do know there are over 60,000 people in the area that, as of the last census, were unclaimed by any religious group. There are possible another 20-30,000 people who claim a religious affiliation, but haven't attended in a very long time. I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty big mission field!
February 24, 2007
Sometime between last night and this morning, my blog passed the 5,000th visitor mark.
Thank you to all who, for some unknown reason, visit. Thank you especially to those of you who are crazy enough to come back several times!
I hope to continue to give you something of value.
I have always been a supporter of open discussion. I also believe that when we discuss another person's point of view that we should be respectful enough to present it fairly and not set up straw men that are easy to knock down. Generalizations are just that: generalizations. They are not true across the board for everyone in that particular stream, but are meant to give some basic handles to understand the general concepts and principles.
I took the time to visit some of the blogs and websites of those who commented. I respect the tone and the respectfulness of those who commented. I think we all agree that we disagree on some very fundamental issues. I don't want to misrepresent their views.
I know, however, that I disagree with what I perceive to be their views, and I don't want to start a big "battle" over the differences. I cannot change their mind, but I feel strongly about mine as well. Just as they have studied and evaluated, so too have I. We have come to different conclusions.
Here are some of my observations about their beliefs (again, this may be a generalization and not true of all modern Gnostics):
1. There are multiple levels (pleroma) of gods that as they move further away from God have less knowledge of that God and may even be hostile toward him. The god who created the world is not the ultimate divinity. There is a dualism: good vs evil, yin and yang kind of thing going on also.
2. "Experience" or "Gnosis" is a direct connection to the Divine. This experience is much like experiencing nirvana in Buddhism.
3. As Jordan pointed out, Gnosticism varies in its understanding of Jesus' divinity. Some believe that Jesus is subordinately divine but not human (one of the lower gods of the pleroma). Others believe that he is human but not divine.
4. I still think there seems to be a separation of the material and the spiritual realms. There seems to be a dislike for the material and desire to escape from it.
5. Some seem to suspect the Gospels and New Testament writings as a form of supression of the truth as they see it.
6. Gnosticism was not rejected as heretical in one swoop. There were parts that have been accepted and parts that have been completely rejected throughout the history of the orthodox Christian Church.
7. They seem to be a combination of several religious structures and systems. I think one of the websites even spoke of their history in such terms. Christianity being one of them. They have elements of Buddhism, etc.
8. They do not consider themselves a heretical sect of Christianity. They hold that it started earlier.
Here is my stance:
1. I am an orthodox Christian as defined by the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds. I think the Creeds give us the boundaries of the Christian faith. I also believe that the 66 books of the Bible as we have them have been divinely guided by God. Many texts, besides the Gnostic ones, were excluded as not being "inspired."
2. I believe there to be One God in three distinct persons. Father-Son-Holy Spirit. I do not believe in multiple, lesser gods. I believe that the Yahweh of the Old Testament is the Abba Father of the New Testament.
3. I also believe that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.
4. I believe that we can experience God's presence. I don't quite understand what the Gnostics mean by experiencing the Divine other than the correspondence to the experience of Nirvana. I don't want to make too much of this because I don't fully understand their side. I do, however, think there is a difference between their understanding of experiencing the Divine and my understanding of experiencing the presence of God.
5. There seems to be a hint of "conspiracy theory" behind some of what I have read. This is just my impression, and I don't mean to demean their view in stating it that way. One website spoke of the Gospel writers attempting to hide the fact that Jesus and his disciples were Pharisees, and that Paul, despite claiming to be a Pharisee, was not.
6. I think it is sometimes easy to read things into the Early Church Fathers because they were still wrestling with what Jesus taught and who He was. Some of them espoused views that could be seen as hints of heretical belief. I think as people wrestled with who Jesus was and what He taught, they declared things heretical in bits and pieces as they determined that they didn't jive with what seemed to be part of Scripture and the Community. I think this is where we look to Tradition (capital T) to help us as well. I think that many may have had an experience similar to what the Gnostics describe as gnosis, but the true difference comes when we look at their beliefs about Jesus, the Bible, and God. The Gnostics are right, the "experiences" they describe can be similar, it is the root beliefs that are vastly different.
7. I believe that because God is the same throughout both the Old and New Testament and that He is the creator of the world, that we are holistic beings. We are both material and spiritual. I believe creation to be good, but fallen. I also believe that the atonement brought by Jesus was for all creation.
8. They don't seem to want to be considered a heretical off-shoot of Christianity, and it is probably more accurate to see them as a completely separate religious structure that has elements of the Christian faith in it. It is my evaluation that many of their beliefs stand in direct contrast to orthodox Christian faith. This just means that they are not Christian, they are a completely different religious structure.
