Like People, Like Priest

I am a western English speaking Christian worker in Cambodia. I administrate a Christian elementary school. This position is a good fit for me for both general and specific reasons. It is generally a good fit because I like kids (usually), I care about kids being discipled for Christ, and I care about education. It is specifically a good fit for me because, as the administrator, I am able to work from behind the scenes and let much of the forefront decision-making be done by local people. Why is that important to me? Because I want my work to reach and be effective to Cambodians, and that best happens, in my opinion, when Cambodians work with Cambodians. As the old Khmer proverb says: Only the spider can repair its own web.

bbbAnd such is the principle of Like People, Like Priest; people will follow those they can relate to. If you’re an English speaking expat starting up a church in an Asian city with a high population of English speaking expats, don’t be surprised when the people coming to your church are all English speaking expats. And there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are honest with yourself and admit that you are the pastor of an expat church and not the pastor of a Cambodian/Thai/Burmese, or whatever nation you happen to be in, church. If you wanted to be the pastor of a church of nationals, there are some major steps that need to be taken to do that, mastering the language for example, and you might find you are unwilling/unable, for various reasons, to take those steps.

Being honest with yourself about what you are truly capable of doing is the first step to finding the right fit for your life and being an effective participant in the building of Christ’s kingdom. Who can you connect to? Who can connect to you?

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Passive Aggressive Poison

passive aggressive ninja“I don’t worry, if they have a problem with me, they will preach about me!”

That’s what a friend told me when describing the leadership at a bible college he was attending. He had discovered that when and if the leadership was unhappy with what he was doing, rather than confronting him directly, they would come at him indirectly through passive aggressive tactics. And a great way to destroy relationships is to act passive aggressively.

What is passive aggressiveness? It is simply an avoidance of direct confrontation due to cowardliness. If passive aggressiveness takes root in your group it becomes a poison killing the tree. You have to deal with it quickly.

I’ve been guilty of this behaviour myself in the past, but I’ve made a rule to avoid it. It takes time to recognize it in yourself, but gets easier to stop over time.

passive-agressive-infographic1-copy

Are You Projecting?

chickenhateyouI notice in my life that when things are going well, I am working hard, and my conscience is clear, I have no negative thoughts towards others. If other are doing well, I congratulate them, and if others are doing poorly, I try to offer help. But, when things are not so well for me, my attitude to others is opposite. Why is this?

In the opening chapters of the book of Revelation Jesus comes to evaluate seven churches. For most of the churches, He has some good things to say, and some bad things.  They are encouraged for what they are doing right, and are warned to fix what they’re doing wrong.

And this is the healthy way to deal with issues in your own life. Every once and awhile you need Jesus to come and evaluate your life, to tell you what’s good and what’s evil. And though it might hurt some, you need to fix what Jesus says needs fixing. Doing this is the quickest path to a clear conscience and joyful carefree living.

The unhealthy way to deal with your issues is to compare yourself to others and point out all their faults in order to make yourself feel better about your own faults. In the short term this way is easier. I can always find someone worse off than me and quickly justify my own actions in relation to theirs. “I thought I was bad, but look at that guy.” This is projection — calling out and hating in others what’s really going on in you.

Whenever I encounter someone complaining about another without offering any kind of solutions, over and over, month after month, year after year, I know that person is projecting. They are unwilling to deal with an issue in their own life and so they’ve found someone worse than themself to project onto, thus making themself feel better. “I don’t have to deal with my issues until that other guy, worse than me, deals with his issues.” In the long term, projection will only lead to emptiness, bitterness, and foolishness.

Let Jesus come and evaluate your life. And even though it may be difficult, change what He says needs changing. Trust that He has your best in mind. Ask Him for help because He won’t let you down.

Jordan Peterson on Leadership

narrative“Well here’s what’s in it for me, and here’s what’s in it for you. And here’s why the two of us together can further the enterprise and further what’s in it for you and further what’s in it for me.”

A good leader has a purpose great enough to include others besides himself. And in order to do that, he will find people who will benefit in their own personal lives from that larger purpose.

