July 2014 Director’s Desk

Few in the ministry would question the necessity of teaching about and exercising spiritual gifts.  The topic seems to cycle around in terms of emphasis.

There are difficulties in having conversation around this topic, to be sure.  How do various denominations define a spiritual gift?  Are we speaking about the miraculous work of God alone or are there gifts that are not overt manifestations?  There are some believers who hold to the view that spiritual gifts are no longer necessary and were discontinued as a way God worked once the canon was completed.

We, The Salvation Army, affirm that God gives spiritual gifts to His people.  The gift, itself, is not the center of attention.  Gifts are used by God’s people to edify His body—to build up, to aid in healing, reconciliation and restoration in areas where sin and human-ness have created limitations or have taken their toll.

It is not our work to judge which gifts are more important or more noteworthy.  God has an economy that is often distinctly different than the way we measure or judge.  Our work is to affirm, teach, train and release people to work out of their giftedness and under God’s authority.

Open and unpack your gift!  Dust it off!  Let the oil of the Holy Spirit revitalize your gift or gifts.  Then employ them for the work of His Kingdom.

You will find a power point based on the chapter on spiritual gifts from Ken Boa’s book Conformed to His Image.  I trust it will whet your appetite to get a copy of this book for yourself and delve into what it means to be conformed to the image of Jesus.

Please take advantage of the other resources we have on the subject of spiritual gifts and, remember, all of our articles, resources and lessons are archived for your use.

Blessings as you give and receive gifts intentionally this summer!

Boa, Kenneth, Conformed to His Image, pgs 301-315, Zondervan, 2001.

PerfExcellence

image-for-articleIt could be said that perfectionism is the shadow side of excellence.  On the surface it would be difficult to distinguish between the two.  Tasks are getting done and done well.  People are served and served well.  At some point, however, the inner motivation and posture of the person serving begins to emerge.

Harriet Braiker is quoted as stating, “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.”[1]

Often perfectionism feeds on the need to be right or to be superior.  At times it feeds on the need to please others.   Somehow, in the thinking of a perfectionist, not to be perfect tears at the fabric of who you are, rather than assessing the errant thinking or approach to a task.

This is an interesting paradox because perfectionists focus on what they do.   The result is that perfectionism cuts at identity even while the focus of the perfectionist is on getting things done right.  Excellence focuses on working out of who I am with the result of moving toward getting things done the right way for the right reasons and in the right manner.

“Perfectionism is focused on ‘doing the thing ‘right,’ how things APPEAR, and if OTHERS think it’s done right. Excellence is about ‘doing the right thing.’ It is focused on the REASON for a task, and the RESULTS for it to be a success.”[2]

Unhealthy perfectionism entails the all or nothing, obsessive mindset of striving for flawlessness that messes in a negative way with the psyche.  This can lead to dissatisfaction and depression when flawlessness cannot be obtained.[3]

Christian leaders must continually reorient their interior world around listening to, obeying and pleasing Jesus.  He is the reason and resource as we lead.  The counterfeit of working (leading) as unto the Lord is the self-reliant and self-sufficient effort that is ultimately not sustainable.

Ministry leadership takes its toll when, ever so slowly, we find ourselves counting on our own moxy and resources.  The sheer volume of work in ministry, much less the understanding necessary, is overwhelming.  Many find themselves caught up in perfectionistic performance rather than endeavoring excellence.

Wil Hernandez, author of Henri Nouwen:  A Spirituality of Imperfection, writes:

Many believers who embark on ministry sooner or later discover that the demands of the task can prove very overwhelming.  The question is this:  Why is it that not too many people make it over the long haul?  One chief condition among many others that perennially afflicts most ministries as well as ministers is what well-known author Eugene Peterson labels as the crisis of “under-capitalized vocation.”  Many simply do not have what it takes to spiritually fund their ministry undertakings in such a way that they are endowed with staying power.[4]

Choosing excellence in leadership requires our consistent attention to our relationship with Jesus.  There is no manual that outlines a plan of action for every eventuality in ministry leadership.  We lead as followers of Jesus.  We trust a “just in time” plan that is available when we walk closely with Him.  His excellence becomes the springboard for excellence in our own lives—in what we do, in what we think, in what we say, in what we choose.

Moving towards doing something perfectly is much different than a perfectionistic spirit.  Excellence is a befitting offering for our King.  Perfectionism denies Him access and influence in our decisions and out-workings.

Is perfectionism draining you of vitality and fulfillment?  Of creativity and healthy risk-taking?   Are you weary of obsessing over getting it all right all of the time?

Pursue excellence and let His influence and commands be your perfect choice!

[1] http://theviewinside.me/perfectionism-vs-excellence

[2] Ibid.

[3] www.diseaseproof.com/archives/2013/10/

[4] Hernandez, Wil.  Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection. Paulist Press.  New York/Mahway, NJ. 27.

Book Review – Going for the Max

“What is it we do after we recover from whatever it is that has set us back? I think we sink our roots deeper into our own soul and find out more of who we are and what God wants us to be.” –Max Cleland

The key to reaching any goal is the ability to overcome the obstacles that challenge us along the way. Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland is the literal embodiment of what it means to move beyond our limitation to reach our goals.

In his book, “Going for the Max,” Cleland discusses the fundamental lessons that enabled him to live life to the fullest after he suffered the loss of both legs and one arm during the Vietnam War.  His book is a well-articulated and succinct list of lessons supported by quotes and stories from the lives of a myriad of authors and public figures. Cleland says those stories and quotes have had a lasting impact on his life and his is hope that others would find them as inspirational as he has.

His influences vary drastically. For example, Cleland says he was inspired by Helen Keller’s assertion to “never lose your vision,” even though she had lost her sight. He was also encouraged by Kevin Costner’s character in the movie, Tin Cup, to never be so defined by the desperation of the situation that you resolve to fail.  Cleland wrote, “I have to challenge myself constantly not to lose my vision about what I can become.”

The book goes on to list a total of 12 different principles that enable the reader to search their souls and seek God in an effort to reach their full potential.  The principles are not unique. From thinking positively to persevering, the uniqueness of the book is not in the actual principles but in his colorful illustrations and memorable anecdotes.