There is one thing that is necessary for someone to truly understand me, I’m a dreamer and an idealist. I believe in striving for the best, even if it might not be obtainable. I believe virtues are more than abstract morals but actually tangible qualities of living. I’ve been told to come down to reality, to see things for how they are and to accept them and move on, many times in my life. I don’t think that’s totally right though. I think there is more to the world than what we can see and that you should accept the fact of how things are, but not accept that it has to stay that way. The idea that I should bring my expectations and beliefs down to reality is impossible for me to fully comprehend. It may sound narcissistic but I believe it should be the other way around. Who decided that “X” has to be just “X” or that there is no such thing as “Y”?
Everything that is, once wasn’t. At one point there was no universe, Earth, cities, art, or people. They were fiction. They were imagination. They didn’t exist, until one by one they were made. An all-wise God had a plan and he brought it into reality. He decided to make a universe, our planet and us.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…. God created man in his own image” – Genesis 1:1, 27
He made us in his image. His image gave us the tools and traits of a creator and so like our Maker, we created things. We built cities and made art and thought of ideas. The first act of creation allowed us to build on it and continue to build upon each subsequent act of creation.
One day some group of people came up with the idea to harvest fruit. We realized it was good. Then later those groups built on that and thought to farm it. We did that and had lots of it. Then some other group entirely came up with the idea that maybe we don’t want to be ill. Then someone took that and said maybe we can stop ourselves from becoming ill. Then someone thought to take those plants we farmed and made medicine from them and eventually stopped people from being ill. At the beginning medicine was entirely unthought of, but by each step of creation they came to a point where it was able to be made tangible. By never being satisfied with the current status quo they made progress step by step. We are where we are because individuals refused to confine themselves to reality. What if more of us were willing to embrace that concept?
Look at a blank canvas. It requires imagination and motivated intent to fill it with something, to make it something else or create something new. Reality is a canvas. When we say “that’s just the way it is” or “this is all there is” we are saying that the canvas can only be blank, that it can’t be changed and that it can’t be made into something new. The fact is, that just isn’t true. We aren’t limited by our reality, reality is limited by us and our willingness to stretch our minds and dare to think of new things. It’s scary but someone must always take that first step and speak out.
Switchfoot really gets this idea well. In their song, “The War Inside”, they have these lyrics:
“Yeah, every thought or deed
Yeah, every tree or seed
The big things come from the little dreams
Every world is made by make believe”
And in their song “The World You Want”
“Is this the world you want?
Is this the world you want?
You’re making it
Every day you’re alive…
….You start to look like what you believe
You float through time like a stream
If the waters of time are made up by you and I
If you change the world for you, you change it for me”
What then? Well I’d repeat the words of Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” You in many different ways have the ability to change your world, internally and externally. When you are stuck in unfavorable circumstances that can’t be changed at the moment, you can still change how you respond. That’s probably the most important component, only you get to choose that. In this internal way, you create how you view the world and free yourself to change the world instead of the world changing you.
Which if there is a more hopeful idea, I’ve yet to hear it. Whatever life is to you right now. You are free to change it, to improve on it. To make it something beautiful and to put your own unique touch on it. Seriously what sentence is more freeing than this? Your reality is subject to you. That doesn’t mean it’s easy or that reality changes willingly. But it means that there is a choice to be made and steps to be taken.
Here’s the thing though. Too often, society buys into the state of reality. We love the status quo. It’s safe, it’s easy and it’s boring. We look at those who hold to their imagination, ideals and dreams as modern day Don Quixotes, wayward, well-meaning fools. And when they fall short, or their dreams are smashed, we laugh and say, “Welcome to the real world!”. Truth is we do that because we are afraid. We are afraid for them to succeed, afraid for them to challenge our beliefs, our ways of life. We laugh in fearful ignorance.
But when they succeed. And we are where we are today, because many have succeeded, the whole world stops laughing. And maybe they embrace it, or maybe they fight it. But once you release change into the world, there’s no going back.
I guess this is that Matrix moment. You’ve been given the choice, now you got to choose. Ignore your ability to change the world or embrace it and open your eyes to the horizon. It’s up to you. Your decision.
