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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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Friday, February 23, 2007
Ministerial Vision:
Rose Coloured Glasses
In the first year of our new church the leaders determined that it would be a good idea to put together a Christian Education Ministry Committee. The function of this committee was to oversee and organize both people and materials for the various Bible Studies and for our Sunday School program.

At the time I was becoming convinced that the reason I had such a burning passion for my fellow believers to understand "how to be a Christian" - the reason I started and taught bible studies out of my home for years - was that I was in fact gifted by God in this direction.

When I first became a Christian, I read about all the miracles in the new testament, and wondered why I couldn't do that stuff. My presumption was, of course, that perhaps I had in some way messed up my salvation - perhaps I wasn't sincere enough? For years my secret conviction was that I was not really genuine "enough" - I mean I was genuine, but not enough to raise the dead or even heal the sick.

My casual knowledge of scripture allowed me to overlook the fact that not every Christian in the New Testament could do miracles, and that even amongst those who could, it didn't happen all the time. I recall the relief I felt when I began to see in scripture how Christ gave authority to do the miraculous to the seventy, and even more authority to the 12. I recall Simon the magician (c.f. Acts 8) seeing great things being done, not by converts, but by the apostles, from whom he tried to purchase this power. That helped a lot. I believed that God could do miracles, and that perhaps some are given such gifts, but even in the NT times they seemed to be temporal and with a purpose that was far more profound than simple mercy - they gave validated the claims that the church was making, first to the Jew, then to the Samaritans, then to the Gentiles. Jesus really was the Christ, and the gospel that was being preached really was the only way for sinners to be reconciled to God.

Yet there were other gifts listed in scripture, gifts that were just as miraculous with regards to their origin and function, but that were "character" gifts. Generosity, leadership, mercy, etc. These gifts had a divine origin, but worked themselves out in the character of the individual.

I have discussed my understanding of gifts elsewhere, but I will briefly review them here because such an understanding is pertinent to the point I hope to make. I believe that when God's Spirit begins to indwell a believer, He imparts to that believer (in accordance with His own counsel) some of His own character. God is merciful - and some Christians when they receive God's Spirit receive into themselves something of God's mercy for others. This mercy is expressed through their own personality - however it happens, and soon they find that being merciful is not only natural - it is the defining character of their faith. Likewise with the generous one - God imparts his own generosity into them, and this shared divine attribute works through that one's character so that they find themselves generous - and their faith is flavored by this profound magnanimity - it permeates all they do.

So it is with teaching - God imparts his desire for his children to learn wisdom, to be set free from the bondage that deceit and ignorance - He puts this same hunger in the teacher - and the one who receives this hunger works it out in his own personality - he not only digs deep into the word of God, but wants to share the treasures he finds there. The teacher is a willing student, and the flavor of his faith is according to his gift.

Now, I could run through all the gifts, but I am sure you get my drift. Spiritual gifts share some common elements; first, they work themselves out in your personality. You aren't zapped by God and suddenly have superhuman ability. You have only as much ability as you ever had - but what is "new" is that you have a new driving desire that "didn't used to be there" It isn't that you feel it ("Hey, I suddenly feel some new desire!" - rather it is that you find that you are more interested in certain aspects of Christianity than others.

Now, when I first came to the Lord, I noticed that I had a devouring hunger to read the word of God, to attend bible studies, and to understand exactly how to be a Christian. It was not a chore to read the bible for hours on end, nor to listen to sermon after sermon online, nor to study theology, or attend three or four bible studies a week - it was no chore, it was my pleasure.

I was quite surprised when I joined my first church to find that there were believers who did not enjoy studying God's word. What was wrong with them? Were they really Christians?

Now, let's go back to this Christian Education Ministry Committee (CEMC) thing. I had come to understand that this passion inside me for learning God's word, and then for sharing what I had learned indicated that God had gifted me as a teacher. It took a while to accept that, but once I did it was plain enough. So I offered my service to the chairman of the CEMC - because I felt I should be involved in a teaching ministry.

The Chairman had other plans however. He was an administrator, and boy did he love meetings. I didn't get to teach, but I suddenly found myself attending "what are we going to do" sort of leadership meetings. And it was in such a meeting that he and I came to a very pronounced disagreement.

He was of the opinion that the sole purpose of Christian Education was to train people to go door to door and share the gospel. I kid you not - all that seemed to matter to this fellow was that we get Christian's out there winning souls as soon as possible. I was of the opinion that what was needed was a solid biblical foundation - that soul winning happens naturally enough when a person is settled in their faith, and that the best way to settle a person in their faith is by teaching them to be biblical Christians.

