Decentralization. Autonomy. Freedom.
Freedom to move and to make decisions. Freedom to make our mistakes and to learn from them. Freedom to win our own victories and to revel in them, knowing that we were the ones who started and finished the endeavor.
Nothing left but a broken line, an association to where we once grew… While there was a time we thrived under the tutelage and covering of a greater entity, the time would eventually come where we ourselves would need to honor said entity – not by way of staying, but more in leaving. To honor the center by leaving it, and by being the center ourselves.
That’s essentially what we talked about earlier this evening with a group of other pastors who were working on their own plans of observing decentralization in our own ministries. They had their own ideas, and rightly so – they’ve been pastors for far longer than I have, and I’m just now learning the ropes of not only preaching, but administering an entire church – not just a service, mind you, but a church. I was reminded of this by one pastor who was in the meeting who I consider a mentor of sorts.
As I was thinking about all of the things that need to be covered, in the financial aspect to be precise, I’ve seen how, even if we call this a ministry with volunteers, the same principles apply when it comes to not only employment, but just good leadership – take care of your people, and they will take care of you. Businesses take care of their workers, and the workers in return not only give back by way of good work, but more than that – loyalty. And this isn’t just even about leading other people, but also leadership in the form of self-care and good stewardship – take care of your body, and your body will take care of you.
To just focus on that for a moment, I’ve understood how my body was ‘grateful’ to me for taking care of me, especially when I was afflicted by that awful blood infection during the first month of February. Despite all I was going through my body stepped up by way of being able to get me to drive, to walk, down to just the basic tasks – if my brain and body weren’t conditioned by physical exercise, I believe things would have been a whole lot worse for me, and I probably wouldn’t be this energetic at this time. And really, I meant what I said when I mentioned my brain, and not just my body benefitting from exercise – I can’t stress this enough: Your mind stands to benefit just as much, if not more than your physical body with every burpee, every lift, every pull, every step, every punch… Jim Kwik says that as the mind grooves, the body moves, but as the body moves, the mind grooves as well.
Wait, I think he said the latter instead of what I said he said. But you get the point, don’t you? The body and mind are connected that way. Good body, good mind. Weak mind, weak body.
Take care of your body, and your body will take care of you. Take care of your mind, and your mind will take care of you. Take care of your finances, your belongings, your tools, your relationships… take care of each and every aspect of your being, and you will be taken care of in return.
Now this is not to say that you ‘take care’ of your being by way of avoiding anything and everything that would harm you. You don’t tell a child not to climb a chair, but you do tell him or her to be careful. You don’t keep a knife from a pre-teen who wants to slice an apple, but you do hold her hand while she cuts through the fruit. And finally, you take care, not only by discerning when to trust your being to be careful, or to employ more of yourself to ensure precise operations, but in some cases, you don’t let your child anywhere near a running chainsaw.
The point is, taking care of yourself is not to shelter yourself. You need to constantly take calculated risks, and learn from your mistakes and victories… And I believe my team, myself included, have taken our own risks in almost a year of guided operation, that we could make our own attempts in standing on our own. As we take care of ourselves, we will not hesitate to take others under our wing to take care of, with the philosophies and ideals we’ve learned for ourselves, so that one day we would also ‘give birth’ to strong men and women who would also take on the world, themselves. The cycle goes on, and on.
Of course, this all has its roots in Christ and His finished work. I could not move on without mentioning how the One who started taking any real care of any of us was God, who, in His perfect time and wisdom, sent Christ, who loved us first and gave Himself for each and every one of us, that all who would believe would not perish but have everlasting life. I mentioned this one famous passage from the Bible only to emphasize ‘everlasting’ life not only means a life without end, but a life without borders, either. This means that before we had any chance of taking care of ourselves, He took care of us by taking away the one thing that made everything meaningless (sin), and imparted upon us the one thing that really mattered (righteousness unto life).
As the song goes, the beat goes on. I mean, Christ took care of us, so in the same manner, we could have a full and holistic care for others. We could also have a full and holistic care for what we have been blessed with in this world regarding possessions, positions, and power.
And, if I may: As Christ led us by way of the power of the Holy Spirit, ushering us out of the darkness into the kingdom of His glorious light, so we are able to lead ourselves, from a position of unwavering and absolute salvation, away from the mindsets which once plagued us which we no longer have any obligation to, to glory, today, and the next day, glory to greater glory. In the process we demonstrate love for one another – and I’d like to borrow a little of Pastor Joedy here as he shared from Colossians 1 – by way of proclaiming (as in sharing good news), teaching, and admonishing (rebuking in love), ultimately reminding us, refreshing us of God’s everlasting love as seen through Christ every day… And as we remind each other, we remind ourselves, and in the process of being constantly refreshed and renewed by this Living Word, these mercies that are new every morning, so every fiber of our being, every move we make, down to the things – not just the people, but the things – we interact with are also treated with the same care and leadership.
That was a stretch. I call it the Paul syndrome – sentences compounding over each other… but this time I hope you see the point. Christ is as universal as He is the center. The End as much as the Beginning, the Last as much as the First, infinite Creator who naturally encompasses anything and everything in this reality we perceive, and beyond. Surely He is with every organism, and every organic entity, in each and every part, whether it be centralized as fiat, or decentralized as anything else.
With that said, what’s happening in our church isn’t perceived as a threat, but more as an opportunity to thrive. To see where we lack, and to see where we can take advantage and create opportunities.
After all, we are free, and free indeed.