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” – Robert Fulghum
“I believe in the power of the imagination to remake the world, to release the truth within us, to hold back the night, to transcend death, to charm motorways, to ingratiate ourselves with birds, to enlist the confidences of madmen.” – J.G. Ballard
Leader or Servant?
Leadership, something I’ve always revered. A leader, something I’ve always wanted to be. I asked and thanks to God, I received. He has blessed me with a some excellent leadership opportunities over the last few years. I want to dispense some of those things, I’ve learned in my short time in those shoes.
Jesus was and is, a leader. No doubt about it. He led His disciples, He conducts over all creation, etc. However, for most of the bible, beyond public speaking, you see very little “leading”. What do you see?
Instead you see a servant. He puts others over himself numerous times. Why is that? Well first look to Mark 10:45. Now there is your reason: he wasn’t here to lead. He was here to serve and to sacrifice. That may make you speculate, so was he a leader? Well, it’s clear all throughout the Word that Jesus is, most certainly, a leader.
The answer lies in that to lead, you must serve and sacrifice. A leader isn’t a station of exaltation, all on it’s own. A leader removes “self” from the equation and instead takes on a role for all who he leads over. His “self” is still there but it’s after everyone else. A leader after doing that, takes on the worries, issues, and situations of the group and makes it his main priority. There lies the sacrifice. You sacrifice “self” and all the baggage that comes with that for the greater good. The honor that often comes with being a leader, is a result of that sacrifice. It’s an honor because it’s laborious. If it was straightforward everyone would be a leader. Leadership as we all know requires an abundance of responsibility and competency. That is because of that sacrifice, it’s not easy to keep and hence takes a whole lot to keep that commitment.
Matthew 20:16 “In the same way, the last will be first, and the first will be last, because many are called, but few are chosen.”
That’s the ticket right there. It fires the old concept of being a leader out the window. The leader will be last, and the servant will be first. This verse has a lot to be said about it. However this is the motif for this material. If you feel called by God to be a leader in some type of embodiment, then listen. It’s not undoubtedly going to be prestigious, it will come at a cost, and you are to be held at a much higher level of accountability. MANY are called. FEW are chosen.
That’s not to scare you, that’s being real with you. I’ve only seen it on a rather small scale and let me tell you, it gets real serious, real fast, without regard to what kind of leadership.
Know Your Faults and Limits
I want to also talk on another matter though. A few weeks ago my pastor, Ronnie Floyd, was discussing generosity. He said that you shouldn’t buy something if you are willing to give it away. If you can’t let go of it, then don’t buy it. It was a word on stewardship and the fact nothing is truly ours. All belongs to God and is given by Him to use for Him.
I want to turn that to leadership. Do not take a position of leadership freely. Discern and work through what it means to have that position before you undertake it. Don’t take a position in leadership, if you can’t let it go. If you can’t step down, then you shouldn’t be up there in the first place. Unlike material goods though, a position in leadership can shift direction and purpose over time. Realize this, and act accordingly. If things change and you feel those feelings invade that are making it harder and harder to let go or making you more and more possessive, let it go. Give it up. That’s often a signal to move on or at least take a break. I can’t speak with certainty but I wonder if that’s a reason why John Piper is taking an eight month leave of absence. If so then, good for him!
You can write novels on leadership and I have volumes of other things that I’d love to say, but this was what was on my heart. I feel that these two points are greatly missed by the leaders of today and tomorrow. This is for those leaders looking to take up the reins in the workforce and in the community, and it’s especially for those looking to be leaders in the Church. Think hard before making your choices. I’m praying for all of us.
“If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth); if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” – Anonymous
“The real test of a saint is not one’s willingness to preach the gospel, but one’s willingness to do something like washing the disciples’ feet – that is, being willing to do those things that seem unimportant in human estimation but count as everything to God.” –Oswald Chambers
“If you serve others for the reward of gaining their admiration and gratitude, then your reward will be fleeting and ultimately dissatisfying. If you serve others for the reward of bringing pleasure to your Father God’s heart as you work side by side with him, then you will gain eternal rewards.” – Anonymous