I have been rereading some of my earlier writings and today I came across an article I wrote for a church newsletter last year, entitled Fast or Slow and it got me to thinking about how things have changed, even within the last year.
The original articles premise related to whether building a great business applied to building a great church. The question came from an article in the business magazine Fast Company titled, Slowly I Turned…Step by Step…Inch by Inch… I found that the arguments that the author was making about the best way to build a great company (steady incremental improvements that are gradual, slow, measured, and organized) also applied when considering the best way to build a great church. But on rereading the article I was struck by how little time we are willing to wait to see real results in anything, not just online, say in blogs (dont you hate it when there is nothing new on a blog you like), but everywhere. It seems as if our ability to wait, to hold off immediate gratification, is diminishing rapidly. This is especially upsetting to me as a Christian. You ask why? Because of the God in whom I live and move and have my being. Let me quote from my earlier writing:
God is many things, but one thing that stands out about Him, especially when you read the scriptures as historical records, is that He is not in a hurry. God seems to move in slow, measured time. For example, consider how long it took from God’s promise to Abraham to the birth of Isaac, or the time from Samuel’s anointing of David until David finally ascended the throne of Israel. In the New Testament it was about 40 years after Jesus’ crucifixion that his prophesy concerning the temple (Matt 24:1-2) finally came to pass. The agent was the Roman General Titus, who in 70 A.D. destroyed Herod’s greatest accomplishment. In a similar vein, Paul was converted about 34 A.D. but it was not until 47 A.D. that he went on his first missionary journey. God moves in measured steps, both in our lives and in the larger events of history, or to put it in the terminology of First Corinthians, He does things in decency and in order.
This dichotomy between God and myself creates an immediate tension. God moves slowly and deliberately while I am impatient and insistent, wanting everything yesterday. Sometimes it feels that in my hurry for some future event to arrive that suddenly a section of my life rushed by without notice and I feel like I lost a significant portion of my time here on earth, solely to impatience. Do you find yourself in the same predicament or is it a malady mostly belonging to those who like myself live the connected life, whose daily rituals are bound up in the instant Internet and its promise of immediacy?
I know that this inveterate impatience hurts personal relationships, which by their very nature take time and patience to grow and mature, as well as to be healed and refreshed. I have begun to wonder what else is being hurt by this growing urgent gestalt permeating all of our lives. I really do need to get away from this computer, but first I should check my email. There may be something important waiting…
Note: This post is part of Christian Carnival XXIV which is posted at Parableman. There are 20 entries this week. Check them out.
Jollyblogger posted about this same subject on the same day.
I guess great minds think alike! 😉 Jollybogger approached this subject using another image – cathredral thinking that requires long term vision. It would appear that there is a general social undercurrent recognizing the need for patience and looking to the long, rather than just the short term. From my perspective that is a good development.
William – great stuff. I’ll give you an example from my own life. I left my last church mainly because I felt very pressured to produce results right now. I probably didn’t handle it very well, but there were a couple of defining moments for me.
About a year into my ministry there I had read a book on congregational change and they laid out a nice plan for bringing about change. The plan said it would take 3-5 years minimum to bring about substantial change. I shared that with my elders one time and they looked at me and said “we don’t have 3-5 years to change, we need growth and we need it now.” Another time, shortly after that, one of my elders called me on the phone and said “David, I love you but if we don’t start seeing some serious growth here within the next few months you’re going to start getting a lot of heat from the congregation.” Number one, they were putting it all on me, and number two, they were very impatient. I realized at that point that we were ships passing in the night so I left.
A wise man once said “pastors vastly overestimate what they can accomplish in one or two years, but they vastly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years.
You are right, the tyranny of the immediate destroys the chance for lasting change and growth. Most really significant things have a twenty year life cycle to final completion. Look how long it took from the Ascension to the Council of Jerusalem.
That edition of the Christian Carnival is now at a new URL. Here it is, for posterity’s sake.
Thanks Jeremy, I fixed the link.