I know I have not expressed their beliefs fully or comprehensively. Any misunderstanding is fully my own and not meant to demean those who hold them.
I think that listening to those who disagree with us and attempting to understand their views is an expression of "loving our neighbor as ourselves" which Jesus taught us. Listening and attempting to understand does not mean that we accept them as true or right; it means that we value the person who is stating them. Loving and valuing the person means that they have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. But we each have a right to disagree with each other.
Sometimes people think that listening and understanding someone means that we are accepting their beliefs as true. That is misleading. We can truly hear them and understand them, and only then can we adequately and properly disagree because we know what we are disagreeing with. Until we understand, we are not able to properly evaluate their stance and determine where we stand.
In looking at the various views, I have been drawn ever closer to affirming the orthodox expression of the Christian faith.
Those from the Gnostic churches that have visited and commented have been very respectful. They have simply attempted to be understood and not misrepresented. I should only hope they would do the same for me.
February 23, 2007
Anyway, after a conversation I had with some friends yesterday, I am very glad for that outdated seminary training I received.
The discussion started off with a rather bold question, "What do you think of Gnosticism? And why did the early church consider it heretical?"
To be honest, I struggled to remember the tenets of Gnosticism. I knew some of the basics, and the conversation was about more than just Gnosticism.
But if you thought Gnosticism was a problem for the First Century church and not for today, you are badly mistaken. Many of the Gnostic Gospels are making a comeback. People consider them the "Lost" Gospels or the "Forbidden" Gospels. They seem intrigued by the idea of a church system being secretive and fostering some sort of conspiracy. They also like the idea of a super-spiritual reality that supercedes a material world.
So I did a little research on Gnosticism to refresh my memory. Here are the keys:
1. Gnostics believed they possessed a special "gnosis" or "knowledge" that the normal Christian did not possess. It made them a sort of elite, more spiritual Christian than everyone else.
2. They believed that the material world was evil and that the spiritual realm was all that mattered. This led them to believe that God could not have created the world. They believed that the Yahweh of the Old Testament was not the same God as represented in Jesus. Yahweh was a sort of demigod that created the material world against the wishes of the God of Jesus. This also caused them to reject the humanity of Jesus Christ. Since God would never touch the matter, Jesus never really came in the flesh.
3. For the Gnostic, if Jesus were a real human he certainly was not divine. If he were divine, then he certainly was not human. He only "seemed" to be human.
4. They also held that since the material world was evil and the spiritual realm was all that mattered, their bodies could do whatever they wanted as long as the spirit was focused on God.
For the orthodox Christian, the problems should be clear. The main answer for us is that Jesus is both human and divine. He is the divine Word of God made flesh. This has been affirmed in every New Testament book.
The New Testament also emphasizes a holistic view of humanity. By this I mean that we are both physical and spiritual. There is no separation. Our spiritual side affects our physical side and vice versa.
Part of the problem with the concept of the "Lost" or "Forbidden" Gospel is the role of Council of Nicea and a misunderstanding of the Church under Constantine. It is true that when Constantine made the Christian Church an "official" religion that things changed. The misunderstanding takes place in thinking that the Council of Nicea some how dictated the books that should or should not be included in some sort of judiciary way.
They did not form a council that reviewed all the entries and then excluded some and hid others. The reality is that for 150 years prior the theologians and student of the disciples had been writing their lists of texts they felt were "authoritative." When compared with the writing of those who had actually been with Jesus, the Gnostic Gospels were found to be false. Don't worry, there were many, many Christian books that were rejected as being authoritative or on the level of "inspired" as the other books.
To illustrate I think about the American Idol competition I watched the other night. Several of the girls sang, and they were very good. But, when other of the girls sang, you could tell that they were in a completely different league.
Who knows, you may face a modern day Gnostic someday.
Check out the follow-up post here.
February 22, 2007
About three months ago, I received notification about a new version with some great resources. Because I was a "Valued Customer" I was receiving a special offer that allowed me to purchase the program before they released it to the public. After talking my wife into it, I purchased it a couple days after Christmas.
What they didn't tell me was that the only level of the version available, and that the version I purchased would not be available until NOW! But they didn't tell me this until I called them. They also have not been very forthcoming with the updates. They said that an e-mail would be sent once they began shipping, but I didn't know they were shipping until my bank account had been charged.
I am installing the program now, so it will a bit before I know whether the wait was worth it!
February 20, 2007
Seth's Blog: Compromise: How to make breakfast: "Once you start compromising, when do you stop?
