A while ago I wrote post of true (and lip-service) collaboration. I was reflecting on this again a few months ago when a community networking event I was participating in became a brag-fest for the different groups around the table:
“Let me tell you about all the good things MY group is doing”
It seemed to me that this group had become little more than a opportunity to trump each others good work and over-sell ones own good work and it all made me feel a little nauseated.
Then earlier this week, I was reflecting on this yet again, as I sat with Pastors (and a number of congregates) representing two large Baptist Churches in Adelaide. Despite no doubt having the resources to do this work alone these two congregations had decided to develop a program together (initially also involving a Salvation Army congregation). Better still as we talked about how this program might be refined and improved to better meet its objectives one of the Pastors stated very clearly:
“Joanna, we don’t want this project to be about making US feel good. In fact we don’t really care who gets the credit here!”
… and what is stranger is that I got the notion that he actually meant it!
So my question for today is this:
If this good work that we do is not about making us feel good; if this is not about being seen doing good (as in Matthew 6:1-4)… then can we let go of the credit? Can we (alongside my colleague) say “this isn’t about feeling good, and it doesn’t matter who gets the credit” … and mean it? Because if we can, then I believe we will stand in such contrast to the landscape around us and provide such an example of true humility; that we could change the shape of that landscape irreparably.
As Churches we are not about securing funding and growing a business; therefore we do not need to develop reputation and recognition. We are about building a kingdom, not a brand. So while it goes against our basic instincts (and perhaps even against some Church growth models) there is something utterly Christ-like in the notion of going about our work without drawing attention to it or minding where the credit falls (Mark 5:43, 9:30). This is the spirit of true collaborative work.
Please feel free to contribute your thoughts in the comment box below.