From the Annual Conference edition of The Call (6/17)
I have a book on my desk entitled, “Leading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead.” I am drawn most to the forward written by Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become U.S. secretary of state.
Albright writes about Sept. 11, 2001, and the the moving story of Tom Burnett and United Flight 93. Burnett called his wife from the hijacked plane, realizing by then that two other planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. “I know we’re going to die,” he said, “but some of us are going to do something about it.” They did, and many other lives were saved.
Albright makes this observation:
Since that awful morning, the memory of their heroism has inspired us. It should also instruct us. The reason is that when you think about it, “I know we’re going to die,” is a wholly unremarkable statement. Each of us could on any day say the same. It is Burnett’s next words that were both matter-of-fact and electrifying.“Some of us are going to do something about it.”
The Apostle Paul conveys the same fundamental challenge in Ephesians 4:1: I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.
Will we 21st century Christians walk worthy? Will we do something with the gifts, skills, abilities, and resources that God gives us? It is not our outward circumstances that determine our faithfulness and fruitfulness, but what resides on the inside. Will we be the people of God, or will we – like most of society – fall prey to the “me first” culture?
I challenge each of our clergy to lead a life empowered by the spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, fasting, tithing, fellowship with like-minded colleagues, and a commitment to be learning disciples. We must strengthen our inner spirit so that we may be equipped to lead our congregations in transforming communities.
I challenge all of our laity to leave behind childish behaviors in a quest for power, position, or other selfish goals, and instead seek God’s vision for living out their faith.
The world needs us to be at our best! We are only at our best as we feed upon the things that are right and true and good – which may be discovered in the strength of a relationship with Christ. Let this be the first of all our remaining years, where we concentrate on pleasing God and working for what’s best for the whole.