If your goal is to be remarkable, please understand that the easiest way to do that is to compromise less, not more. And no, this wasn't a post about breakfast."
One of my strengths has always been the ability to take a huge amount of data, sort it quickly, and find the most pertinent and interesting. I have the ability to get a lot of things done in a short period of time. One of my friends remarked, "I don't know how you have time to do it all! You seem to read everything." But the past week, I have been feeling overwhelmed by all the information.
My Google Reader was filled with unread posts and articles. I have a couple of piles of books that scream at me for not reading them but borrowing more from the local library. I also have a lot of freelance work to catch up on and to get moving on.
So I began cutting. I began ridding myself of all the extraneous stuff.
Here are a few pointers for cutting out the excess:
1. Refocus on your priorities. What is it you want to accomplish? What are the top three to five things you want to do? Is what you are doing accomplishing one of those things? Your priorities should set the pace. If you are feeling overwhelmed, chances are you are not living according to your priorities.
2. Begin cutting. If you haven't read it, used it, or referred to it in a while, chances are it isn't worth holding on to. I found there were about 15-20 blogs that I just didn't read except for maybe 1 or 2 articles over the past few months. I cut them because 1 or 2 articles in a month is not worth the 5-6 articles a week they send to my RSS reader. You may have to do this to your e-mail or the files saved on your computer.
3. Give yourself permission to NOT DO something. Many people talk about a To-Do list, when there should probably be a longer list called the To-Don't list. This also extends from setting the right priorities and then following them.
4. Take a break. You may be feeling overwhelmed because you are tired and pushing yourself too hard. Take a break, get some sleep, spend some quiet time alone.
So how do you cut out the clutter and begin to streamline? How do you organize? What principles do you use to help you cut out the extraneous stuff?
Every so often we need to step back
February 19, 2007
As I read various articles on other blogs and through my feed reader, there is obviously more information than I could possible write about and also other people say it well. "Interesting Stuff" is just some of the extra stuff that I find interesting. Feel free to check out some of the other articles.
February 16, 2007
Yesterday I was riding in the car with my daughter. She had spent some time with her aunt while I went to the Communications Team meeting at the church.
We have this little game we play. I say, "Do you know what?" She says, "What?" Then I say, "I love!" Then she says, "I love you, too! I knew you were going to say that!"
On the car ride home, we did out little interchange, and then she said, "Do you know what most special thing God created is?"
"No, what is the most special thing God has created?"
"Love," she said.
"Who told you that?"
"No one. I was just thinking about all the things that God has created, " she said, "and I thought that the most important of anything He has created is love. Because people really can't live without love in their heart."
I almost cried. I told her that the Bible has a verse that says the most important thing is love., and she was excited to know that the Bible agreed with her.
I love it when you are faced with the reality of Jesus. He said that unless we become like children, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I got a small glimpse of that reality yesterday when God decided to teach me the importance of love in all His creation.
I have learned more about God from and through my daughter than any class or sermon I have ever heard.
February 14, 2007
Whatever brought them back...it is a good thing to see...
February 12, 2007
The article points out two things to keep in mind (to see the fuller description read the article):
First, just sentences for sin, as described in Scripture, are both proportional and prorated.Here are some things that I have come to conclude in my own thinking on hell:
Second, we must remember that it is never cruel for God to enforce penalties appropriate to crimes committed.
1. God is just. He will hold people accountable. He will judge everyone of us for the wrongs we have done.
2. God is loving and forgiving. He loves us more than we can imagine, and He will do anything he can to give us forgiveness.
3. Hell is ALSO a place on earth. For more on this simply watch the evening news. The Bible tells us that the Gates of Hell will not be able to stand against the Kingdom of God. I believe that Jesus' followers are called to take back ground from the hell on earth. We can change the world, extend God's Kingdom, and bring healing.
4. Hell is probably not what we imagine. Just as we have no clear picture of heaven, we have no clear picture of hell. Most of our theological understanding of hell is based on Dante's Inferno and not on actual biblical understanding. (Hint: Dante has even affected the way translators have interpreted the Bibles we read. Most what is described as "hell" should be translated as "the grave" or was a reference to the burning trash dump outside the city.) I am not saying that hell doesn't exist, but I am saying that our typical concept of hell may not be right.
5. We just don't know! There is no final description of what hell is like. Jesus tells us stories about the good being separated from the bad (is he talking about good people being separated from bad people OR is he talking about what is good and what is bad in us individually?) and judgment. To be honest, no one knows for sure.
6. We need to be very careful who we assign to hell! We are not the judge. We are not the jury. We are not the executioner. We are the ambassadors for a new way of life; a life given over to God. We are called to love God and Love our neighbor. I am not convinced that telling a person they are going to hell is really love. I believe helping them discover a better way is loving. I don't think we withhold from them the truth, but we don't have to lead with judgment.
