Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 6, 2009

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)



As I watched two of my older sons play basketball last night, my attention turned to their coach.

He is among the best at getting the most out of his players.

That was especially apparent last night as he coached against one of those private schools in a public school league that recruit so shamelessly and get away with it.

Admittedly, I admire their passionate devotion to academic and athletic excellence.

I just don't think it's right for them to play in a public school league where they don't have to follow the same rules as everybody else.

Of course, being a Yankees fan, it's like throwing stones from a glass house.

We're used to buying the best players from other towns.

Anyway, I was impressed by my sons' coach whose players are slower and smaller than that team with a bench that could start for most teams in the league yet hung with 'em until, well, uh, you know how it goes...

If the parochial coach in a public league wins Coach of the Year for doing what he should do with what he gets...

It's like my Yankees-hating dad always says when I boast about the Yankees: "They should win! They buy all of the best players!"

An authentic Coach of the Year is a coach who does the best with the least when compared to other coaches sporting superior talent and numbers.

The wins/losses don't always compute the character/competence of a coach.

Anybody who really knows anything about sports knows that; and, parenthetically, that's why Girardi wasn't picked as the AL Coach of the Year even after leading the Yankees to another sweeping success in the World Series.

My sons' coach adjusts to the talent and numbers that he gets without bending/twisting/ignoring the rules.

That's why my sons' coach was the real winner last night despite the score.



I have a farmer/friend in a nursing home.

I try to visit him at least once a week; but being the pastor of a high maintenance congregation and called so often to visit folks of other churches in the hospital or provide care for folks with no connection to any church in the region or...

Anyway, I try...

Recently, as harvest moved to tundra in the upper reaches of Illinois, I asked him how he approached a vocation so dependent upon weather patterns that are so unpredictable that folks who are paid big bucks to predict 'em are often...

He said with a smile, "You go with what you get."

My sons' coach understands that.


My forever pastor who went home to Jesus many years ago warned/counseled as I prepared for ordination: "You'll know if you're really called to a church in six months; and then it will take a few years before you know the movers and shakers, pillars, players, pretenders, and all the rest."


It was his way of saying, "You go with what you get."

And if you're called to 'em, you adjust to get His best out of 'em.

That's why in addition to considering a pastoral vocation akin to being a cheerleader or referee, I've also realized it's like being a coach.

Again, you go with what you get.


Two failures of mine come to mind.

First, I announced my determination to take Parkesburg, Pennsylvania's First Presbyterian Church from under 300 to over 3000 not long after being called to it in 3/77.


There were nine strong churches in that town of 2900.

Maybe that's why a seasoned elder said this after I outlined "my" plans for growth at my first ever meeting as moderator/pastor of a church: "If you think we're doing any of that, you're crazy."

Second, after being ordained for over two decades, which means I should have known better, I enabled an elder who had stopped worshiping regularly because he didn't like my predecessor but was put on the search committee that picked me so that he'd become active again (aka in that church as financially viable) return to the session - top church board in a Presbyterian kinda church - because, as I told the nominating committee, he had done such a great job on the search committee.


Well, it wasn't long before he drew comparisons between my predecessor et moi and I discovered anyone who is a malcontent with most other pastors becomes a malcontent with just about any pastor; or as I warn people regardless of their vocation, "If a person is always talking pejoratively about other people when she/he is talking to you, you can bet the farm on her/him talking pejoratively about you when talking to other people."

I was crazy in the first instance; and learned you can't build big churches in small towns that are already satisfied with the ecclesiastical culture.

I was naive in the second instance; and learned people who don't worship regularly for any reason should never be enabled to do anything related to leadership because it's more about them than Him (scroll down to the 10/29/09 edition for who should be nominated for any kind of leadership in the church) and it's gonna cause problems sooner than later.

It's like the pastor who confronted me during one of my regular personal failures: "You're a man of prayer. I'm sure you can work it out with Him."

Frankly, I wasn't a man of prayer when confronted; and, ergo, couldn't work it out with Him.

Knowing "God inhabits the praises of His people," why would any pastor or nominating committee enable "leadership" for someone who ain't worshiping with the family of faith; knowing they may be inhabited by...?

Hearts are aligned with God during worship.

Conversely, hearts are aligned with something/someone else apart from worship.



Or as my farmer/friend says, "You go with what you get."



Getting back to the last section of the last KD on 12/3 (scroll down), I forgot to mention the antecedent to my big decision: "I'm never going to ask anyone else ever again to expand their wineskin to accommodate mine because part of agape is sacrificing my lust for others to accommodate me."

One of my prayer partners was a little miffed about folks not adjusting their calendars to, uh, adjust to new opportunities which resonated with me because I was a little miffed about folks not adjusting their calendars to, uh, adjust to new opportunities.

He said, "I get a little tired of people who expect me to be sensitive to their sensitivities but are never sensitive to my sensitivities."

Parenthetically, it reminded me of the constant insensitivities of the left and right to each other in church/politics (often indistinguishable) as they always banter and moan about each other not being sensitive to their sensitivities; which is true because they aren't sensitive to the sensitivities of each other in a navel-gazing kinda way.

Anyway, just about simultaneously, we had one of those apocalyptic moments when His light shines on the subject; and we realized agape is sensitive to the sensitivities of others but does not expect or need others to be sensitive to their sensitivities.

Mutual sensitivity to sensitivities only occurs when everybody's on the same page of agape.

Or something like that.

So in the meantime, you go with what you get.

My sons' basketball coach understands that.

I'm still trying.


Blessings and Love!

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