I have been in a time of contemplation of late. I am not writing much (other than sermons) for I fear I have done about all I can with what I presently know. My quest in these days has not been to better articulate, illustrate or offer rationale on why I think the way I do or to persuade people as to why they should be more like me. It is quest of the soul; the look in before you look out again, hoping to see things differently once you do.
In my college years, I sought knowledge, mostly knowledge to offer empirical testimony to convictions already held. I had a wealth of opinions, attitudes and positions all in some need of support. The ones that held true, I “hid in my heart” and the ones that failed me became victim to my scathing sarcasm shared in both word and song. In my seminary years, I was forced into a foreign world of theological and political thought I had never encountered, Once again, my quest was to prove the rightness of my present positions in light of new (and often disturbing) information. Without a doubt, I emerged from seminary widely read and more seasoned but I emerged simply a meaner, leaner version of the me who entered three years prior.
The twenty-three years since, have been ones of reading, reflecting, serving and engaging in conversation with people of all persuasions and such endeavors have made me somehow more humane, gentle and less cynical in my public persona. But something new is happening within me, a shift is occurring. It is evidenced by a veracious appetite to learn; not for the purpose of perfecting church growth technique or offering an apologetic for my positions but simply to become a better human being. If you strip it all down, “I want to be more like Jesus.” It would appear that my first half life-quest to be “right” has morphed into a quest to be Christ-like in the second half. I want to gain new perspectives, drill deeper into Scripture, read new books, talk to different people and seek to…understand. I do not expect that my positions on hot button issues, theology or politics will much change, but I am in sincere hope that I will change. I want to teach what He taught, model the Kingdom and be disturbed by the things that disturbed Jesus.
I have been called by God and equipped to lead in the Church of Jesus Christ. But the leadership that has brought me to this point was conducted in a very different America than the one in which I live today. There has always been a vision in my heart concerning the church. This dream is to get right what religion often gets wrong, to be a place of hope, healing and salvation, to remind people that God is for them and not against them, to name sin and point to forgiveness and to offer a witness so clear, crisp and powerful it transcends the things that divide. If I am to be that kind of leader in the second half of my life, I must change.
I have been in a time of contemplation of late…