Don’t be Intimidated, be Inspired!

– by Andy Wade –

That’s right, Don’t be intimidated, be inspired! Those are the words I’m hearing right now and I want to share with you. Often times we hear about all the amazing things people are doing and, because we’re just getting started, we feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and stuck. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Richard Twiss continues to rock my version of reality. A couple weekends ago I attended the memorial celebration for this visionary and prophet. I was blown away as I saw how many different people he touched. I was tempted to compare my life to his, after all, Richard was only a few years older than me. Our western culture demands we spend our time comparing ourselves to one another – how do we measure up? How do our accomplishments look standing along side those of another?

If I were to take that approach to Richard’s life, I would not only look pretty pathetic (whoops, did it again!), I would dishonor God and all that God accomplished through Richard’s all-too-short life. After all, it’s not about me, it’s about us.

  • Moving beyond me, to us
  • from individualism to tribe and community
  • from the consumptive, compartmentalized approach to creation, to embracing all of God’s creation as an amazing gift to which we are intimately connected

As people from all over the globe, all colors and expressions joined together in celebration, I realized that even this man, who I knew mostly through his writings, had become an important part of my story.

I was inspired! That’s what happens when we move beyond “me and you” to “us”. No longer are others’ accomplishments a threat, they are a tremendous gift to be celebrated.

As the weekend progressed I realized how true this is. My brief stay with Springwater Community in the Lents district of Portland, OR, inspired me to see “community” as something way outside the realm of “us doing ministry and good works for them”. It’s really all about all of us together, period.

It’s in the context of “us” that true friendships develop and authentic mutual discipleship can happen.

Lents' little free librariesI was hosted by Brandon and Victoria, part of the Springwater Community. Brandon was sharing with me about how the wonderful micro-libraries came to be in their neighborhood. This cool idea is taking off around the globe and Springwater thought it would be a great addition to their community.

Brandon was pretty clear about the “us and them” issue when it came to this project, “It would have been a lot easier and faster to just build the libraries ourselves. But by building them together, with our neighbors, we built new relationships too.”

It’s interesting to consider: we invite “outsiders” to our events and programs, and we “do ministry” to or for those who have not yet joined “us”. We retain control. We retain power, often even insisting on the power of hosting events on our own territory. If we look at this from the perspective of the “outsider”, it’s all rather intimidating!

Our “missional” agendas work against us because we so often forget that the basis of mission is getting outside of ourselves.

love.bombsFurther inspiration came at a Parish Collective gathering at Lion’s Eye Tavern as I listened to Brian Dormaier from neighboring Woodstock & Arleta-Scott neighborhoods. “Our Happy Block” seemed a curious creature, born outside the church yet in a church parking lot! The story of this imaginative and community-changing process is to detailed to write in this short blog. But do take time to read their story from it’s beginning to where they are today.

As I mentioned, Brain and his church community were invited into something that was already well under way. And that’s often how God works when we “have eyes to see and ears to hear”.

Yes, God is at work in and through us as communities of faith. But God is also at work in the world around us, going before us, going in spite of us, coming along side us, and following after us (often cleaning up our messes).

If our God is big enough, the whole creation is a canvas and we become artist, medium and even part of the canvas itself.

If we insist on only being the artist we’ll become fearful and defensive when God throws opportunities across our path that don’t fit our notions about how “church” is done.

If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, God can explode our “boxes made of ticky-tacky” and help us to experience the divine imprint in all creation.

If we insist on always being the artist, we’ll miss out on tremendous openings to connect with, and learn from, our neighbors.

It’s an interesting thing, the times when we’re most vulnerable are often also the times we feel intimidated. We’re intimidated by the success of others, by change we don’t understand, by things outside our control.

But it’s in these times we have a rare choice. We can continue to be intimidated – which often leads to straight lines drawn in the sand as we move from being intimidated to becoming the intimidator, or we can be inspired by what God is already up to and enter the creative community dance of transformation.

I’m ready to be inspired! How about you?

Where have you seen God already at work in your neighborhood?

Share your stories – we’d love to hear!