24 January, 2017

Too much transparency?

Today I'm on the lower end of the natural swing back towards normality that happens after a high like we had on Saturday. It is, unfortunately, matched with a slight lull in my work. I say unfortunately, because I find lows easier to deal with when I have plenty of interesting work on hand to apply myself to.

I'm also struggling with any ideas to apply to a blog post here. But I have saved up a few links to articles that I thought might be interesting to those who come and visit here.

This one: Are we complaining too much?, by a former missionary to Taiwan is a good one. It's back on that old theme of mine, about honesty and transparency, especially for missionaries.

Here's a small sample:
Are we [missionaries] complaining too much? No, I think not, at least not yet. And here’s why I think we have a ways to go before we get there.
For too long, the church has put missionaries on precariously high pedestals, and because of the continued pressures to raise funds and promote ministries, missionaries can find themselves taking part in the pedestal building, as well. It will take a while for us, with repeated reminders, to dismantle the platforms.
Living overseas can be very difficult, and we need more, not less, authenticity so that others who are struggling won’t have to say, “I must be the only one.” Transparent sharing also helps future missionaries have realistic expectations so that they can better prepare for future challenges and fend off disappointment.
I also like some other points made towards the end of the article:
  • we need to be careful with our authenticity (i.e. who we share what with),
  • we should avoid claiming to represent everyone else, everyone has a different story and is at a different part of their story, and
  • we need to watch our attitudes: it's easy to move from transparency to grumbling and complaining.
But possibly the best point is that we need to be be careful not to think that one small insight into a story is the whole story. Most stories are just a window in time. It's worth hanging around to hear what the rest of the story will sound like, how it will end.

Dare I add a wrestling illustration in here? It's easy to take a short-term view of wrestling, but that almost always is unsatisfying. It is only when you take a longer-term view that you get a bigger, and often better story. Our eldest son said the other day, "It isn't all about winning." Indeed, there is a much bigger picture to doing sport than that.

Similarly in mission. It isn't all about this discouragement or that triumph. It is easy to get caught up in the trees and lose sight of the forest.

Ultimately we are to give God the glory due his name. Ps 29:2 puts it plainly.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness (NIV).
New International Reader's Version says:
Praise the Lord for the glory that belongs to him.
    Worship the Lord because of his beauty and holiness.
King James Version, which, unusually, I quite like:
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; 
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The Message is a bit different, as usual:
In awe before the glory,
    in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
    Dress your best to honor him!
That, is the big picture. So, if we're aiming for transparency, it is not to get pity, it is not to point out other people's faults, or the system's faults. It is to show up how flawed we are, this world is, and ultimately how much greater God is. It is to show how incredible it is that he uses such flawed, weak people as us to achieve his purposes in this broken world.

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