As the world’s number one speaker on the subject of humility, I’d like to draw your attention to a book in which I am a recurring character.
Earl Creps has just written Off-Road Disciplines, a book for church leaders trying to navigate all the change our culture keeps throwing at us.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I am quoted many times throughout the book. If you have never read yourself quoted in a book before, let me assure that it can be disconcerting.
There’s no way I can be objective about this book. It’s written by a friend and almost all the recurring characters are friends.
So I will simply say that I enjoyed it and I think I would have enjoyed it whether or not it was by a friend. It’s just filled with fascinating little snippets.
The History Channel recently offered me part of the answer in a documentary about the researchers who devote their lives to discovering Atlantis. These passionate and sincere people consider themselves consummate professionals in their field. They employ expensive, high-tech equipment and sacrifice the respect of mainstream science to live on the perpetual verge of one of the greatest discoveries of all time. Spurred on by an ancient text (Plato, in this case), they spend years surveying vast stretches of ocean in a quest to assemble clues to cataclysmic events in the distant past. The disdain of their scientific peers only increases their fervor by making these faithful into professional martyrs. Sometime before the last commercial on the TV program, I grasped the parallel to the post-Christian experience of the Church: ancient texts, outrageous theories, huge expense, persecution complex, and a passionate devotion to things that matter only to insiders. (page 21)
I have to believe I would find that gripping no matter who wrote it. Or consider this simple evidence that demonstrates a truth I have long believed but been unable to show data for:
…in a survey of magazine indices I found that the first references to postmodernism in Christian periodicals did not appear until four to thirteen years after the first references are indexed in secular journals.
That’s the most concrete, data-based illustration I’ve ever seen of the culture lag in which the church is trapped.
Plus he coins two phrases that I love: “overchurched underachiever” (so busy with church stuff they have no time for real stuff) and “orthodoxy creep” (a tendency to doctrinalize every opinion).
Anyway, on to the important stuff: me.
My first appearance in the book is on page 45:
After hearing a talk supported by PowerPoint, Glen (half my age) said politely, “I thought you had a degree in communication.”
Ouch. The words hurt Earl the first time and me the second.
I am featured again five pages later: “Glen helps me with technology and the Internet.”
My best role, however, comes in the chapter on humility.
A [ministerial] life representing an attitude of “I know!” “You’re wrong!” and “You need me!” serves as what my friend Glen calls a “blocker,” standing in the way of the spiritually hungry rather than motivating them to investigate Jesus further. (page 83)
At last, I am portrayed as the humble sage I know and love.
So I’ll stop quoting from the book before I paint myself in an unflattering light again. 😉