Monday, October 29, 2007

The Caring, Compassion, and Charity Meme....

My friend and fellow Wikiklesia Contributor, Ed Brenegar, tagged me with a meme on Caring, Compassion, and Charity. The instructions were:

In a new blog post, list and write about the top 1 or 2 causes that simply make your palms sweat, your heart bleed, and send tears rolling down your cheeks. Make sure you tell everyone why this cause is so important to you as an individual.

I have been pondering this, wondering what to say—waiting for the swirling mass of things that touch my heart to settle. And out of that mass, the one that floated to the top surrounds the dearth of truly Christ-like servant leadership in the church.

Not that there aren’t many fine leaders out there—laying down their lives and giving their all for the sake of the call. But there aren’t enough to go around—and too many of the ones we have don’t seem to be actively apprenticing those who will serve with them and rise up to take their places. (This post could probably be classified as a borderline R2A2…)

When I see leadership in the church that runs the gamut from spiritual neglect to spiritual abuse, my palms sweat with a mixture of pain and fear. Pain for clueless leaders doing the best they can without proper training or guidance—and for the many followers wounded by those who unwittingly misrepresent God’s will and God’s way. Fear for the damage done to both the leaders and followers who collectively make up Christ’s Bride—as well as to Christ’s reputation in the world.

My heart bleeds for church leaders, paid and volunteer, who are taken advantage of, used up, and discarded—exhausted, embarrassed, angry—with no thought as to how they might yet be able to serve in God’s Kingdom after they have somehow managed to fail. One after another they submit to this cyclical abuse out of ignorance and a faulty sense of loyalty…and then just seem to slink away, crushed. The walking wounded, collateral damage of the most tragic kind of friendly fire.

Tears roll down my cheeks as I watch them try to smile and rationalize how God has called them to something or somewhere else. And all the while they are held hostage to a mistaken sense of long-suffering and duty to keep a unified face—keeping up appearances, don’t you know.

Not that I don’t value unity, now. Far from it! What I don’t value is intimidation or domination or fear masquerading as unity…or love…or leadership. And, remember, I’m not talking about leaders who lose their First Love through pride and arrogance and ambition—intentionally and selfishly taking advantage of everyone and everything in order to get—and stay—on top.

I’m crying for the precious members of the Body of Christ who have been brainwashed into accepting this methodology as God-honoring and appropriate. The brothers and sisters who have abdicated their responsibilities as members of the Royal Priesthood of the Saints of God for the safety and comfort to be found along the path of least resistance called submission and obedience—to men rather than to God.

You may be thinking, “Gee, I thought this was supposed to be about caring and compassion and charity?” It is…but it’s more a story of Tough Love.

If you’ve been following my stories about Irina and the women political prisoners with her in the Small Zone, you may be able to understand that this is currently leading me to a boiling point concerning true love for your neighbor as your self. The kind that refuses to allow self and others to be treated contrary to God’s law. The kind that sees covenant-breaking as missing the mark—that’s right, as SIN!

The prisoners of the Small Zone were successful in breaking down their captors and gaining their freedom—and inspiring those around them in prison and in the free world—by being willing to stand together for each other against those who broke the law—the laws that applied to prisoners. When their rights were trespassed against, they banded together and agreed upon the action they would take—whether it be a hunger strike, letters of complaint, or smuggled news to the outside world.

I am not suggesting that the situation in most churches is this dire. Nor am I suggesting that the needed response from most church members be this intense. But I am suggesting that there needs to be a day of reckoning in churches where the leadership has been empowered by the members to neglect their responsibilities to truly love and equip the saints for the work of ministry in favor of out-sourcing, efficiency, balanced budgets and a fa├žade of unity.

Jesus Christ, our Victorious Lord, has set us free from bondage to sin and death…and I weep for my brothers and sisters who have accepted the shackles of institutional and hierarchical ease and comfort built on intimidation and domination rather than embrace the dying to self that comes with learning to speak the truth in love.

Onto this river of burning tears, God has set afloat the vision for CovenantClusters—where loving and truth-speaking disciples equip disciples to make disciples. I am drawing up the plans to form the life and rhythm of the community, eager to welcome the companions God is preparing to join me in this journey. God help me build strong sails and learn to set them wisely so as to be propelled forward by the wind of the Holy Spirit…even as St. Brendan set out, praying: “O Christ, will You help me on the wild waves?”

The Abbess says a hushed "Amen" and, whom shall she tag? Ah, yes...these three will do nicely:

Matt Stone

Brad Sargent

Janet Woodlock


Janet Woodlock said...

Love this post... I agree completely... I seem to have heard of so many "walking wounded" from spiritual abuse lately... it is the absolute opposite of the way of Christ "the greatest among you must be the servant of all". It's the hypocrisy of it all (and hypocrisy makes me really mad!!!!)

I'll have to give some thought to the question though... and try to get an overdue essay out of the way before I write my own diatribe about something....

AbiSomeone said...

Thanks for being game for being tagged, sister! And for your words of encouragement.

Amazing, how many leaders just don't seem to get the whole picture of the "servant" thing...boggles the mind!

Christ have mercy....