Melodious Birds or Deafening Fire Crackers
By James (a.k.a. Jim) Poitras, used with permission.
Sitting here writing on a verandah in Guatemala, the land of eternal spring, with early morning birds chirping in God’s heavenly and majestic orchestra in the background. Green is everywhere: plants, lawn, shrubs, trees of all shapes and sizes.
The solitude is interrupted by distant fire crackers. I have been here for less than twelve hours and I have heard those sounds several times. Holidays magnify the sounds. Loud. Roaring. Boisterous. Irritating. The problem, or perhaps, the blessing is you get used to it. You learn to ignore.
Some people are like that; complaining constantly. The result is they are seldom heard. They may even label themselves as missions’ or organizational activists or even leadership change agents. That approach may work at least in the beginning. I guess that is one of the key words: “approach.” Take a reality check. Does your approach turn people off or motivate them in a positive way? Your answer makes all the difference in the world. It’s all a manner of approach: the birds chirping or the firecracker approach? One is pleasing and attracting; the other antagonizing and alienating. One approach opens doors; the other, quite frankly, closes them and slaps you right in the face while closing. One opens the ears. The other closes them. Quickly!
“Wikipedia” is complimentary when it refers to “activists” as “watchdogs and whistle-blowers.” I’m not overly impressed with either. They “promote, impede, or direct change.” Honorable motivations. Sounds great. Again, it is all in the manner of approach. The word “activist” carries with it a contentious feeling and is a close cousin to antagonistic. I presume activists are after a revolution. Problem is revolutions do not frequently effectively take place in the church. It is one place where incremental change and evolution is preferred and safest. Revolutions produce leaders and no followers. So, is it even leadership at all? Not if you buy into the concept that all leaders have followers. Or you can tell a leader by the number of followers trailing behind.
It is certainly noteworthy when people—like the old saying goes—look at things and ask, “Why not?” Remember what is oft quoted. There are three types of people in the world: those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that sit around wondering what happened. I want to, with the Lord’s help, make things happen. I do not want to sit idly by while the world happens. But, neither do I want to cause an explosion with my approach.
Activist: does your approach hinder, hurt, or heal, help your level of influence? Does it bless or blister? Strengthen or splinter? Aggravate or advance?
“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb” (Psalms 19:7-10, NIV).