At the end of that meeting, I determined that it would be best for this team if I resigned. Perhaps I was being narrow minded? This fellow had been an elder in His previous church, and was now a leader in our church - He had been a faithful servant of our Lord for at least twenty years longer than myself - who was I to disagree with him? I was convinced that he was dangerously wrong, and I felt that there was something more to my own convictions than just wanting it done "my way." Surely it would be a healthy thing for me to step down and consider my own ways, to examine myself and see if I was merely being pig-headed and carnal.

Yet I couldn't step down, there was too much to do, and because we were in the middle of a very large project, I decided that whatever I did decide, it would be best to humble myself for the time being, and seek the Lord in it - the pressing need allowed me to put a deadline on it - when this project was done I would make up my mind.

It took a year or so.

In that time I had many opportunities to clash with this fellow, and always it was on the matter of what direction and emphasis should be placed on the ministry in the church. He felt that as a new, small church we needed to bolster the ranks - to establish ourselves as a viable church with numbers - but I was of the opinion that numbers do not make a church, and that our primary duty as a new work was to make certain that the foundation was strong before we began building. When the project ended I was still of that opinion and so I resigned.

But it wasn't until years later that I began to see what was really happening there.

You see deep down, I had always been suspicious of any Christian who didn't or wouldn't take the time to pour over God's word with the same zeal and zest as I had. I was looking at Christianity through the tinting of my gifting. If you weren't driven in exactly the same way as I was being driven, I secretly doubted that you were even saved, or that if you were saved, that you were probably backslidden or something. But I saw one day as I looked back on these first meetings that the problem was that both myself and this other fellow were looking at Christianity through our own tinted glasses. He was an administrator, and probably something of an evangelist - he wanted meetings, meetings, meetings, and souls, souls, souls. He was concerned that there was something wrong with my faith because I didn't want to have so many meetings, and while I saw evangelism as an important thing, I didn't see it as the primary ministry we as a church should be investing ourselves in.

There were others on that team - one was clearly gifted in the direction of hospitality and was something of a peacemaker this one felt that we should be reaching into the community more, with programs and whatnot - that we should getting busy - we should be letting people know we were there in the community and finding ways to minister to the community, and I am sure this one probably thought the others on the team simply didn't see "the obvious."

When I realized that we as Christians tend to do this - to (in our ignorance and pride) presume that whatever our own experience has been, it is the universal measure of what legitimate Christianity looks like. We might not say it, and some may express this more than others - but largely, until we know better, we tend to see "the thing the church needs the most" in the context of our own spiritual gifting.

I can't tell you how understanding this has helped me as a leader in our church. What once had the power to frustrate and even upset me - now I rejoice over. Where once I was on a mission to see my vision of the church come to be, now I see that my vision is only one piece in God's puzzle - that the role of the leader is not to impose their vision on the church, but to see how their vision fits into God's greater plan - and to understand that much of what I think the church needs is flavored by my own gifting. When I begin to =value= what God has given others instead of viewing it as an impediment to what I think has to be done - then I am on the doorway to genuine leadership.
posted by Daniel @ 7:10 AM  
7 Comments:
  • At 6:08 PM, February 23, 2007, Blogger Danielle said…

    Thanks Dan, I needed to hear that.

     
  • At 7:10 PM, February 23, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    I came to this realization earlier by watching, believe it or not, the US Senate in action on C-Span...

     
  • At 6:14 AM, February 24, 2007, Blogger Baptist Girl said…

    1 Corinthians 12:27-28 "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues."

    Isn't it great that the Lord uses each member of the body of Christ to uses his natural abilities to do the work of Christ. Each deverse part makes up the body of Christ. Great post.

    Cristina

     
  • At 7:04 AM, February 24, 2007, Blogger Garry Weaver said…

    Excellent post, Daniel. This is a truth that I wish I could learn once-for-all, however, it seems that I have to re-learn it over and over.Thanks for sharing.

     
  • At 12:15 PM, February 24, 2007, Blogger SJANZ said…

    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for the good insight and may God continue to grace you with the humility that’s evident in this post! Seems that people with passionate and driven giftedness is a good thing for the local church. The key is, as you’ve pointed out here, not to be threatened by it. And when we, with humility and by God's grace, are willing to understand and embrace all of those (biblical) differences, God will be glorified and His kingdom will advance in our neighborhoods!

     
  • At 7:07 AM, February 25, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Danielle - I am glad it was useful to you.


    JD - Yay! You are commenting on my blog again! I missed you man, for a long time you were my only poster. I thought you were mad at me, now I know you were just preoccupied with C-span.

    Cristina - It is great, and humbling too.

    Garry - when you have it down solid, let me know what you did so I can do it too. ;-)

    Steve - I find that nothing helps a leadership meeting flow like remembering that God has put that brother there because he has what is needed in the big picture. What a great thing it is that our God doesn't paint with a monochrome brush.

     
  • At 4:07 PM, February 25, 2007, Blogger bluecollar said…

    "my vision is only one piece in God's puzzle -"

    EXCELLENT!!!

     
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