So, that's one week of lectures down. One week to go.
Spirituality and Leadership. Check. Urban Theology. Well, here we come… I guess… 😉
I actually get a little bit cheated out of my weekend as I have Saturday lectures too… You know? Getting ready for that good ol' dissertation that needs to be submitted later on this year.
But this evening, as you'd expect me to be lamenting the woes of student-life, I have to admit that I'm actually quite energised by it all. Yep, I'm well aware that part of this could well be to do with being a prize geek, but it's just been a good day. An all in all good day.
Thank You Jesus.
To start with, it was a stunning morning. I mean, this was my view as I walked to uni at 8am…
Seriously. No filter. I mean, that's some setting for a prayer walk.
Secondly, I had the assessment panel for the huge folio that I have to submit to pass the Community Learning and Development specialisation of my course… And I passed!! (I wanted to say 'nailed it' but that sounded conceited without some context… ;)) Nothing more is needed, feedback was excellent, and I was wholeheartedly encouraged. In lots of ways, good feedback in my folio means way more than getting a good assignment grade. Because, that's my actual work with young people, teams and organisations. That's the bit that's real. That's the bit that you can't academic-out. So yeah, praise God for that! 🙂 Oh, and that video I've been lamenting the editing of? Also checked and good to go!!
Thirdly, it just feels like a productive learning day. I feel pretty focused on where I'm going with these next assignments. Which is good as the first one is due two weeks after I land in Sapporo…
We've all been doing presentations throughout this week on a life lesson about leadership and/or spirituality that God has really been teaching us. And today I did mine. Now I've been mulling over a few options this week, because there are truly so many options and examples… But I landed on probably the most painful, valuable and essential lesson that God has ever taught me.
Leadership and vulnerability.
The reality of not being perfect and not being put together and having to realise that God loves you and uses you, mess and all. And I shared some of my testimony with these guys who have in some level, seen some of this journey outworked in knowing me over the last 2 years.
And the quote I came back to was that one I love by Shane Claiborne.
I've become less concerned with what I am doing and more concerned with who I am becoming… Which is a lover of Jesus.
I love that. I love the truth in that. I love that we have a God who redeems our stories. And then uses us to redeem others.
And I love that leadership isn't about being strong all the time. Sometimes it's about being vulnerable and instead, pointing to God, who is our strength. In fact, more and more I think I come back to the fact that He uses me most when I am in that place of weakness and acknowledgment that 'I got nothing'. Because then I can really recognise that He is everything and gets all the glory. Every, single, tiny bit.
Our lecturer made a statement in his reflections this afternoon that stuck with me. He was talking about suffering in leadership. About taking up a cross.
We expect suffering, but we're not cynical.
And that's a wonderful paradox. To go into situations and calling with eyes open. To know that Jesus has called us to walk a path that will involve pain sometimes. But to remain filled with hope and wonder and joy. To not be cynical. To love with abandon, even though you know that it may cost. To realise that life isn't about not being hurt, it's about trusting a God who is big enough to carry us though, and take risks.
Elsewhere, Shane Claiborne writes these words, which hit me hard, because I believe them.
All around you, people will be tiptoeing through life, just to arrive at death safely. But dear children, do not tiptoe. Run, hope, skip or dance, just don't tiptoe.
Or put in different language,Teresa of Avila I think is getting at this same kind of challenge.
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
A friend of mine (with amazing taste in literature) gave me a book recently called A Heart of Winter by a Japanese author called Ayako Miura. And man, would I recommend this book… But with a warning about the fact it is both beautifully written and completely harrowing at the same time. Because this book tells an inspired narrative about abuse and hatred and the long road to forgiveness. (It has a happy ending… Remember…) And the main character of the story, a young woman called Kiyomi, bears so many similarities to some of the girls that I work with that I was emotionally totally drawn in at times.
And although this is a story, it demonstrated for me, in a beautifully clear way, the longevity of the relationship that is needed in work with young people (or older people) facing this level of brokenness. The risk in loving them. The perseverance and patience and understanding. The vulnerability. You can't tiptoe into and around their lives. And I guess the same is true for all of us, messy, broken people that we are before we meet the great Healer.
And so that's where my thoughts and prayers are landing right now. Which is a challenge, but a beautiful one. And an encouragement, but a beautiful one.
So yeah, what I'm basically saying is all go read some Shane Claiborne, Teresa of Avila and Ayako Miura. You are, quite frankly, probably never going to get a more random reading list… 😉