Be Careful! Try Hard!
If you’ve been here a while, you know I’m not a fan of rules.
Rules are great for games. Basketball, monopoly, and dominoes are defined by rules that tell players how to keep score, what actions are permitted, and who wins. No rules – no game.
But, life is not a game.
Jesus wasn’t about rules. He never produced specific Do’s And Don’t’s to govern and constrain behavior. His followers make lots of those lists, but Jesus mostly tore them up and told people to live in freedom.
In life, I want very much to believe everyone can just be adults and things will be okay. I want to believe if we’re more careful, if we try harder, if we love God, ourselves, and others, it’ll all be fine.
Cycling in a group taught me it doesn’t work like that. Riding in close proximity, even the most skilled riders will have all sorts of problems unless they agree to a basic system. Being really careful, paying attention, being a good guy, it just doesn’t matter. If everyone in the group can’t count on everyone else doing things a certain way, eventually there’s gonna be a crash.
We need systems – carefully designed, high-quality, resilient, constantly refined systems, to accomplish important tasks as we follow the dream. It’s not enough to say, “Be servant leaders,” and then criticize when they get it wrong. We need systems, checklists, and processes to help them, to show what “servant leader” looks like in this particular instance. And we need to invite them to improve the process.
One caution: any rule, once established, can easily become an end in itself. If the only reason we do it this way is “because that’s our system,” it’s time to re-evaluate.
Following a dream is complex and hard, with lots of moving parts. Thoughtful, resilient systems help a lot when “try hard,” “be careful,” and “have a servant’s heart” aren’t enough.
Let’s just keep our priorities straight. We’re following Jesus. We’re following a dream.
We’re not following the rules.