I’ve not been reading much of Calvin Miller’s Letters to a Young Pastor lately. That’s probably because, if you are a book in my house, it is very easy to get lost!
That said, those of you who have followed me for many months will be pleased to know that there is an update in the book saga. We bought some new shelving from Argos (yes, we are so classy and tasteful in this house!) so most of the books have migrated from the lounge floor to some rather elegant, albeit cheap, units. That should solve the problem for a little while, at least. Getting rid of some of the review copies I don’t want to keep will probably also help.
But in the book tidying process, Miller’s writing has reappeared on my coffee table. I’m still flicking through it rather than reading from one cover to the other, a bad habit which I have often put down to my own laziness. In recent days though, it has occurred to me that I can probably ascribe it to the part of my life that involves reading too many theological tomes: I almost never read these from one cover to the other (why else do you think they have an index?!). Given that, I have almost convinced myself that my laziness with all other books is just not my fault!
And so, true to form, here is an excerpt from somewhere in the middle of the Letters, a portion entitled ‘Breaking Your Bondage to the Success Syndrome’:
one day when I was speaking at a church-growth conference, I actually found myself saying, “The Holy Spirit don’t sponsor no copycats. He never leads any two pastors to do things in exactly the same way. Be as individual as your fingerprint. If God intends for you to be on this program next year, your really big chance at it is to be as unique as you can be. Throw away all your manuals that you just bought from the book tables outside the auditorium, and spend a little time with Jesus.”
I love how Miller says it. No beating around the bush.
As he notes a few sentences later, he was not invited back to this church growth conference the following year.
But then, as he continues,
I don’t need to be in power.
I don’t need to be the best.
I can live without the prefix mega.
I am a metaphysician who has met the physician.
I can heal.
I can splint.
And I can’t afford the next megachurch conference.
So I’m sticking close to home and wrapping bandages for the job at hand.
What about you and me? Can we say that? Church leader or leader of a family, academic leader or marketplace leader, can we find our identity in not needing to be the biggest or the best but rather in being one who has spent time with Jesus?