Monday, January 29, 2007

Time of Talents, Treasures and Time

Our stewardship focuses on three things: Talents, Treasures and Time.
For me personally, of those three, I lose focus on my time the easiest.
I let my time get away by reading too much stuff on the internet. Political magazines also help get in my way with my time management. I confess: I am a political junkie.
But besides being a political reading junkie, I also have this enormous problem with the word no: I don't like to say it. Pastors aren't supposed to ever utter no, no?
The reality is that I need to learn how to say it a lot more frequently.
Look at where I am now: two days away from needing a sermon and the day of a long scheduled class, and nothing on the printed page for either. Why? A near total inability to say no.
The issue is of course about knowing how to erect appropriate boundaries. We don't want inappropriate boundaries which cause people to see you as unapproachable. On the other hand, we don't want inappropriate -- and here is the real rub -- ineffective -- boundaries that simply don't work.
I do respect others who seem capable of setting boundaries and keeping them up when needed and allowing them down when that is needed as well.
My guess is a goal for life.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Today's piece in the NY Times by Thomas Friedman struck a chord with me (Today is January 3, 2007).

He contrasted the Saddam execution with it's near total lack of civility with the funeral offered to Gerald Ford.

One seemed like a blood feud revisited. The other seemed to be an opportunity for people to celebrate a life well lived. Friedman writes:

“Because of our basic unity, we can afford to be divided on specific issues,” said Michael Mandelbaum, author of “The Case for Goliath.” “Democracy is about differences and contesting them in the public sphere, and it only works when there is basic agreement about the fundamentals. We should feel fortunate that we have a democratic history and set of beliefs. Those beliefs can be imported by those who want them and don’t have them, but they can’t be exported. We can only create a context where others would want to import them.”
Basic agreement on the fundamentals.

What a phrase. It does seem to provide the essence of what it is that goes on here. We seem to have reached a basic agreement on what is truly important. George Will wrote once on the positive aspects of how we bring people into citizenship in this country and all we ask them to do is assent. Assent to what? The Fundamentals.

Lyle Schaller in a book on large churches actually provides us insight into all churches -- he notes that churches that grow are quite clear in what they believe. To borrow from the Will and Friedman pieces, growing churches have reached -- basic agreement on the fundamentals, they have assented as to what is critical to them.

Mendelbaum goes further to say that this is an import product, but not an export.

Food for thought on two events that are in stark contrast to their solemnity and manner of administration.

Peace be with you ....