Worthwhile

Worthwhile December 6, 2019

We are toward the end aren’t we? Another year wraps up, a decade comes to and end. And we have more than enough opportunities to read, hear, and see what everyone has done, enjoyed, or transformed from over the last years, or ten as it might be.

I should probably get to work on my year fine’ manifesto… maybe later.

Today I want to share two such lists, and a great article about Keller. May your calendar be full of healthy reflection and significant anticipation of what is to come!


Jared Wilson is a great dude. He writes a ton and has strong opinions. All gospel rich. He has shared his top ten books of 2019 (ones he has read this year.) It’s a worthwhile list.

Of the books on his list, I read Virgil Wander earlier this year and immensely enjoyed it and really want to read On the Road With Augustine by Smith.

Check his list here.


In the same vane. Andrew Wilson is an avid (if that is even the right word) reader and he has formed his best books of 2019 list as well. His list of books read is long, maybe enviable.

Of his list, there are a number I want to read, and his top book, Dominion by Tom Holland is on my self ready for a free moment… maybe my first book of 2020.

Read what he read here.


Lastly today, if you haven’t already seen it, Pete Wehner has a new entry in the Atlantic on Tim Keller’s Moral Universe. Wehner interviewed Keller and he shares the formation of his faith and how he processes life and lands on Christian responses to the issues of our day.

Keller is among the most valuable authors and pastors of a generation so all of us should take noticed when he speaks. One quote that is being shared to no end on social media hits the nail on the head when it comes to what professing Christians are consuming:

“most Christians are just nowhere nearly as deeply immersed in the scripture and in theology as they are in their respective social-media bubbles and News Feed bubbles. To be honest, I think the ‘woke’ evangelicals are just much more influenced by MSNBC and liberal Twitter. The conservative Christians are much more influenced by Fox News and their particular loops. And they’re [both] living in those things eight to 10 hours a day. They go to church once a week, and they’re just not immersed in the kind of biblical theological study that would nuance that stuff.” Too often, he believes, there’s no relationship between a proper Christian ethic and the way it translates into political and cultural engagement. It’s not the doctrine that’s at fault, Keller would argue; it’s the way people are taught and interpret it. It’s a failure of imagination and hermeneutics.”

Spot on. I shared in a recent talk on politics to pastors that the people in our pews hear us for 40 minutes a week and consume more tv news than they do Bible by at least 100 times. It is sad but true. So we persevere and teach, get excited about theology, and create culture that looks like that described in Scripture rather than the news.

Read the insightful article here.


Tonight we are celebrating Winter at the kids’ school. Hope you have some refreshment and enjoyment planned for your weekend! Onward friends. Aslan is on the move…

Discipleship

Politics in Exile

Today I am giving a little talk on politics in exile, how Christians engage in such a way that our witness is unhindered. It is not a complete survey of our posture and it won’t make anyone too uncomfortable or gleeful! You can read it here.

Otherwise I thought I would share a few things that have been helpful in forming my thinking that you might find helpful as well.


I point to it a lot but This Cultural Moment is a podcast with valuable, rich content on the underlying realities in our Western culture. Mark Sayers, and Australian pastor and author, has brilliant insights. John Mark Comer interviews him in most of the episodes and each will help you think through how our worldviews are being formed and lived from. Check it out here.


A book that I found extremely helpful recently in shaping the way we engage is from Scott Sauls. Jesus Outside the Line: a way forward for those tired of taking sides. This is centering for Christians and guides us rightly. Check it out.


Justin Taylor highlighted the work of Georgetown professor Paul D. Miller, specifically his white paper for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Council. Faith and Healthy Democracy gives some great clues for civility in public discourse and political engagement. Where I gave three steps in my talk Miller gives individuals a number and churches six key ways to participate without losing our ability to share the gospel. Read it here.


Lastly, I have to go way back to a time I read The Courage of a Conservative by James Watt and The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Wellstone one after the other and thought through them asking what Jesus would have to say.

I choose Watt’s book over the famous Conscience of a Conservative by Goldwater because Watt represented values voters.

The books are very old now and my reading of them was close to 20 years ago. But I think they give some great insight to safer times to be part of the American political landscape and might draw us toward something similar today.