Peterson explains…..

12 Rules for Life (Book Review)

jordon-peterson-bookCanadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson has gained quite a bit of fame in recent years through his controversial (but not really controversial) stance on some social issues. Many people have been listening to what he has to say and are finding answers to the tough questions about life which they’ve been unable to find from, what should be, the normal sources for such conundrums. All of that has compelled him to write this book: 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

This book is kind of like a Christian book written by a non-Christian for Christians and non-Christians. There’s really two types of Christians: 1) The born-again and goes to church every Sunday type; 2) The merely product of western civilization type.

A brief story explaining what I mean by the second type (which I heard someone tell once, but can’t remember when or where)….

A reporter travelled to a middle eastern country for a story. Going through passport control, he noticed the border officer stamp his passport “Christian.” He then said to the officer, “Why did you stamp ‘Christian’? I’m an atheist, not a Christian.” The border officer ignored his complaint and waved him through.

Later, at his hotel, he observed some boys outside the building playing a somewhat gruesome game: They were hitting newly born puppies with a baseball bat, sending them flying against the hotel wall. That in itself is horrifying enough, but what really bothered the reporter is that the mothers of the boys were all sitting around watching and doing nothing, enjoying their day, laughing, and conversing together. The reporter then thought, “Ah, maybe I am a Christian after all.”

The point of the story is that if you are western, your morality is Christian. Whether you like it or not, you are heavily influenced by Christianity.

Jordan Peterson is a type two Christian. His book is full of Biblical quotes. Even though he might not even believe in the God of the Bible, he knows that the values of western Christianity are what shaped the best culture in known world history. He knows that if Christian values are forgotten and abandoned, it will lead to chaos. Indeed, this is already happening.

Peterson has dedicated much of his life to studying totalitarian cultures (the ones in which millions are murdered by their own governments), and he has had many patients in his practice whose lives are a “bloody mess,” as he would put it. Using his studies, his own experience as a psychologist, and his Christian influenced wisdom, he’s put together a fine book designed to help people get their own lives in order.

The 12 Rules are:

Rule 1 Stand up straight with your shoulders back.

Rule 2 Treat yourself like you would someone you are responsible for helping.

Rule 3 Make friends with people who want the best for you.

Rule 4 Compare yourself with who you were yesterday, not with who someone else is today.

Rule 5 Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.

Rule 6 Set your house in perfect order before you criticise the world.

Rule 7 Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient).

Rule 8 Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie.

Rule 9 Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t.

Rule 10 Be precise in your speech.

Rule 11 Do not bother children when they are skate-boarding.

Rule 12 Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street.

This is a dense book with a lot of information. I imagine the number one complaint by readers is that it is too long, and overly explanatory. But, if I were to give a one or two sentence long explanation of each Rule (which is far from the thorough conclusions put forth by Peterson), it would go like this…

Rule 1: Don’t be passive. Stand up for what you believe in — literally. Stand up straight. It has more effects than you realize.
Rule 2: Take care of yourself as though you were someone you deeply love and care about. Of course! But, many of us are quite negligent in self care.
Rule 3: Don’t hang around with losers, or you will become one too.
Rule 4: We’re all on different paths — some are further along than you, some are behind. Comparing yourself to them will either discourage you, or make you proud.
Rule 5: Of course you love your child, but do you like your child? Do others like your child? Will your child grow to be a likeable adult?
Rule 6: If the world around you is in a chaotic mess, start with the small space directly around you, put that in order and move out from there.
Rule 7: Think long-term.
Rule 8: You might not be able to know the truth about everything, but at least you can know what’s not true. So, don’t lie.
Rule 9: You can learn something from anybody.
Rule 10: Words have power. Use them carefully.
Rule 11: Kids need to gain confidence when they’re young so they can grow to be strong adults. That means doing dangerous things. Leave them alone.
Rule 12: Life is suffering. Take time to enjoy all the small pleasures when you can.

I give the book 4/5 stars, and I recommend you pick it up.

Related articles:
Jordan Peterson on Channel Four News
What are the Most Valuable Things to Know?

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