I struggled with how to write this post. Mainly because Sarah talks about vocation in this chapter, and I truly believe vocation is one of the two most important things for the Church in our time and place. I am currently developing a class on it no one has asked me to teach, when I should be writing a research paper.
Not only that, but Sarah’s stories touched a place deep in my heart having gone through many of the same things she has. (I love her stories and Allen and I connect with her so much. We should call her, record it, then put it on the blog….)
So I didn’t know where to begin. Do I share my story? Do I
How do I communicate all I want to in 1000 words, when I have already used 150?
So I decided talk about my doctoral research and pizza. I will write another post next week, and there is probably a whole series here, but for today: research and pizza.
So hang with me as I talk about some of my areas of interest. Be of great courage and without fear.
And indulge me a bit. Because I think it is helpful.
One of my main areas is leadership development. Currently there is an important distinction being made between leader development and leadership development.
Leader development is all about how we train leaders to be leaders. Most of the time when we talk about it, what we really mean is how to develop people who are able to get others to do what they want.
Which is how we often talk about leadership in church. How do we (the ministers, pastors, elders, or other formal people in charge) get people to do what we want them to do?
Leadership development, however, is about building certain capacities within a group. As an example, my work is on inclusive leadership development. Which asks: How do we get a group of people to make sure they are including people in their work, especially those who have tended to be marginalized?
The goal is to build all involved persons’ ability to be more inclusive. Leaders still play a part. But it is not all about the leader. It is about empowerment. It is about everyone.
Sit on that for a minute, we will come back. Next, pizza.
The other night my kids and I we were reading the Creation story and my four-year old was telling me all the things God made. She stopped mid-list and asked: Did God make pizza?
But God gave us all the stuff to make pizza: grains, dairy, animals, etc. and he gave us hands and minds and pallets so we could create pizza. We get to create stuff WITH God.
Within ten to fifteen seconds their eyes glazed over.
But I try to tell my kids this stuff all the time. Because it is so important.
Creation is not something that happened once, then God was done. Creation is ongoing. And we get to participate.
Sarah reminds us of this amazing Scripture in Colossians:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross
We get to participate with God in the ongoing creation of the world. And what this verse tells us is that everything in life is spiritual. There is not a separation of secular and sacred. It is all God’s and WORK is part of the ongoing creation.
Maybe you make pizza. Maybe you change diapers. Maybe you organize or design. Maybe you crunch numbers. Maybe you create art or write words.
It is all God’s. And it is all part of the ongoing creation of the world.
Yet we don’t often speak this way at church. We subtly build walls between the sacred and the secular. We have tacitly communicated that ministry and church-y things are where the important work is, but not at a 9-5 office job or running a household. Those are lesser.
I think part of the reason we have done this is because we have made church leader driven, rather than leadership driven.
Rather than trying to increase the collective capacity for people to witness to God in their work, right where they are, we have farmed out all of the “spiritual” stuff to church workers who do all of the real “God work,” and then just tell us what we need to think.
Sidenote: When I say our work should “witness to God” I do not mean we have to pass out tracts and convert people. Our work itself witnesses to God: the goodness of what we actually do, the way we do it, the morals and ethics we use to accomplish tasks, all of these things witness to God and are part of what it means to be co-creators.
We need to do better. And we need to talk about work more. We need to develop a leadership capacity where all people are ministers and priests and all work points to God.
This doesn’t mean we stop having church leaders. Church leadership is a worthy vocation. But it is not the only, nor the most important vocation. It is also a vocation which needs to take leadership development seriously. Church leaders need to create environments where people are empowered to witness to Jesus through their every day work and lives.
Next week, I will talk a little bit about finding your vocation, but for today I want us to just savor in the fact that work is good.
Your work has meaning and purpose. God has given you talents and gifts and passions. Why would we ignore those just because they don’t relate to church work? God made you the way you are for a reason. You interests and abilities are a gift from God. Follow them.
God has given you the ingredients. And you get to make pizza.