Go forth and be Christian in how you engage!

Uncategorized

What I Miss Most (and Least) About Working in Political & Nonprofit Communications

Today For the Church published a post from Jared Wilson on what he misses about pastoral ministry. It is a good look into some of the realities of being a pastor if you are looking for insights into that… which so few people are unless of course you desire to be a pastor.

But the post also had me thinking about about my previous work and what I miss about it. I am always fascinated that so few pastors have had paid work outside of Christendom and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to earn a paycheck outside of the spiritual industrial complex! I think it gives me healthy perspective as I now pastor people working in all sorts of fields.

It has been nine years since I left DC and the career I was building in communications. These are the things I miss most (and least) about working in political and nonprofit communications.

What I miss about working communications

1. Non-believing Colleagues

My big reason for sending my children to public school is that I don’t want the only sinners they know to be the people in our church. This is also something I miss about working professionally outside of the church. Often times I would be the only or one of a few Christians in the office and in my personal following of Jesus it was helpful to challenge the way I was choosing to live as distinguishable or not.

It was also the helpful to share my faith giving me increased perspective on where people were coming from or how they had formed their thoughts of faith and God. My Jewish boss asking what the big deal was about Jesus (oh how I wish I could go back to this conversation today!) The deputy that asked me to be his “life coach” or the other coworker who accepted my challenge over beers after work to stop running from God and reengage with the church (he is training to be a pastor now).

The church can be a bubble, and even with actively working to invest in “non spiritual” spaces there is something different to daily interaction that vocation provides.

2. Earning My Keep

Now I don’t mean to say that I don’t earn my wages as pastor but that I just am not given the same freedom to talk about how good I am at what I do!

In communications you not only promoted or built brands, you were capable of being your own. Your resume mattered, the work you did was valued and you could get paid really well if you excelled. If you did the work you were rewarded. I never once was asked what I did all day (like I do as a pastor). And only other communications professions thought or expressed they could do my job better than me, not everyone and their uncle…

As a pastor though any whiff of confidence is met with accusations of pride and the types of thing most people do to “get ahead” are oddly viewed with disdain in the church.

I know personally how bad actors have tainted pastoral ministry, and I am not advocating for a lack of accountability or ego-driven pastors. There is just a strange difference that I wonder if we make worse than it needs to be.

3. Being in the Know

This one probably only applies to a small subset of people but there was something about having a security clearance and as one friend put it “knowing what was going on behind the headlines and having an impact on those events.” I remember having a conversation with a good friend and he remarked that I was just repeating my parties’ “talking points” on an issue and I reminded him that I wrote the talking points.

This is probably what makes me nostalgic as I watch shows like Madame Secretary or presidential debates. While a pastor can certainly make a difference in the lives of those he shepherds, there was something about having influence in places to effect change on a different scale.

4. Winging It

I used to think I was quick on my feet and enjoyed the opportunity to wing it in a pinch. I remember a key conversation with a new boss who was prone to make slip ups where I told him to say what he felt like he needed to say and I would clean it up.

Now as a pastor I am careful and prefer precision. People needle me about preaching from a manuscript but if what I say is shaping the way people think of Jesus and Scripture I want to be precise. With a reporter from the Times or a schedule-crunched event I preferred to wing it and it usually worked to my advantage.

What I don’t miss about working in communications

1. Crisis Mode

Maybe this was a D.C. thing but often it was the default mentality in most teams I was a part of. Everything was the biggest deal. Even the smallest concern warranted defcon 1. It was silly.

Personally I threw off the shackle of the crisis mode after a detail to Iraq. It gave me keen perspective on the importance of getting a story out or catching up on the latest press clippings.

Pastoral ministry has its share of crisis but it is not the normal posture and I am okay with that.

2. The Temporary Reality of It

Even the greatest of success was momentary. While working with agencies that actively save lives there was a sense that there had to be something deeper, more meaningful, eternal in nature. This is what I get to wage into every day. Tackling life, impending death, and how to thrive as people that follow Jesus through it all.

Pastoral ministry plays in the eternally significant and we can make an eternal impact and I think that is good.


I am sure I could come up with more, but this I know for sure, I love being a pastor. It is an honor and weighty responsibility to open Scripture and care for people through all of life.