The madness of relying on donkeys.
Systems that have yet to overtly fail may already be broken. (Donkeys and faith, part two.)
My sister and I were huddled in the gooseneck of her horse trailer, sleep coming slowly because I couldn’t stop thinking about how we should have been more careful to not park at a slope.
Everyone else at the Pat Parelli weekend training had stayed in hotels or more comfortable campers instead of hot slanted goosenecks and raised-bag showers where you stood in the manure of the trailer and hoped to God no one would walk by and look in.
As blood rushed to my head and I huddled into my sleeping bag, I drifted off to sleep wondering about brain damage.
We woke up to the horrible racket of a donkey, just a stone’s throw from the trailer. I already had a headache and that’s when I realized that a donkey is a really, really noisy thing.
Gets a lot of attention, it does. Makes a poor alarm clock, but if that’s all you have, it’ll get the job done. The fact that God can use an donkey to accomplish his will says more about his ability to accomplish his will than it does any validation of the donkey.
It’s easy to mistake the final result as directly the effect of the tools.
Paintings are beautiful because of the skill of the artist, not the brushes used. Poems are lovely because of the skill of the writer, not the kind of computer they were written on.
Unfortunately, we tend to fixate on the methods someone has used to achieve success instead of going deeper. They’re obvious, easy to quantify and systematize, easier to understand and replicate.
“I lost weight doing this, this, and this. So can you!”
“I achieved financial freedom by using plan X. So can you!”
“I achieved confidence and victory in my life by doing A, B, and C. So can you!”
We see this so much that we don’t really question it as anything but true.
We should question it.
Was it correlation or causation? the scientist asks.
More importantly, I would ask whether the success came because of what we did, or because of what God did? Was it for only that moment because of the grace of God, or is this the method we should repeat for the rest of our lives? Did success come to someone in a specific area of need because God worked in a way that was uniquely fit for them, or is success a one-size-fits-all uniform?
When we think that success is the most important part of our personal story, the thing that encourages others the most, we miss the picture. What encourages me more is the fact that God can use donkeys.
There are a lot of donkeys out there, roaming about in our lives.
A thirty-year path to success seems like a failure in this age of instant everything. You can’t spend thirty years on Facebook promoting your incremental success because you can’t sell anything off of that.
Todays success is data-driven, something we can quantify. If you can’t measure it, you can’t be sure it’s success. It needs to happen on a fast enough timeline—visible from start to finish in our limited viewpoint—so we can package it up and sell it as a methodology.
Here is the thesis statement, buried this far down: the modern way of doing church is in fail mode because the culture and times we live in are so extreme that to try to stay alive and relevant by adapting our methodologies to what seems to be working successfully around us is to move away from the heart of the Christian faith.
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