Welcome back to BenjaminConrad.Com
You’re probably thinking, “Welcome back yourself. Where’ve you been the last few months?”
A just question.
Beginning with my time in Connecticut in November with Peter Rollins and pals, my travel schedule turned into my crazy holiday schedule, turned back into a travel schedule for some R&R in the mountains of NC, and then Christianity 21 last week in Denver. I wrote a brilliant post on the things I took away and left behind at C21… but then I broke my computer and delete it. So imagine how great a post it would’ve been.
Rather than beginning 2014 with resolutions, with a committment to blogging weekly, twice or thrice weekly (regularly) as is highly recommended by successful bloggers. I figured I’d begin with failure, with humility, with the places I am unresolved.
Let’s start here.
1) HUMILITY :: I already failed to blog the first two weeks of 2014 and I’m ok. I don’t have enough of a following to monitor blog traffic or personal platform stats, and I’m ok with that. Also, this frees me from living up to the crushing self-expectation of blogging every week. I already have missed two weeks, so my perfect year is a wash, which means I can be a person who blogs rather than a lifeless blog machine. This is the easy one.
2) HUMILITY :: I stopped blogging for almost three months and the world turned, people survived, I managed to enjoy my family & work, even faith continued unimpeded by my lack of contribution. I do think my voice is important. I do think I have a platform and some unique ideas. But let’s keep it all in perspective huh? In three months I’ve had some of the most profound conversations, been asked the deepest, most vulnerable questions, helped and held people in grief, loved and celebrated with people in joy, spoken some of the most important words of my life in sermons and articles… and not once has anyone said, “We’re really missing the blog. Get back on that.” So, as important is this platform may be, my primary platform is place, time, conversations with people in my context. This platform may grow, my voice may reach more people, but this reality humbles and reminds me where my most valuable voice originates… in my neighborhood.
3) HUMILITY :: Last Sunday I preached what was one of the most powerful and important sermons yet in the life of our young congregation (Listen here). Plus, we had the largest crowd we’ve had since we began last Feb. Plus we had the largest crowd of live-stream viewers joining us on-line. I mean, seriously, I was on. The content was dialed in, my energy was dead on, it was funny, well structured, powerful and challenging! And I know because people told me, complimented me, reminded me of specific parts they liked best. At which point you’re thinking.
Wait, isn’t this a post about HUMILITY?
It is. Here’s where it gets funny for you and painful for me. As I was working the room afterward, being congratulated and self-congratulating on a job well done, I thought to myself, “We’re really doing it!”. Ok, ok. “I’m really doing it. Creating something important, saying something incredibly unique and needed, progressive and transforming in this otherwise traditional, religious small town.”
Then one of my long-time friends who I love and respect came up and shook my hand,
Another one for the trophy bag, right? Pile that accolade atop the numerous others. But he kept going.
“This is so surreal. I went with my family this morning to “Baby boomer, conservative, evangelical modern worship band” Church (The names shall remain anonymous to protect the innocent), and it was a different text, but basically the same message…
THE SAME MESSAGE!!!?????
THE SAME MESSAGE!!!?????
How could my unique voice, unique style, my one of a kind boundary pushing, progressive leaning, edgy communicating message be replicated by anyone other than…..
From time to time we need to be reminded that we are not God, nor are we the only or even favored voices, vessels or vehicles for grace and love to make their way into the world. Part of my progressive platform is the proclamation that God is mystery, and is to be found in the people and places we least expect to find God (The unspoken implication is “Not like those exclusive conservative evangelicals who think they have a monopoly on God). One of the most uncomfortable, recurring events of humility in my life is the reminder that God is to be found in the people and places we least expect… including in the people and places who don’t believe that.
From time to time I need to be reminded that I am one voice among many, but that many voices are needed. In the same way that my unique voice is needed to speak to my specific context – people who aren’t into church or religion, there is a unique voice needed to reach the people in those other churches – even the people who are into church and religion. Cuz hey, God is for everyone right?
I hope you are reminded often of how important your voice is, how important you are, but that this realization is tempered with an uncomfortable humility that reminds you of your place in the larger collection of voices. I hope you take your voice seriously, take yourself seriously, but not too seriously.
Happy 2014 everyone. Here’s to another great year of life, faith, self-reflection and uncomfortable self-awareness in the world of God’s dreams
By Benjamin Conrad Collins