Monday, December 17, 2018

Advent Thought 16

In one of his rarer moments of lucidity prompted by the Christian tradition, Bob Dylan once said that no-one does what is right; they just do what they want and then repent. If he was channelling his inner St Paul - all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - then the boy done well.

As an insight it has followed me around over the years. I have been fortunate enough to lead a number of Christian communities and I have seen at first hand the many occasions on which the whole community has spoken as one to agree on a course of action and then stepped back from the job of making that thing happen.

Which links nicely to another quote I rediscovered yesterday:

In other words, a real leader is somebody who can help us to overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.
(David Foster Wallace)

So the hurtful thing (which I have never allowed to hurt me because that is my choice) is when I see things that need to be done, and take people with me to a place where they agree they should be done, yet find it almost impossible to get people to join a team to do the thing, let alone lead it. It is potentially hurtful because, as the quote makes clear, it is always my fault. Vision casting needs to take people beyond nodding in agreement to rolled up sleeves.

There was an old story about a vicar who went to the railway track every Sunday morning and waited for the early train to pass under the bridge. At this point he gave a litle dance of joy and walked home. Questioned about it he acknowledged that since it was the only thing in the parish that moved without him pushing it he got pretty excited.

Don't worry. This is not a Christmas rebuke to my lovely church. It is an observation applicable as much to a country and Brexit as a church and its vision. It is one thing to agree on a vision. It is another to agree to contribute to the necessary work to make it happen.

20% of the people do 80% of the work. The somebody, anybody, nobody, everybody story also springs to mind which, if you know it, will not be as good as my version which contains mildly poor language.

A thought. A thought? Ah yes. If you think it is a good idea, get involved. If you don't think it is a good idea, say so.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Do you think that, perhaps, we have learned passivity as our part in a dance with dominant clerics? As a member of a congregation, I see the passivity all around me, "oh that would be a good idea,..." if only someone else would do it... We seem to live church life perpetually somewhere prior to Isaiah chapter 6...

and I, meanwhile, write a note to a friend so that I can avoid getting on with some writing that I need to do..