Posts Tagged ‘formation’

Desiring the Kingdom

Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Recently, I read the book entitled Desiring the Kingdom by James (“Jamie”) K. A. Smith (2009).  As a philosopher, Smith attempts to provide a critique of current Christian worldview parlance and approach by offering another model in which to view the human person, formation, faith, and the role of the Christian college or university.

Rather than a book review, per say, I want to offer my reactions and recommend that you consider reading it yourself, rather than simply reacting to my comments.  While I do not agree with all that Smith advances regarding formational approaches to the human person, I believe that his perspectives are worthy of consideration and offer those in Christian higher education and the church a perspective worthy of discussion and dialogue.

Overall the book attempts to rearticulate the telos (or goal) of Christian education from being one that relates to establishing a distinctively Christian worldview through the development of the cognitive domain to being one that views education as formational and guided by what we love and desire, as fostered through worship.  What he aims at is the differentiation between education as informative and education as formative.  As you can well imagine, this topic greatly interests me. 

Smith critiques an understanding of the Christian faith as being reduced to a set of ideas and principles, which creates worldview thinking at the expense of our calling to be passionate followers of Christ who love rightly both God and neighbor.  Smith argues that we are oriented to the world by the primacy of that love. Therefore, Smith offers Christian worship as the most profound practice that shapes our identity and takes us beyond a mere belief system to a fully embodied identity as loving God and neighbor. 

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Don’t Be So Dull!

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 by James Flynn

Perhaps you have the same struggle as me.  I am not in imminent danger of tossing away my salvation to adopt a life of wonton sin and pleasure.  I have been married for 32 years and plan on staying that way.  I have been “doing the ministry thing” for just about three decades now, so I am not plotting to reject my calling any time soon.  I haven’t kicked the dog lately or called anyone bad names.  So what do I struggle with?  Dullness of heart.  Not flaming hardness, just insidious dullness. That is my weekly struggle, and whatever else you struggle with, you probably have that one on your list. Just like an automobile, our spiritual life does not maintain itself, and requires regular maintenance to keep it running in tip-top shape.  I determined a long time ago I was not interested in a spiritual life that runs like an old clunker – life is too short for that, and eternity too long.  My priority each day is to chase away a dull spirit so I can live each day to its fullest.   

The Scriptures record God’s ongoing frustration with people “. . . Who have eyes but do not see, Who have ear, but do not hear” (Jer. 5:21). It’s one thing to have a set of eyes and a pair of ears, but it’s another thing to use them. Human beings are notoriously effective at hearing what we want to hear. Our spiritual eyes and ears can become dull (Isa. 6:10) and that is a dangerous place to be. We listen and see selectively on our own terms, often when it is convenient and expected. Spiritual blindness and dullness of hearing can occur when we drift away from proper relationship with God…

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Let Me Hear Your Voice…

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 by James Flynn

Hearing the voice of the one you love is one of the greatest joys of any relationship. When you love someone, communication literally determines what you possess together. People will go to great lengths just to hear a few words from the one they love, because words are the way human beings connect and share what is in the depth of our hearts. In Song of Solomon, the bride longs to hear the voice of her groom: “O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, In the secret place of the steep pathway, Let me see your form, Let me hear your voice; For your voice is sweet, And your form is lovely” (Song of Sol. 2:14).

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Facebook or “FaceTime”?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 by James Flynn

Do you have the same problem as I do?  I am convinced that I have perfected the art of getting caught up in the little things that don’t make a lot of difference while neglecting things that are most important.  I have to watch myself.  To this day, I am not very active on Facebook because I think it would consume me and other things that are more important would suffer. Maybe you are a lot like me and have been asking yourself some important questions about how you can best use your time—it is so easy to get caught up in what is good and miss what is best..

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David and Saul: How Our Backgrounds Impact Our Leadership

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Lately, I’ve been considering the challenges of leadership related to personal identity, spirituality, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal dynamics.  Over the next few weeks, my blog topics will relate to areas of leadership and spirituality. 

Specifically, what causes us to stand during the exercise of leadership when we are misunderstood, resisted, attacked, and rejected?  How does the spiritual life of the Christian leader inform such times?  And when we are in supportive roles to leaders and are rebuffed, how can we process these disappointments?  Can anyone relate to these challenges?

If I were to interview King David related to his leadership challenges, he would have much to draw upon, beginning with his volatile relationship with King Saul.  David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel as future king, became Saul’s armor–bearer, and killed Goliath.  He bore all of the marks of a strong emerging leader.  He was bright, gracious, bold and confident in the Lord, musically gifted, and honored authority.  Oh, and did I mention nice-looking?

As the first king of Israel, Saul was quite insecure about his role (i.e., he was hidden in the baggage and had to be brought out to be anointed king) and jealously reacted to the attention lavished upon David after slaying Goliath.  The women’s chant, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands,” did not bode well for Saul; wherein Saul concluded, “What more can he get but the kingdom?” (1 Sam. 18:7-9).  Jealousy became the stronghold that opened the door to evil spirits in Saul’s heart, which eventually contributed to his downfall.

When David wanted to genuinely serve God and Saul, what possessed Saul to want to kill him (notwithstanding an evil spirit)? Allow me suggest one way of viewing their relationship that integrates psychology and leadership perspectives into some kind of sense-making that provides further insight into the 1 Samuel narrative.

Psychologists inform us that  styles of attachment in infancy and childhood impact how we view others in adulthood, including those in authority and the world in general.  Based on the ground-breaking work of psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, who examined care-giving during infancy, three primary attachment styles have been identified:  (1) secure, (2) anxious/ambivalent, and (3) avoidant.  First, those with a secure adult attachment style generally possess positive self-esteem, healthy self-confidence, and feel well-liked among peers. Second, those with an anxious/ambivalent adult attachment style typically have low self-esteem, a heightened sensitivity to rejection by others, and may expect to be devalued.  Third, those with an avoidant adult attachment style do not trust others, prefer isolation, and expect others to be insensitive, unsupportive, and unresponsive. 

My hypothesis is that Saul had a very anxious/ambivalent adult attachment style that persevered throughout his lifetime. On the other hand, David had a secure attachment style, primarily forged early in his life during times with God, who repeatedly protected and delivered him from Saul and others who sought his demise. This secure attachment to God (as his ultimate Care-giver) gave David a strong personal identity as God’s beloved and the place where David ran to when troubles rose. David drew upon the Lord’s love throughout his leadership journey as his primary source of love, comfort, protection and identity (more on that in next week’s blog).

Rejection in the exercise of leadership (as one who exercises leadership or one who follows) can be a deeply painful experience.  The result?  We mercilessly blame ourselves and/or experience a huge wobble of personal identity and confidence without understanding the spiritual, emotional, relational dynamics at work among all parties. 

When you review your past or present leadership challenges, how might understanding yours and other’s attachment styles assist you to put these challenges into greater perspective?