Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead (1901-1978), US anthropologist
I have always been drawn to communities. From a very young age, I had a small sense of tribalism. We were raised in a small town in South Carolina among family members, dear friends who were an extension of our family, mentors, teachers, coaches, and other community leaders. Those who nurtured my beginnings understood and embodied the African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child.
But somewhere along the lines, children grow up. Those children began to embody or take on the values of their peers and other messengers or impostors around them. Impostors want us to believe that we can do it all on our own, leave others behind, and pull ourselves up by our own boot straps. Indeed, this is the American way. It is the way of pride and a way that lacks grace. But God has called us as Christian leaders to live a gospel and others-centered way. This is the way of the cross, the way of laying down our lives for the sake of others, and the way that considers the needs of the collective whole—the community—above our own self-centered way.
I reason I have a weekly “Natasha’s Study” column on this blog is because I lead and I write. It is believed that those who lead and write well, also read often. Over the past 3 1/2 years of attending seminary, I have read many books about theology and leadership. While I love both of those topics, I also have other interests which has lead me to accumulate quite a large stack of unread books. When I graduated in May 2014, I got into this bad habit of starting new books on a whim: “You know I really want to read that,” or “I have been waiting to read that book for a while.” Since I have accumulated so many great books, I was frequently starting and not finishing many of them.
As the year drew to a close, I committed to finishing the books I had already started and only intentionally beginning new ones. My intentional monthly reading plan for 2015 falls into five categories:
I love engaging my daughter in conversation. She is smart, witty, and asks lots of questions. Sometimes the questions fly out of nowhere, and we catch each other off guard. Sometimes this causes us to laugh out loud, and at other times it causes us to think.
We were riding in the car not too long ago when I ask her, “How do you know that you can trust mommy and daddy?” Maybe I was trying to get into a deep theological conversation, or maybe I was just curious. She said that she trusts her daddy because he works really hard to do everything that he can to support her, and he makes it all look so easy like spreading butter on a piece of bread. To that response, I laughed out loud!
Then she said of me, “You like telling other people about Jesus, you have written a book about Him, and I think that is very brave.” I paused to think. “Wow!” Humbling…