The Fourfold Leadership of Jesus: Come, Follow, Wait, GoI have just finished reading another book for my Sabbatical: The Fourfold Leadership of Jesus by Andrew Watson. The book has a chequered history. Not the publication, the actual copy.

It was a gift to me from a group of people I served while working for the Baptist Union of Great Britain, over four years ago. One of the group was tasked with providing it for me and only finally got around to it this year. It has then sat on a bookshelf waiting for my sabbatical leave in order for me to read it.

I am glad I have. It has been helpful in confirming some of my leadership styles, challenging others and inspiring me to think of new ways of doing things. One of the suggestions is that as well as pithy mission statements we should also consider some ‘unmission statements’. These are statements articulating what we are not called to do. The idea is that if we articulate these things we can stop doing them, or can stop ourselves from starting to do them.

I am starting to work on my ‘unmission statement’, and I suspect that it will grow and develop over the rest of my sabbatical leave. For that reason I am not going to reveal any items from it just yet, but here are some generic categories.

Some of the things on the list are obvious because I am not gifted in those areas, have no interest or need to be involved in them and there are gifted and brilliant people who are doing those things already. Some of the things on this part of list are things I think I am good at but other people can do them better. These are the Bezalel items. (Bezalel was delegated to design and create the fancy bits for the Tabernacle, not something Moses needed to do or would have been any good at).

Some of the things on the list are things that I do because they are urgent but not because they are important. These are my Jethro items. (He was Moses’ Father-in-law and advised Moses to delegate some tasks to others).

Some of the things on the list are things that I could do easily, but by me doing them I am preventing other people from using their gifts and talents in those areas. These are my Elisha items. (Elisha was called to take over from Elijah but had a period of apprenticeship).

Some of the things on the list (the most difficult group) are things I enjoy doing but are not a good use of my time and can distract me from the things that are on God’s ‘To Do’ list for me. These are my Galilee items. (Peter and the disciples went fishing in Galilee after Jesus’ death and resurrection).

I need to be careful not to put things on the list that I don’t like doing but which God is asking me to do. I am calling these items my ‘burning bush’ items. (Moses at the burning bush had a whole lot of excuses about why he should not do what God wanted him to, including the brutally honest, “Please send someone else!”).

So what should be on your ‘unmission statement’?

Be blessed, be a blessing.


Some infernal beatitudes:

Blessed are those who are too tired, too busy, too distracted to spend an hour once a week with their fellow Christians in Church.

Blessed are those who wait to be asked and expect to be thanked.

Blessed are those who are touchy. Soon they will stop going to church.

Blessed are those who always want to get their own way.

Blessed are those who have no time to pray.

Blessed are those who gossip.

Blessed are you when you read this and think it has everything to do with other people, and nothing to do with you.


and the winner is…

This morning on the radio they were talking about the Ig Nobel Prizes which are awarded for achievements that first of all make people laugh and then make them think. The awardssuccess way ceremony is tonight. Previous winners include a lady who invented a brassiere that quickly converts to face masks (for use in the event of an epidemic); a team that has perfected a method for collecting whale snot using a remote controlled helicopter; a team that discovered that symptoms of asthma can be helped by rollercoaster rides; Ireland’s police service, for writing and presenting more than fifty traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country — Prawdo Jazny – whose name in Polish means “Driving Licence. He has never been caught because it was a misreading of Polish Driving Licences; and a team that demonstrated that in icy weather people slip less if they wear socks outside their shoes.

I have to say that the premise of the Prizes – making people laugh and then making them think – is something that I applaud most heartily, and I would love it if people would say the same about this blog. I think too it is a great dictum for the way that we communicate our faith. Laughter and learning can be great companions in life and faith.

