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Growing People God’s Way?

We have a habit in our slice of the world. I think it’s the conservative in us. We see the old as the only good. We distrust change. We have difficulty discerning so we keep the bathwater and the baby.

And then in our preservation, we attach God’s name to it and further reify the old, humanly constructed, and perhaps clich├ęd or even dangerous. That dirty, cold, stinky water is somehow called holy just because it’s there.

1940s infant care becomes “God’s way,” despite its proven medical dangers.

Misogynistic pictures of marriage become “God’s ideal,” despite their abusive bent.

Imperialistic ideologies becomes “God’s plan,” despite their lack of moral justification.

19th-century violent parenting approaches become “God’s command,” despite their lack of biblical support.

Our views of management are no different. Theory X manangement has become “God’s best,” despite its human construction, its impracticality, and its complete lack of biblical support. Theory X assumes that people are stupid, lazy, and selfish. They have to be made to work. Threats, coercion, and micromanaging are the only way to get anything done. Control is the key.

That’s the way most companies were run in the past. Think Henry Ford and Rockefeller. And when we forget that that’s a human management style, we think that it’s God’s management style. We think that leadership is about control. We think our charges are lazy and fleshly. We think that punishment is the only way to motivate them. We even corrupt the beautiful example of Christ’s servant leadership to mean that we serve those “above” us and lead those “below” us.

But that’s just not in Scripture. There’s no org chart in the New Testament. None. There’s no “boss” in Paul. There’s Christ washing the disciples’ feet. And you can’t even fathom that in Theory X. No, in Theory X, you’d have to hire an intern to do that dirty work.

And, in fact, when Paul addresses organizational management, he gives the harsher “rebuke” to those most often thought to be “above” the other in the relationship. Parents must not provoke their children to wrath. Husbands must love their wives like Christ loved His church. Masters, don’t threaten (i.e. don’t do Theory X) because your Master in Heaven doesn’t respect your position as much as the world does.

And yet we’re the biggest Theory Xers when God is so clear that that’s not His best. We create more elaborate org charts. We avoid Matthew-18-conflict management and hide behind the secrecy of the bureaucracy.

No, God wants us to shepherd. And a shepherd gently nudges, closely carries, prevents missteps, and cleans off dingle-berries. He doesn’t threaten or punish. He knows that his sheep are just sheep, and he’s not after control. Controlling and coercing a sheep is just foolishness. Instead he guides, always knowing that God is, too, gently nudging, closely carrying him too.

If we’d just be a tad self-reflexive, if we’d just be a tad more informed, we’d be more likely to see the world’s ways for what they really are — shipwrecked replacements for God’s best.

7 thoughts on “Growing People God’s Way?

  1. Mad props!! Thanks for the reminder. I was listening to the radio on the way in to work yesterday and I heard a sound bite from Charles Swindoll (SP) describing sheep in a way I have never heard of in any baptist church before. Sheep are dumb and can’t think for themselves. Left to themselves they’ll wander away and just find the “greener grass” only to realize after it’s to late that they’re lost. Sheep don’t need to be herded, they need to be led. Thanks for the encourgament.

  2. I am wondering about the difference in applying Camille’s insights in a Christian setting and a business or political setting. How much of a difference does that make? For example, it was a very low view of human nature, driven by a belief in the depravity of man, that led to our elaborate system of governmental checks and balances. In business, elaborate systems of internal control are needed became employees are thieves; companies without strict auditors end up like Enron.

    But that is the world of unsaved people. Churches consist of sinners, but sinners with a new nature. Perhaps when we import the control-heavy system of management into the Christian area, we are bringing in the very philosophy of the world and calling it the view of God.

    I find the point that we as Christians rush to label our latest plan “God’s way” also provoking. Why do we do that?

  3. **Perhaps when we import the control-heavy system of management into the Christian area, we are bringing in the very philosophy of the world and calling it the view of God. **

    YES!! Ironic, isn’t it? We just think the old is the best. Tsk-tsk.

    **I find the point that we as Christians rush to label our latest plan “God’s way” also provoking. Why do we do that? **

    Because it sells so well? :/

  4. “Only one in charge” is correct, if you submit to God being that One. The problem here is that so many presume to speak for God and add their own belief system as dogma. That is where they all go wrong. The pastors and leaders are to be “under-shepherds” to the Good Shepherd. Instead, they seem to think He is too busy elsewhere and has left them in charge of it all.

    The older I get, the more gray there seems to be. I still find black and white – very stark black and white indeed – but there is less and less of it. My God has called me to obedience to Him, not some creed or institution or (gasp) person. I think the “Pioneer Theology” version of the clergy fits best – the clergy is the cook, serving up what the Spirit provides for the nourishment of the pioneers.

  5. So well written once again. I remember when I first started reading The Message version of the Bible and read all the passages on “authority” that the IFB had always preached. And it was this HUGE light bulb that the very way in which the leaders twisted those verses, made them mean the OPPOSITE of what Paul was actually saying. It was the exact opposite. That’s what took my breath away and started me on my adventure back through the Bible in that version verse by verse. Then marking and xing everything I heard said one particular way, that in effect was taught to me 100% differently.

    That’s when I had no doubt at all that our childhood was all heresy. From beginning to end. Heresy.

    And it is so WONDERFUL to be around healthy people…in that healthy world, where the people who are supposedly “above” the others, see themselves the right way. It’s just awesome and fills me with incredible joy.

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