This weekend I preached from Numbers 16. In it is the story of the Israelites rebelling against God and drawing on themselves His wrath. As the plague sweeps through the assembly, Moses sends Aaron into their midst with the censer of incense (the high-priestly incense of atonement). Aaron stands between the living and the dead, and the plague stops. God honors the atonement offering placed in the midst of a condemned people even though He is carrying out judgment.
We see Jesus doing the same thing...running into the midst of a sinful world to be held up as the perfect atonement for sin.
What are your thoughts?
February 9, 2007
Here is the thing, reading her bio is like watching a train wreck. My mother-in-law's pastor was sitting with me at the hospital. His response was, "That's the result of a series of bad choices!" And it certainly is the result of her choices...a life filled with one bad decision after another.
I am not the most compassionate person in the world, but I had this deep sense of sorrow for her as I listened to the report. Here is a woman who's father left the family at a young age, she has multiple half-siblings, and her family was very poor. She was pregnant at seventeen, worked as a waitress and at Walmart, and eventually posed for Playboy. She worked as a stripper, married an 86 year-old man, and her son recently died. Her life has been tragic, to say the least. (For more, see here.)
It would be easy for people to look down their nose at her, but the reality is that we all live in a broken world. Sometimes people make the decisions they do because they don't realize there is another way out there. I think a person can escape from these situations and learn to make good decisions, but it is extremely difficult. She seems to have done what she could to survive. What we see is someone who needed to be loved and wanted to be wanted. She had felt rejected and inadequate her whole life. Add to that the media/Hollywood aspect of her life, and she was set up to NEVER feel adequate. She just happened to live out this tragedy in front of a camera.
Jesus Christ came to atone for people like Anna, and, if we are honest, we are all a little like Anna. We all want to be loved, we want to feel adequate and accepted. We want to be wanted. We haven't made some of the mistakes Anna has made, but for some of us it is only a matter of opportunity. Jesus continues to speak through his church to those who feel inadequate and need to be loved.
I often wonder how many people like Anna are lost because no one from the church stepped up and did something. The church seems willing to sit around and argue about Calvinist vs. Arminianism, Contemporary vs. Liturgical, In but not Of, Grace vs. Accountability, etc, etc. Meanwhile, people like Anna are being lost and beginning the downward spiral of bad choices everyday.
Two things that Jesus said continue to deeply affect me.
1. The gates of hell will not stand against his Kingdom. Gates are a defensive mechanism. This means that we, as the Church, should be continually attacking the gates of hell and reclaiming territory for God's Kingdom and doing it in His name.
2. He left the 99 sheep to go in search of the 1. God used this passage from Matthew to call me into ministry, and it has been my passion ever since. We are called to reach lost, broken people for Jesus. Not because we want to add some spiritual notch in our belt, but because Jesus offers grace, love, acceptance, and healing.
What do you think?
February 8, 2007
Paul, having pastored a small church before, says:
1. I would spend more time in personal evangelism.
2. I would start more and different worship style services.
3. I would blog and promote it shamelessly.
4. I would other church's resources without apology.
5. I would build more teams.
It is a good post. He also balances this with the "Do less for more" principle. And he notes, in one of his comments, that in order to build the church you often have to go around the people. (See this interview with Mike Slaughter pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church).
I agree these are great things to focus on. Often the pastor of the small church plays it too safe, and doesn't try that "something new" for fear of retaliation or failure.
Having been an associate in a small church, I would encourage anyone leading a small church to take their time, get to know the church culture, and be patient. There is such thing as moving too fast and blowing the thing up. It takes a wise pastor to see where the congregation is and get them to move in a positive Kingdom direction (which doesn't necessarily mean contemporary music). Kingdom living is more than style, it is taking the Gospel into the community and seeing people transformed. Too many churches and pastors have been destroyed because the leadership couldn't be patient.
Okay, now for my list. I am listing these not in order of importance, as I see them all as important:
1. A Great Sunday Morning. I believe that Sunday morning, while not the only expression of the church, is the point where people visit and worship together in community. Visitors are searching for a place to connect, and Sunday morning is the place where this happens (along with the personal relationships they form and have formed with members). I will focus on creating a welcoming, safe environment that is relevant and helps people take one more step toward God. Great worship and a great children's ministry is vital. Space and money resources often limit the development of other times and styles unless the move is very purposeful. I also think that in a church plant, most people are there at first because you have a certain style. If you begin another service with another style, it can sometimes detract.
