Less is Really More: Pastor Dave’s E-note
Categories: Pastor Dave's eNote
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
It has been a busy summer for me. Right now I am in glorious Buffalo, NY catching up on some family matters. This summer I completed course work at Emory University for a Fundraising Certificate. I am currently waiting for the results on the project that I submitted. I know that does not sound like fun, but it actually was. I love giving, and I love learning about giving. I learned some new things that will help our church move into the future, and help us better communicate the vision God has placed upon our hearts.
I am also enrolled in the High Performing Diverse Leaders (HPDL) program at the Georgia Center for Non Profits. We’re reading John Maxwell’s “Five Levels of Leadership” as a group. The HPDL program is a year-long program designed to help leaders lead, envision and create a context for organizational productivity. Both of these programs share something in common; they are not classes or events designed for ministers. In fact, in both programs I am the only participant that works at a church.
I have a few observations. One, sometimes ministers get so immersed in a Christian
subculture they forget what it’s like to be out in the world. Most of the people I work with are Christians. Virtually all of the people I interact with at the church are Christians too. The positive side of that is that we understand each other. We’re united by a common spirit. We share a familiar vocabulary, and we see the world in similar ways. We can share with one another how we are “led,” “blessed” or “convicted,” and we know what that means. The not so positive side of that is that we forget that there is a world outside the world of the church that God really cares about. It is easy to be “salt” that stays in the saltshaker. Being out in the world interacting with people of different backgrounds makes me more conscious of my actions and attitudes, and how those actions and attitudes are essential to God’s unfolding mission in the world.
My second observation is that the impression that the world has of ministers, and the Christian church, is not all positive. It is not like it used to be when I started in full time ordained ministry in 1987. As I talked with people, listened to them and probed their reaction to my presence, I discovered the impression some people in the non profit world have of people in the church is that we’re prideful, judgmental, materialistic and hypocritical. While I think that those impressions are not always well founded, and sometimes built on unfair expectations and unexamined assumptions, it was tough to hear.
Christians are human beings. This is always a surprise to those outside the church. Our values are built on a book that is thousands of years old. This is another gulf the world doesn’t quite understand. That being said, the experience of being “out in the world” made me take stock of my life and examine where I am headed. This is why I sold my motorcycle. If you have one, please don’t feel that this is any kind of indictment. It’s not. In fact, I might want to borrow yours if you’re not using it some Friday afternoon. I looked at my life, and I decided that there was too much debt and too many things. So, I got rid of the motorcycle, my Honda Accord and the credit card. I took the proceeds and bought a 10 year old Volvo that a family in the church sold me for a price way below market value. And I am not sure I am finished yet. I am seeking a witness that is lighter, simpler and more in tune with God and helping hurting people God cares about. I simply do not believe we can change the world we live in unless we begin living in ways that are distinct from it. For me, that means more praying, more growing, more giving and more serving. It also means spending less, borrowing less, and having less.
So far on this journey what I have discovered is that less is more. I am learning to live with less, and want less so that God can accomplish more through me. Perhaps King David came to such a moment in His life. I suspect that it was a moment when he understood that he could not lead, unless he himself was being led. He looked into his heart and understood that sometimes you have to let go of the things in this world in order to reach this world.
David Lee Davis