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FULFILLING OUR CALLING


Recently I was asked to speak at the African American Leadership, Development, and Recruitment weekend. This conference was held at South City Church (PCA) and Covenant Theological Seminary. This was the third annual AALDR weekend, held on Labor Day. The first was at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, the second at Reformed Theological Seminary, and the third one was at CTS.

I have included my outline here and I believe you can go online and hear the plenary sessions and workshops at the Covenant Seminary website. I will add some notes here to give you some idea of what I tried to speak about.

ISSUES THAT INHIBIT OUR FREEDOM TO FULFILL OUR CALLING.

We need the kind of freedom that the Apostle Paul speaks about in I Corinthians 9, where he says “though I am free and a slave to no man, I make myself a slave…” Without that freedom our ministries are held back or inhibited, but when we are really free in ourselves, spiritually, in our personalities, we can finally really serve people (as we serve Christ).

I spoke of four cultural issues, or one might describe them as phases, that people in cross cultural situations might experience. I discussed this primarily from the point of view of the those in the “sub-dominant” or minority culture. These phases are similar to what missionaries tend to go through, except that Western missionaries don’t usually have the same threat to their core understanding of themselves as those whose ethnic or cultural group has been oppressed, or who live with a constant challenge to an attack on their cultural selves.

I. FOUR CULTURAL ISSUES THAT INHIBIT OUR FREEDOM

A. Culture Shock

B. Cultural Fatigue

C. Cultural Alienation

D. Cultural Confusion

This dynamic can come from individuals who are in a time of ethnic or group shame or loathing, rejection of their own ethnic culture, a desperate desire to be accepted and assimilated into the majority culture, possibly living in denial about the reality of racism, and a disassociation from other individuals if there is any suggestion of racial or ethnic solidarity.

A combination of these issues can cause a kind of Cultural Trauma,

Leading to a reflection of PTSD (Anxiety, Fear, Sudden Anger, Transference, Social Inhibition.)

Spiritual Identity can liberate our cultural identity.

This is our great hope, that we who are in Jesus Christ are loved by God in our full selves; our souls, our bodies, our heritage. That we are sons of God, cannot be separated from his love, that we are righteous in his sight and forgiven. The confidence we have in his love means that we can repent in regard to our own sins, and see the sins in our own culture(s), and still realize the love of God for ourselves and our people group.

We need a healthy CQ (Cultural Intelligence) to recognize how we are interacting with our cultural environment.

II. FOUR PERSONALITY ISSUES THAT INHIBIT OUR FREEDOM

A. Narcissism*

*Every person struggles with the innate human sin of pride. It is a constant battle for every self aware person. Narcissism is way beyond the regular temptation to feel superior to others, or feel slighted when we don’t get recognition. Narcissism is when there is never enough of you, never enough notice of you, the constant dynamic of having to speak or write about yourself. It is insatiable, and makes people really want to avoid such individuals. The more they trumpet themselves the lonelier they become. We will speak about the danger of hubris when we come to sin issues.

B. Man Pleasing

This is a constant struggle for pastors and it carries with it the seeds of compromise and a loss of integrity.

C. Competitive Insecurity

Many pastors suffer from this, and it is a life of constant comparison and a feeling that we are never good enough unless we can outdo others.

D. Manipulative Control

This is where pastors start using guilt to intimidate people, leverage them to obedience (not to God but to their opinion) and spiritually abuse people. It is a desire for control.

We need a healthy EQ (Emotional Intelligence) to recognize ourselves. Character can trump personality issues.

One great hope for those of us with personality disorders is that we can still walk with God, and that though we are plagued by our fallen personality and tendencies we can still have some measure of victory over ourselves and the Lord can still use us, and many with these tendencies have been powerfully used of God.

III. FOUR SIN ISSUES THAT INHIBIT OUR FREEDOM

I think I will let these words preach for themselves.

A. Dishonesty

B. Fear

C. Bitterness

D. Self-Indulgence (LUST!)

Sometimes when pastors become “full of themselves” i.e., filled with hubris, they set themselves up for sexual sin. It is at this place that our success becomes our enemy, we begin to act as if we are not held to the same rules as others, that we have license to indulge ourselves because we are so special, helping so many people, etc. Hubris is a swelling up of ourselves and it usually leads to a great fall.

Grace from the Holy Spirit is the engine of godliness in us.

IV. FOUR BAD IDEAS THAT INHIBIT THE FULFILLMENT OF OUR CALLING

A. Correcting Bad Theology Is More Important Than Winning Souls.

B. That Protecting Yourself Is Necessary or Possible.

C. That The Authentication Of Our Ministry Has Something To Do With The Way We Compare With Our Peers

D. That The Things We Do Are As Important As the Goal

(Studying/learning, Pastoring, Defending Theology, Serving, Polemics, Participating In and Perfecting Church Polity & Discipline, Writing, Preaching, Innovating Liturgy, Innovating Discipleship Techniques or Small Group and Body Life Strategies, Perfecting Evangelistic Techniques, Family & Children Ministry, Counseling, Justice, Mercy & Development Ministry – and all the other things we can find ourselves busy in)

We must not fail to keep the end in view:

1. The Personal – to know Christ

2. The Product – to win as many as possible.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus enables us to finish the race by helping us reorient ourselves to what is important to Him.

Well, that about sums it up. May the Lord help us to take heed to the ministry that we have received, that we fulfill it; as the Apostle Paul challenged Timothy.

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