Okay – cheesy illustration time. This morning, I checked the forecast and saw that thunderstorms are predicted through next Monday (I’m writing this on Tuesday morning). We’ve been extremely busy the past week, I haven’t had a chance to mow our lawn, and the grass was starting to resemble the Amazon. To make matters worse, both of our neighbors just cut their grass with professional-grade mowers, giving them that super-clean, striped look like a Major League ballpark. To make matters even worse, my boss is coming to visit me this week, and I want to make a good impression, since he hasn’t seen our new house yet.
There wasn’t time to mow the whole yard, so I made an executive decision to mow just the front lawn. So there I am, mowing my front lawn at 8:15 in the morning, with storm clouds moving in, knowing full well that my back yard looks horrible, with no plans to even attempt to clean it up for at least a week.
So, here’s the cheesy illustration: what’s your front lawn? When the storms of life move in, what do you rush to make presentable (or presentable enough compared to everyone around you)? What’s your back yard? What do you ignore because, even though it’s just as important and looks even worse, only you and your family can see it?
Photo: Ben McLoed, via Flickr
In addition to Jayber Crow, our Faculty Ministry Leadership Team is also reading Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson. I’m pretty excited about both this book, which uses the story of Jonah as a framework and its central idea of vocational holiness. If I had space and time, I would quote the entire introduction. Instead, here’s just a snippet.
Peterson begins by describing a crisis he faced when he was 30 years old (a symbolic age, by the way – it was the age when Hebrew priests traditionally began their service, and the age when Ezekiel and Jesus began their public ministries) and just a young pastor. He felt a chasm open between his life as a Christian and his life as a pastor, and Peterson, after a page or two, concludes that this chasm was not unique to him. One reason is the uncapitalized vocations of the pastorate.
Spiritual leadership vocations [pastors, missionaries, teachers, deacons, etc.] in America are badly undercapitalized. Far more activity is generated by them than there are resources to support them. The volume of business in religion far outruns the spiritual capital of its leaders. The initial consequence is that leaders substitute image for substance, satisfying the customer temporarily but only temporarily, on good days denying that there is any problem (easy to do, since business is so very good), on bad days hoping that someone will show up with an infusion of capital. No one is going to show up. The final consequence is bankruptcy. The bankruptcies are dismayingly frequent.