Deep Thought, March 2022
DEEP THOUGHT: A new bi-monthly feature in ReCharge
Embrace your brokenness as you live in close proximity to others
By Michael Henderson
Over the summer I read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, an American lawyer who works with people on death row. It is a beautiful and brutal read, full of heart-breaking stories of injustice and prejudice right beside stories of grace and mercy and redemption. The book is powerful, but the podcast interview with Stevenson on the “On Being Podcast” is more accessible (and free).
Something Stevenson repeats is being a human-focused leader. This thread is also a priority for Tasmanian Baptists this year, including at our March Muster.
Being a human-focused leader feels obvious. A leader helps humans. It feels so obvious that we shouldn’t need to think about it. Stevenson, as a lawyer and his work within the justice system, seems geared toward humans. Yet what he found was a justice system that was often set up to deny people their humanity, that lacked compassion and mercy, and ultimately justice.
Are we becoming more like Jesus, full of hope and grace and redemption for all?
Churches, in practice, can end up in a similar position. Our theory is we are human-focused and God-focused. Love God and love your neighbour as yourself. However, what we can end up with are events and programs and Sunday services and an organisation that has lost sight of humans.
Yes, humans are present, just like they are in the justice system, but are they helping humans? Are we becoming more like Jesus, full of hope and grace and redemption for all? Are we carrying that out into our towns and cities? The way many in our culture view the church suggests the answer is no.
WE CAN CHOOSE
Stevenson’s solution: Embrace our broken natures and live in close proximity to people. He believes we have a choice. We can deny our brokenness, deny our humanity, which results in a lack of compassion and mercy. Or, we can embrace our brokenness, our humanness, our shared vulnerability and imperfection, and let it fuel our capacity for compassion and mercy, and how much we rely on Jesus for everything.
And, when we live in close proximity to people, we see people, and it fuels our ability to be human focused leaders. At a distance from people we can lose sight of compassion and mercy and love, and focus more on just getting things done. Because, with a busy life, it is actually very easy as a leader to forget about humans. But the call of Jesus is to live in close proximity to the people in your church, AND in close proximity to those in our community who are currently far from Jesus.
OBVIOUS AND EASY?
Embrace our brokenness, and live in close proximity to others.
It seems obvious and easy. Yet, that is not Stevenson’s story. Nor is it ours. But, with purpose and being intentional, and allowing Jesus to empower us into it, it can be done, and done so that humans actually benefit.
Just Mercy is available at Koorong for $32.99 (plus postage). JUST MERCY is the #1 New York Times bestseller and now a major motion picture, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix a broken system of justice; from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.