Recently I had the privilege of visiting Mt. Rushmore, just outside Rapid City, S.D. The beautiful Black Hills rise from the plains of South Dakota with tall evergreen trees, amazing rock formations, pure mountain streams and gorgeous vistas.
Mt. Rushmore features profiles of four U.S. presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. The view of this masterpiece is awe-inspiring. I visited the site with Pastor Brent Parker, who commented that while he loved visiting the architectural wonder, he preferred the unobstructed views of the Dakota plains because they represent to him something close to heaven.
Isn’t it interesting how two people can be inspired by two completely different views?
Whether it’s our opinions about ministry, marriage or a preference about something as basic as our favorite major league baseball team, differing views can make life more interesting. Differing views can also challenge us and test our resolve to move forward in unity.
The cornerstone of a strong marriage, for example, settles not on the differences, but on the power of agreement. This agreement supersedes our different views and unites us around those things on which we agree.
This is true about ministry as well as marriage. What I have discovered in my 30 plus years of ministry is that when people connect more around mission than around style or preference, a synergy exists that moves vision forward, empowers one another and strengthens the relationship. Focusing on the preferences—rather than the mission—is like watching the dashboard rather than the highway while driving a car.
When we get bogged down in the details (which do at times need to be vigorously discussed and debated) we tend to lose sight of the larger perspective of our primary call. Succinctly stated, our primary call is to reach the lost, disciple leaders and multiply churches. This should be the core of our ministry focus—but how easily we become bogged down in polity, governance, budget, policy and process!
While acknowledging the absolute necessity of attention to detail, my exhortation is to keep a constant view through the front windshield and occasionally glance at the dashboard and the rearview mirror. Stay flexible, reviewing the changing scenarios to the left and the right—and you’ll likely avoid an unfortunate collision.
A philosophy of life that excludes the views of others can be very limiting. Life is not generally lived out with an exclusive attitude of “either/or” but rather a more inclusive philosophy of “both/and.” I want to be aware that I tend to view life through a particular personal vantage point filled with my preferences, but this journey with a body of believers demands that I see life from the perspective of others and that I find ways to relate.
After all, “How can two walk together unless they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Let’s ask the Lord for a 360 degree view of life. Let’s acknowledge that we need each other to finish well—even if some of us prefer the Yankees over the Red Sox!