I've been a communicator for years…it has driven me crazy, given me joy, confounded me and challenged my life. I have "studied" communicators since I had the honor of being pals with some great speakers back in the late 70's and 80's. Even today, some of my best friends are great communicators (little do they know that one of the reasons they are admired by me has nothing to do with their magnetic personality but their ability to communicate). I'm facinated with the subject and have dedicated a good portion of my life (especially the last few years) studying good communication…effective, life-changing communication. I've shared about it on this blog before but from books like Made to Stick to Brain Rules to Slideology and Presentation Zen to many of the blogs I subscribe to, I am constantly challenged and given feedback on the effectiveness of my communication in the spheres of influence in which God has placed me.
Now, I want to say one thing clearly here – I do believe in the "spiritual gift" of communication…and sometimes a lack of technique and presentation ability has been trumped by the Spirit's influence…evenso, there are some things to be learned and applied to our passions and openness to the Spirit's work and power as we open our mouths to do what we communicators are called to do.
Most people wouldn't regard what I do weekly (that is, give "sermons" or messages in our faith community) as "presentation". Unfortunately, they would be misguided in their assessment. Just because I have a "Rev." in front of my name doesn't mean that I automatically have earned a "hearing". Times have changed…there is so much input (over 5000 marketing messages a day into our lives alone) coming into people's lives…what used to be a setting where someone who was deemed "important" or authoritative would get a free pass in terms of a hearing. Not so much today – communicators compete in the marketplace of ideas and communication. That's why I look for these types of encouragement (the short video from Nancy Duarte of Duarte Designs below). Good communicators have a "wonderment" with their subject matter…they are "real" and humanly connected to others through the passion they have for their story and how it plays out in their presentation…they don't approach presentation like some sort of research paper but as a way of making transformational human connection in community. If you are a communicator, ask yourself what is implied in Nancy's video – if people in your setting were "tweeting" during one of your "talks/presentations/studies/messages", what would they be saying? To use Nancy's own words, "they better be listening to people or they won't be given the stage". Something to think about…
Day one on the nurse-maid front…yep, that's not me in the picture. There were many, many pics I could have chosen from (on Google Image – you type in "nursemaid" and see what I mean…) but I chose one that is closest to the role I'm playing. Yep, bearing my "cross" and serving my wonderful wife, Vicky after her hand surgery today. She's been struggling with a very painful thumb joint for a few years…come to discover that not only is the joint being adversely affected by arthritis but also there have been bone spurs and fragments inflaming and restricting the movement of the joint. So, today was "spring cleaning", so to speak. Now Vicky is nursing a split and two incisions…as well as six weeks of upcoming casting and physical therapy NOT to mention the fact that she will not have use of her right hand for over a month. She's not supposed to lift more than a 2 lb. soda/pop can over the next six weeks…SO, today I'm caring for my lovely wife and blogging at 9pm. Yep! Truly, this isn't about me! Pray for her speedy recovery!
I don't know where this post is going to go. It is the day after Easter Sunday…my first Easter back in the "professional ministry" saddle after a few years living more in a movement than in an institutional setting. I had a great time yesterday…it was wonderful to don the "robe" and do the traditional worship setting…but then it was wonderful to pick up my guitar, have puppets on hand, drum tracks blazing in the background and sing "active" songs with wide-eyed children who delighted in worship as David did when he danced before the ark with abandon (1 Chronicles 15 if you want to read the story). Interesting, David's dancing embarrassed his wife at the time as much as our more "lively" worship experience did some (though, I must add, very few) of the more "staid" and static in our faith community. That's OK though because I don't expect or anticipate anything but that reaction. Many people who find the flow of their lives as participants in faith communities struggle with personal preferences and prejudices. Add that to the prevailing winds of culture not only influenced but steeped in consumerism and you have almost the perfect "storm" for dissatisfaction. Those of us who love the Body of Christ (commonly known as the Church) are constantly challenged more by the meaning of the word, "unity" than by diversity. Conceptually, diversity has a good "ring" to it. We would all love to see a wide variety of people involved in a rich tapestry of the community's make up. We like the idea of diversity…living with it though is a different story. We all love the diversity of the Body as long as that diversity doesn't impinge itself on "my" preferences. For some, they equate unity with uniformity…thus the problem. Sometimes the story of the community's past impinges itself on what the definition of that community's present and future is or can be. One of the issues of faith and the Christian story is that each generation has to own the story in their way and according to the specific lens of their experience. For some the precious glue of tradition that held together communities in the past is no longer that which coaleses people or that which brings the practice of faith into a vibrant reality in their lives.
Even so, the "journey" through these issues is worth it…it is an energetic, exciting and important journey. It is a disciple-making journey in that evey disciple needs to learn to give preference to their "brother and sister" in the Lord. The discipline of submission is still one to embrace within our lives. Helping people understand that the Kingdom is too big and the need to incarnate it (as well as look forward to more and more of it) too important to be wasting our time on preserving personal preferences. While we battle over what "I like or don't like", we are missing the point. In many respects, that which consumes so much of our faith community's time and energy is only doing what serves the agenda of the Enemy more than that of God – keeping us focused on ourselves and our pettiness instead of training, equipping and releasing each of us to be engaged in living the Kingdom in all of our relationships. There have been many times in my "professional ministry" life where I wish I could have every minute spent back that I've spent discussing donuts, the color of carpeting, who/who can't use the kitchen facilities, what style of music is faithful to our tradition, whether we have pews or chairs or a host of other subjects that appear NOW to be inconsquential. I'm excited about the fact that I'm in a place these days where at least the people in our faith community are discussing and debating the real issues of faith – how to grow as disciples and what that looks like within the flow of our story but MOST IMPORTANTLY our place within God's story. We're talking how to track God's Spirit in our time, place and relationships…yes, that's risky but it is a risk that is worthy and fun to take!
Ok – I'm done rambling…I don't even know what I "said"…maybe it will make sense when I read it…maybe it won't. Who knows…
Thank you Walt for pointing this song out to me! Just a delight!
"for he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed." Isaiah 53
I always love this time of the year…I have so many memories of people, friends and fellow Christ followers who have made this pilgrimage with me over the years. We have sung, read, meditated, conversed and humbled ourselves together in community as we have beheld the magnificence of our God and the mysteries of the incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection that have transformed our lives.
Another year has come and the journey remains the same…these regular rhythms are here for a reason…they give us an opportunity to rehease the mysteries of God and His transforming love and power…you see, we simply don't "remember" as if this whole Jesus following thing was simply an exercise in cognitive recall…but we walk it again…we put ourselves around that table of the last supper…we take our place at the foot of the cross…we stand under the sacrifice of Jesus and wait patiently and prayerfully at the "soon to be" empty tomb. It's too important to pass up…in whatever way you watch and pray, whether in your heart alone or in community, I pray that is week will be another way that the Spirit brings you life and meaning and purpose in life. The Kingdom is revealed this week in a powerful way…see it and embrace it and share in in relationship with others as was the Lord's intent when He breathed you into existence.