Rocky III, Tiger Woods, King Saul, Francis Chan, and Getting Rid of Distractions
Perhaps it is the fact that I was watching Rocky III last night, maybe it is my frustration with all the extra crap of the holiday season, or maybe it is the blog posts that I have been reading lately. Whatever it is, I am starting to believe that we need a good refocusing.
Over the last few months my wife and I have significantly downsized our living space. We moved from a big, beautiful apartment in the middle of Baltimore into the basement of an ailing family member on Long Island. With our living space chopped by about 75% we had to begin to make decisions about what was important to us, and what was put into storage. We had to be intentional about everything that we brought with us, and hand to be willing to let some stuff that we really like go into storage for this season. Throughout this process we have been surprised with how little we need to live.
Several years ago while serving in Atlanta I remember a series at 12 Stone that dealt with clutter. The stage was piled high with boxes and junk everywhere and Kevin Myers talked about how junk creeps in on us and gets in the way of what we are called to pursue. From time to time those messages come back to me as I begin to let junk creep into my life and get in the way of what I am called to.
Over the last few weeks I have been reading all sorts of blogs and articles that speak to issues that stem from the junk that creeps into life:
- 10 Ways To Tell If People Love Your Church More Than They Love Jesus
- Avoid Being Bigger Than The Game
- A Tough Season For Believers
The first article is pretty self explanatory, though I will share number two with you: The average testimony ends with “…and then I came to this church. The End.” The second takes a quote from Tiger Woods and compares his story to the story of King Saul. Saul had a good run for a while there, but then started to like the idea of being king and began taking liberties he had no business taking. The last article walks through the distractions facing the church as we move forward, but touches on the struggle that I and many others feel themselves being drawn into when he says: this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled. Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack.
So how does this relate to Rock III? Rocky III starts with us seeing our hero having gone soft. It has gotten so bad that his beloved trainer Mickey tells him “The worst thing that happened to you, that can happen to any fighter: you got civilized.” Rocky has lost his edge, has gotten comfortable with being the Champ, and ends up paying a painful price at the hands of Mr. T. It is here that Apollo Creed steps in and tells Rocky what he lost:
The rest of the movie consists of Rocky getting back the eye of the tiger (and Foreigner singing “Eye of the Tiger”) through going back to his old school training ways and stripping away all the distractions.
Where am I going with all this?
It is time for those of us in church leadership to sit down and ask ourselves some hard questions:
- What are we called to do?
- What are we doing?
- What is keeping us from our calling?
- How do we eliminate the distractions?
In each of the blog posts above distractions crept in and got in the way of a calling: in the first it is worship of the church and not Christ, the second is worship of oneself, the third is worshiping cultural stuff (the holiday season, politics, etc). There is seldom any intentionality involved in allowing these distractions in our lives or the life of our church… but there is no way to remove them without intentionality and sacrifice.
Earlier this evening I read an article on CNN’s website about Francis Chan. Towards the beginning of the article there was a quote from Chan that says it all: “Even in my own church I heard the words, ‘Francis Chan’ more than I heard the words, ‘Holy Spirit’”. The article goes on to tell of Chan’s decision to step away from his church and his recent travels throughout Asia. Chan took drastic measures to pursue what God was calling him to… some may call it going overboard. The question becomes how far are we willing to go to pursue the calling placed on us?
How do YOU intentional stay hungry for the calling that God has given you?