Thursday, July 29, 2010
A God of Surprises with Glenn Triezenberg and Kent Meyer
We serve a God of Surprises. Glenn Triezenberg, Director of Career Development, and Kent Meyer, CEO of the YMCA of the Rockies, were our presenters this past Monday for the Leadership Challenge Institute. Both Glenn and Kent shared personal stories, backed by scripture, which reveal that the God who made us and loves us is also a God who continually surprises us.
We began our meeting by discussing the essential qualities of a leader. Glenn encouraged us to think about our lists as we progress through our lives. We may alter or all-together change some of what we now consider to be the essential qualities of a leader. What is important is that we are mindful of what we value in leadership and that our essential qualities of leadership are consistent with God’s plan in our lives.
Glenn then related our essential leadership qualities to the fact that God is a God of surprises. How then do leaders function with uncertainty? When good surprises come, Glenn told us, be grateful. When bad surprises come, have a plan, a proper focus and an attitude of approach. Also, we should understand how to manage grief and loss surprises that match our spiritual, psychological and physical strengths and weaknesses.
From Glenn’s Presentation:
Our God of surprises is also a God who is powerful and in control of our lives as leaders. He has promised to “do a new thing” with each of our lives, even things that may seem impossible like making a road in the wilderness or a river in the desert. These two metaphors in this text are especially clear to us as we experience the grandeur of the mountains. Our Creator God has formed these and all the rivers flowing through them. Will He not also do great things in us?
Will He not also do great things in us?
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
How We Read the Bible: Nate Bradford
Our faith backgrounds affect our understanding of God. Nate Bradford, one of the Associate Chaplains for Residence Life, spoke on Monday evening about just this topic and how we might approach reading the Bible.
Scripture, Tradition, Reason and Experience are all ways that we, as Christians, come to know God and different faith backgrounds emphasize certain aspects over others. Perhaps, Nate said, we can grow in our faith by understating our background and realizing the value in aspects we occasionally overlook. We also learned how the issues that people hold dear tend to affect which scripture passages they often emphasize in their reading of the Bible.
To drive these points home, Nate asked our group to analyze some very well known verses. In this project, we ranked these verses as they related to our understanding of the Bible—not to devalue certain verses, but to understand how we read and interpret the Bible. We then spent some time reading and thinking about the Parable of the Talents. Nate offered to us a non-traditional interpretation of this passage as a way to demonstrate how we can read scripture. We discussed the ideas of canon (the scriptures that influence how we read and understand the Bible and God), genre, the social-historical context of the Biblical story, and the scriptural context of God’s word.
This non-traditional interpretation led to some good discussion about how immense and beautiful the Bible is. The difficulty in interpretation should not be as frustrating as it should be humbling. At no point in Nate’s presentation did he make the claim that he had all the right answers (or that anybody has all the right answers, for that matter), but it’s important to remember that there is a right answer. Reading the Bible is one of the best ways to come to know God, and studying the scripture is not something that can be done quickly or carelessly.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Listening for the Sake of Loving
The Calvin group was thrilled to have Aminah Bradford, one Calvin’s Associate Chaplains of Residence Life, speak to us on Monday night. Using the story of Job, we learned about and shared ideas on attending to suffering people. As leaders, and as members of the Christian faith, we may be called to be with and have compassion for those that are hurting. There will even be times when we, ourselves, are hurting. Learning to listen for the sake of loving, and for the sake of leading, is an important factor in living out Christ’s teaching in our lives.
To do this, we first had to learn some of the wrong ways to listen. Relying on the acting talents of the Calvin group, we had to engage a “sufferer” using assigned, cliché, mishandled attempts at being considerate. Some of us were “Generals” who told the sufferer exactly what he needed to do and when. Others were “Quick Change Artists” who turn the conversation another direction. Some were “Interrogators,” barraging the sufferer with questions about how he got into this state. And some coddled the sufferer, offering cookies and saying, “oh, you poor, poor thing.” This was the “Granny Cup of Tea” group.
The lesson we learned from this was that all these methods, while none of them inherently or all-together bad for dealing with someone in pain, rely on vapid attempts at comfort without being truly compassionate. True compassion, literally meaning “to suffer with,” is what the Bible expects of us in dealing with others’ pain. “How can I be with them in this?” is the question we should ask before “how can I fix this?” Jesus, of course, reveals the most magnificent and pure act of compassion. Not only did he suffer with his people, he suffered for us.
To mark the middle of the program and to allow the Calvin group to bond, while thinking about where they’ve been this summer and where they’ll go in the future, the LCI had a retreat to Meadow Creek Reservoir. We played and explored around the lake, following it up with tin foil dinners around the campfire. We dedicated an hour of our evening to solo-time—a chance to quietly and solitarily reflect on God’s work in our lives and through this program. We returned to make smores, set up tents, and sleep. In the morning, the men and women of the Calvin group returned together for morning worship until it was time to leave and we returned to SMR for work and a strong finish to the summer.