.::Independence & Dependence

I attended a conference on Youth Ministry at Princeton a few weeks back, so for her 11th birthday, I took my daughter to Philadelphia for the weekend before the conference.  Naither of us had been there before, and I looked forward to going to the birthplace of our nation.  I did not expect what happened while I was there.

First, I had known this was the place where the Declaration and Constitution were signed.  But it wasn’t until I wan on the tour of Independence Hall that I was overwhelmed (to the point of tears) by significance of both of those events and what that meant to history.  Here is what I mean:

I didn’t realize that the men in that room who signed the Declaration had such a difficult task that they were called to.  These men had to essentially commit treason in order to follow their convictions.  How difficult it must have been for our founding fathers to agonize over what their signatures not only mean to the future of the colonies, by if they lost the war, what their signature might have meant to their family names and the shame that it may have brought upon them.

I didn’t realize how controversial Independence was as there were so many who still remained loyal to Britain.  How difficult it must have been to have to endure the criticism from the Loyalists in print, in person.  Perhaps by neighbors, family and friends.

Both of these illustrate the point that leadership is difficult and lonely. Just as it was for the founding fathers, leadership is difficult in that it inevitably brings one to have to make difficult, agonizing decisions that are unpopular by some segment of the population (congregation).  Very rarely can a church leader make a decision that is embraced by everyone in the body. Perhaps, this is why James warns one about becoming a teacher/leader, or why Paul details so many relational qualities associated with Elders and Deacons.

This brings me to the second point of what happened in that room in July 1776, leadership is lonely. When decisions that are revolutionary are made, that leaves the leader in an extremely lonely place.  Decisions like Independence leave one in a place that alienates them from someone usually until the benefits of such decision are evident by the majority.  Unfortunately, in the church, this usually this doesn’t happen until long after the benefits are seen.  And in the cases where there aren’t and benefits of such a decision, well, we all know that this isn’t pretty.

BUT

As history has shown since that hot July day in Philadelphia, something Transcendant happened in that room, with those men, and this nation.  That is what overwhelmed me.  Was that in this room where I was standing, something happened that changed history.  Ths history of the Western world was altered for who knows how long, because of the bravery and vision of the 56 men in that room.

This is just a sliver of what I hope to bring into the classroom with my students.  Vision, purpose, conviction, that alters the history of the church and the world. I hope to stir in my students what Bill Hybels calls a “Holy Discontent,” so that they can look at what is happening in the church and not settle for mediocrity, for the status quo; but to have a VISION for what God desires for the Kingdom and them mobilize for that change.

May they Declare:

Independence from Lukewarmness

Independence from Apathy

Independence from Materialism

Independence from Cheap Grace

Independence from Status Quo Faith.

And May they Declare:

Dependence on a Holy God

Dependence on The Grace of Jesus Christ

Dependence on the work of the Holy Spirit in their Hearts

Dependence on accountability and encouragement that comes from Life in the Communion of Faith

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