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Blessed Are The Peacemakers
The biblical concept of peace is hardly touched when defined simply as the absence of external conflict or war, or the simple presence of inner tranquility. The operative word in Hebrew is shalom, which traces its roots to several Semitic languages. At its core, shalom designates a state of wholeness, harmony, and completeness—it points to the way things ought to be.
The prophets used shalom to convey the blessings for God’s people associated with the coming of the Messiah. Grounded in the presence of justice and order, conditions required for human flourishing, biblical peace is comprehensive welfare extending in every direction. Following the prophets, Thomas Aquinas understood that peace cannot be present where there is no justice (Is. 5:9). Peace, then, is not a virtue, per se; it is the fruit of virtue (Is. 48:18).
The Septuagint—the Greek translation of the Bible—translates shalom as irene. One Dominical mandate for Christ followers, therefore, is to be irenic—to be aimed at peace. Christians are called to be peacemakers.
Andrew Fulford, in his excellent essay in this issue, notes the pacifist preference for the red-letter bits of scripture including, above all else, the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5). Pacifists will probably agree that of all the Beatitudes of Jesus, the call to be peacemakers has a unique muscularity. Whereas the others point to an attitude to be cultivated, the call to be peacemakers demands a particularly concrete action. But here is where agreement ends.
Center-Out Leadership: A New Framework For the Church
In a consumer culture, it’s hard to move into investing authority, because church leaders are expected to provide for the people they lead. These provisions are usually commodified: religious goods and services for the people to consume.
To get these religious goods and services to the “customers” in an efficient way, leaders must consolidate authority. And since authority is a limited resource, consolidating it increases the leader’s value and ensures the leader’s security.
But that’s how the kings of the Gentiles do things… and Jesus said, “You are not to be like that.”
So we learn Center-out leadership from Jesus: investing power instead of consolidating or abdicating.
Center-out leadership isn’t giving hungry people fish… nor is it teaching hungry people to fish. It’s training hungry people to train other hungry people to fish!
We invest our authority in a way that multiplies leaders and people who can bear Christ’s authority (Matt 25:14-30). Center-out leadership means we stand in the center, inviting others to be with us so we can invest in them so that they can invite others into the center for investment.
It’s focused on a plurality of leaders (not just one) who are going out to bring in more leaders. It’s a subversion of our consumer culture: spirituality isn’t goods to consume, it’s a life to participate in and pass on.
And I will make you fishers of people…
Center-out leadership is not about managing outcomes, but making people. It’s development of people, not just delivery on agendas.
Jesus seemed particularly unconcerned with the agendas and outcomes that others thought should be important to him (John 6:14-15; 7:1-10). He doesn’t go after the best and the brightest, and he will often make his group smaller when he discerns that there are competing agendas happening close to him (John 6:60-66; Luke 9:57-62) or when he knows people won’t understand what he’s doing and he doesn’t need unhelpful attention (Mark 5:37-43).
Jesus wants to lead others, not impress them. He’s concerned with empowering people, not controlling them.
2) People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.
3) Listening from the heart is a game changer.
4) Believing the best in people usually brings out the best of people.
5) Hurting people hurt people.
6) Admit wrongs and forgive quickly.
7) Always give more than you take.
8) Add value to people.
9) You can never encourage anyone too much.
10) Trust is the lifeblood of all relationships.
Necessary Endings (book review)
In this book, Necessary Endings, the premise is endings are a normal part of life. Endings matter and are present in all areas of our lives. Learning to recognize endings is critical. In our personal lives, relationships change and sometimes need to come to an end, personal dreams and aspirations come to an ending, and as life progress through its stages needs to come to an end, death. Endings are a necessity for life to thrive in areas of existence. So, Cloud writes what is needed is to learn the ability to do endings well. Without this ability, we flounder and fail to reach our goals and dreams or recognize when it is time to them pay forward to the next generation to pick up and carry on.
Cloud, I have found, likes gardening. It is evident in the metaphors used to express his thoughts in order to connect us, as the reader, to the deeper meanings he projects. For a rose to grow to fulfill its full capability, entering into its full beauty, the gardener must know how to care properly for it, pruning the rosebush intentionally. Now, if the Gardner is doing the work correctly by trimming the rosebush will include, healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones, sick branches that are not going to get well, dead branches taking up space that healthy ones need to thrive. I was reminded of Jesus sharing the parable of the vine and the branches.
Like rosebushes, our lives also need the same three types of pruning to be healthy. Pruning is the central theme of Necessary Endings: removing whatever it is in our personal life whose reach is unwanted, redundant, damaging, inflicting unnecessary drain on our souls. The recognition we are limited is a reality to be realized and respected. Life requires our resources, our time, money, energy, talents, but those things that are not working to achieve the vision or passion of our lives should be pruned according to Cloud.