2. Service and Outreach to the Community. I am a strong advocate of Servant Evangelism-reaching out to the community in practical, simple ways. I believe it not only changes the way the community sees the church, it changes the people who are serving. Those serving grow in their ability to love and serve others.
3. Small groups. Developing small groups where people can connect and grow in their relationships with other people. We live in communities that are completely alone together. They isolate themselves and rarely have strong friendships with other people. Of all places, this should be happening at the church.
4. Leadership development. I am a strong believer in local leadership and the church training up leaders from within. I also believe that a church only grow so far as the leadership that is leading. Their ability to trust each other and lead into the future helps the church grow and expand the Kingdom of God. I think this encompasses Paul's idea of building teams.
5. Personal development. I believe that as the leader God has placed over the church, I have to stay healthy and keep growing. I have to exhibit a life that has healthy boundaries, good family times, and that I keep expanding my own personal horizons. I must read, write, and become a better person and leader. I must spend time in God's Word and in prayer.
I didn't include blogging because I do that anyway. I also recognize that at any moment the tactics can change. For instance, I will focus on the Sunday morning, but the style of that service and options available are always subject to change.
Thank Paul for spurring this post.
February 6, 2007
This morning I found an interview at Computerworld.com with Deborah Ancona that talks about the Myth of the 'Complete Leader.' She says that no one can do everything. Attempting to do everything only leads to burnout.
Deborah says there are four capabilities for any leader. They don't have to be have perfection in all the capabilities, but they must staff to the areas where they are weak. Here are the capabilities with my application to the pastoral role:
1. Sensemaking- this is the ability to make sense of the world around you; the culture both within and without the organization. As a pastoral leader you must be able to recognize what is going on in the culture around you, but also what is going on in the culture within the church you are leading.
2. Relating- this is the ability to build strong relationships. You have to be able to help the individual ministry teams understand and appreciate the other ministry teams. You also have to be able to help the church relate to the world and the world relate to the church.
3. Visionizing- this is the ability to provide the direction for the church. Someone has to know what the "end product" should look like. What is it you are trying to accomplish. Simply having a vision helps people know what to do, but often, and more importantly, it helps them know what not to do.
4. Inventing-this is the ability to create new ways to get to the vision. The old ways are simply not working. Culture has changed! We can spend our time lamenting that things are not as they were in the "good 'ole days," or we can take steps to reach a new generation with the Gospel.
The secret is to know your areas of strength and then find people with strength in your areas of weakness. You have to be able to give leadership away to those who are best able to get the job done. This takes trust (and time to build that trust), but will be the best for the church in the long run. There is a great chart at the bottom of the article.
February 5, 2007
I find that I think more clearly; it is easier to spend time reading the Bible, praying, and journaling; and I have a greater sense of accomplishment and self-worth by getting a lot things done before the day ever begins. The only thing I seem to procrastinate in the early morning hours is getting out of bed.
Learning to do this greatly improved how I responded as a pastor and a leader. I found myself more capable of calmly dealing with situation that arose throughout the day. I also didn't have guilt for all the things I "should" have been doing.
Much to my delight I found this article and felt great vindication! Here is the original article to which Leading Blog refers.
But the reality is that all pale in comparison to others. We never measure up in our own eyes. We feel the need to impress others by speaking differently or promoting certain aspects of our background to make ourselves look more impressive. We do this because people use lists and our achievements to classify us; to assign us worth.
Maybe this is why pastors stretch the truth?
The secret is not to compare ourselves. We are called to be what God has made us. Yes, we are called to better ourselves and to stretch ourselves to new heights, but not in comparison to someone else. I am not made like anyone else in the world. I am the only one who is able to be "ME."
And you are the only "YOU" there is. We don't all have the same capabilities. We aren't made the same. You have to figure out what it is you enjoy, that you are good at, and that makes you passionate enough to pursue it with all you have. Some people will never reach their dreams because they don't have the drive, or because they don't have the talent for the area they have chosen (For example: watch any audition from American Idol). The secret is to find where all three of these things overlap: passion, ability, and drive.
But here is something you may not want to hear: No matter how good you are, there is always someone better. I hate that notion, but it reminds us of the truth that we have to be content with who we are and what we can accomplish without comparing ourselves to others. Happiness never comes as a result of comparing ourselves to someone else; even when we think we are better than the person to whom we are comparing ourselves.
There is a great article over at the Recovering Leader.
Addendum: Here is an article by Craig Groeschel.
February 2, 2007
I recently participated in a Christian Blogger's Survey. As part of that process, we are sharing the links of all those who participated in order to help other bloggers find readers. If you have time, these are a few blogs you might want to check out.