I love the story about the four-year-old strong willed-child told by John Ortberg in his new book The Me I Want to Be. The youngster wanted to go AWOL on her tricycle and the mom set some boundaries. Her daughter could ride on the sidewalk between the big tree and the driveway. If she crossed those boundaries, she would get a spanking, clear and simple. The child replied, “Well, you might as well spank me now, because I’ve got places to go.”
Proverbs tells us that if there’s activity in the barn, then the stall will not be clean. The reference indicates that we can choose between cleanliness resulting from inactivity or participation and the resulting mess that comes along with it. Many cathedrals around the world sit empty today, monuments to a once compelling vision that lost its focus somewhere along the way.
If we opt for order and policies instead of a culture and environment that foster creative entrepreneurship we may end up overseeing a ministry that has no ministry. It can become a title without functionality. It may even include significant authority and responsibility—but responsibility for what?
Jesus was willing to risk much to take on the assignment of shaping emerging leaders. They were rough around the edges, certainly didn’t share his values (at first), questioned everything, displayed a wide variety of emotions, and colored outside the lines. They were exactly the kind of raw material that He was looking for. Jesus figured if He could channel their energies, redirect their passions and have them buy into a “kingdom first” view of life, then they would be the most committed and focused keepers of the mission anyone could hope for.
Parents often only reward the compliant child and fail to discern the potential of the wayward one. There is a difference between being rambunctious and being rebellious. Let’s loosen up a bit. It’s good to remember that someone somewhere believed in us and allowed us to make mistakes. The Lord may be linking us with powerful allies in this war against the kingdom of darkness. We need more strong-willed leaders. It will be worth it.
Prayer Focus: Lord, help us discern the potential of those around us. Help us to shape their potential and not stop it. Stretch us, so that our influence is broad not narrow. Search us, so that our motives will always be about expanding your kingdom and not ours.
Glenn Burris Jr. is president-elect of The Foursquare Church