In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century is a book that mines the work of Harvard's Business School's Leadership Initiative. This Initiative looks at 860 top executives and analyzes their lives in order to expose leadership qualities that are not easily measurable. In the book, the authors speak of three leadership archetypes: Mold-makers, Mold-breakers, Mold-Takers.
Leonard Sweet mentions this finding in his book, Nudge: Awaking Each Other to the God Who is Already There and he notes that the mold-makers are entrepreneurs, the mold-breakers are the charismatics, and the mold-takers are the managers. Of course as a Christian, when I see the number three I think first and foremost about the mystery of the Trinity. To build on this idea, might we suggest that God is the mold-maker, Jesus is the mold-breaker, and the Holy Spirit is the mold-taker.
And like God, so the Church needs all three expressions of "molding". We need those who will make, those who break, and those who take the mold. It is also somewhat a trend that the longer one is in church leadership the more inclined we are to move toward being a mold-taker (manager or one that takes care of the already made mold) and away from the mold-maker (entrepreneur). And regardless of ones tenure in leadership there is always a suspicion of the mold-breaker.
So to those in leadership and those in the pew, whatever your leadership style is, know that the Church needs you. We need the makers, the breakers and the takers.
Last week I shared this quote from St. Augustine to a friend:
"Let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten your labors. You should sing as wayfarers do—sing, but continue your journey. Do not be lazy, but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going."
My friend shared that after reading this he could only think about how singing today is more about entertainment and escape than it is about a discipline. He went on to say that singing has become something that we do in private or at best quietly in a group. We sing only the songs we like and we sing as a way to transport us to another place (usually a past experience). So if there is a song that we do not like or do not have a connection with then we resist singing it.
Singing to my friend is more of a discipline than entertainment. It is something that focuses the mind and Spirit so that we might be more intentional with the task at hand. Therefore it is important to sing even the songs we do not like because it forces us to face things we do not like and examine why we do not like them. Sure we can sing for entertainment, but if we are only singing to escape then we have missed the point of music - that is to connect us with one another, with God and with ourselves.
In light of the previous post of preserving the residues of tradition, I offer up this beautiful song of a Gregorian Chant mashed up with Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
Recently I was in a conversation with a mother of two teens and she shared that many people her age (including herself) suffer from "church trauma". She went on to say that she grew up in a church that she has since left because she has been deeply wounded by the church community's stance on particular issues and teachings. While she identifies as Christian she does not attend a place of worship consistently. Finally, when she shared that much of what she is looking for is a worship place that does not have any of the looks/sounds/feelings of the place that caused trauma in her young life. I can only imagine that must be very difficult to do.
I understand there is a desire in some to disassociate with any place of worship that looks like the place that abused them in the past. My heart and prayers go up to them and I am so very sorry that anyone has been abused at the hands of church leadership. I am sure that I too would hesitate to connect with a place that looked like a painful past. What I would like to offer up in this post is not at all speaking to this group of people. I would like to offer up something to the group of people who feel like there are traditions in the church that are passe and should be done away with.
Specifically, there are movements among churches to do away with things like passing the plate for an offering, eradicate silence, avoid talking about anything sad or depressing, eliminate theological language, avoid anything that is too "churchy", etc. The efforts come out of a desire to ensure than no one feels uncomfortable and that people leave feeling good so they will come back.
The eradication of tradition is something that has been going on since the dawn of time and perhaps today is no different than yesterdays. What I would like to submit though is the eradication of tradition is not very creative. It is easy to stop doing something or to do something completely different. What is much more difficult is finding ways to honor and evolve the tradition.
This is what I think Jesus was talking about when he said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. He was not one that wiped tradition away, but preserved the residues of tradition for future generations. It has been said that tradition is the voice of the dead and if/when we eradicate tradition those voices die a second time. Tradition is that way to respect the ones who came before us and who worked hard in hopes that this day would arrive.
Cleaning church of tradition might sound great these days in order to "streamline" and be "efficient" and frankly it is easy to do this. The call of the Christian is, in part, a call to honor the entire body of Christ and use the spark of divine creativity to evolve the tradition so that it is fresh and meaningful for today. Preserving the reside of tradition is difficult work, but most important work is difficult.