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Kurt Willems' Blog at Patheos
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I find this is true in all of life whether you’re a pastor or not. Don’t live for the outcomes or even for other people’s validation. Just like he thought his preaching was okay until he realized people were just giving him standard responses. We can think we’re okay when we’re not and think we’re horrible when we’re not if we rely on what other people say to us. We have to know how to take feedback and run through a filter rather than letting the sun rise and fall on every comment someone makes to us. Otherwise, we just become a puppet on a string.
Also, when it comes to divestment, you are not carrying some burden that people change, do things your way, etc. If they choose to change and grow, great. If not, you move on with your life without carrying the responsibility of making them change and pouring time and energy into an effort in which you want more than the other person does. To some degree, there’s something very dysfunctional about that. It’s as though we’re working out our insecure needs on other people.
I think “divesting of outcomes” is absolutely essential. People sense when your reputation is staked on how they respond; ministries built without this divesting process effectively rob church of its beauty. I think many people pick up more on the strings behind what you say from the pulpit than what you’re actually saying.
Puts me in mind of something from the collective wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous: “Do the next right thing and don’t be invested in the outcome.”
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First of all, I hate to begin my first comment to you on a negative note, but anytime I hear a pastor use the word leadership or leader, I am forced to wonder if they are reading the same gospel as I am. I think pastors are a little confused when they think of sermons or homilies as a learning experience; true, they could be if there were room for discussion and comments either after or at a set time during the week. Few of us take notes of the preaching. Also, you made a comment that you were not invested and therefore did not care if the congregation “did what I told them or not…” Preaching, or sharing the gospel is about Grace, not law. We need to change our vocabulary within the Christian community and rid ourselves of the words and terms that should have no place in our lives – like leadership and success, to name just a few. I sincerely apologize for being negative, but these words set off an automatic response…. Charis
You’re right, Shane, that does seem very counterintuitive. My initial gut reaction is that this is devoid of compassion. I can’t see how I can do what you say while maintaining and deep care for people which, to me, includes a desire to see them be healed or change. Please don’t read this as bashing your position, mostly I’d just like to know how you maintain that care and desire while essentially ridding yourself of it.
Also, how exactly does one go about divesting themselves like you say? Is there some process or mantra that you repeat to yourself that is supposed to alter your thought patterns? Is it just prayer? What?
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