It got me thinking about whether we ought to award similar prizes in Baptist churches for daft things we have done that also make us think… perhaps called the ‘RAFTAs’ – Ridiculous Actions and Foolish Teaching Awards. All of these have happened in Baptist churches or to Baptist preachers:

The RAFTA for Best Sermon Gaffe might go to the visiting preacher who nervously twiddled a wing nut on the back of the pulpit during his sermon, only to find afterwards that it was attached to the cross on the front… and it was rotating while he twiddled. (Lesson – don’t twiddle while you talk)

The RAFTA for Best Missionary Presentation must go to the Missionary who was working with unreached people in Indonesia who wore very little and felt embarrassed showing slides (proper slides in a slide projector, not PowerPoint) of these people to polite British churches upon his return. Having put small squares of paper on the naughty bits he then found that during the slide presentation the fan on the projector blew the squares off, just after the image appeared on the screen. (Lesson – don’t draw attention to what you don’t want people to notice)

The RAFTA for Worst Children’s talk might be the Minister who chained two children together with a bicycle chain as an illustration of the way that sin binds us and how Jesus frees us (the key). He then discovered he had the wrong key and had to send his wife home to get the key… in the meantime the children escaped on their own. (Lesson – check everything before you use it)

The RAFTA for Most Inappropriate Voluntary could be the organist who played the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony* as the bread was served at communion. Cue many pews shaking and much giggling suppressed. (*It’s the theme for Hovis!) (Lesson – music can evoke the wrong mood)

The RAFTA for Worst Moment at a Wedding may be the Minister who misheard the groom ask, “Can I kiss the bride?” at the end of the ceremony. The Minister took it as permission, leaned forwards, lifted the veil and kissed the bride himself. (Lesson – clean your ears out)

The RAFTA for Least Successful Cross-Cultural Communication probably goes to the British preacher in Africa who had asked his interpreter how to say ‘Good morning’ in the local dialect at the start of his sermon and had added the two words from the front of the toilets that he noticed on his way into church so he could say ‘Good morning ladies and gentlemen.’ After a stunned silence that descended into uproarious laughter he discovered he had actually said, ‘Good morning water closets and urinals’. (Lesson – don’t try to be too clever)

Any more nominations or alternative awards? There’s nothing like raising the RAFTAs!

(Don’t confuse these awards with the Royal Air Force Theatrical Association)

STOP PRESS – just thought that there’s a far better name for the awards. The Ludicrous Actions and Foolish Teaching Awards. After all everyone enjoys LAFTA!

My life as a ninja parachutist

Recently the blog posts have been almost daily. That is due in the main to me having too much time on my hands and the opportunity to do lots of thinking. This MAY change over the next week or so, as I start to ease myself back into work following my operation.

I am trying to do things that I have not done for a while in order to try to resume a normal life. Things such as preaching on Sunday morning, driving my car and falling down steps. It remains to be seen how I will do on Sunday. The driving my car experiment went okay (just around the quiet roads near our house) but I also discovered I am not quite ready yet. 

modern stairsThe falling down steps happened involuntarily yesterday (not quite as many steps as in the picture!). I slipped going into our back garden and fortunately rolled on landing rather than going ‘splat’. A face-plant into the lawn is never a good idea. I thought I had landed okay (parachutist-style (or even ninja-style as one friend suggests)) but today I have discovered that muscles I have not used for a while because of convalescing are protesting at suddenly being called into action. At least the brain-buzzing is still working.
So what’s the point I am making of this?

Hmm. Not sure. 

I think it is something to do with being aware of our limitations but not being restricted by them. With God’s help we can do more than we could imagine we could do on our own. But my experience tells me that this happens best when I am doing the sorts of things he wants me to do, using the gifts and talents he has given me and am relying on him first rather than as a fall-back position (did you see what I did there?!).

What are a stuntman’s last words?
“Hey, watch this!”

[Severe groan warning for following joke]
A Hollywood stuntman who could perform any deed was hired to perform in a thrilling Western movie. The script called on the stuntman to become a kind of springboard. To help the white settlers escape the pursuing native Americans, the script called for the daredevil to lie on a cliff’s edge and push out as far as he could, holding his body stiff so that the settlers could use the extra six feet provided to jump safely to the other side.

The stuntman thought that this particular deed was so hazardous that he should be paid double time for his efforts. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t convince the producer that the stunt was worthy of extra pay. He would only get the same amount he got for stunts with daggers

Morosely, as he went through with it and jutted from the cliff, he murmured to himself mournfully, “Here I am, a ledge end on my own knife-time.”