Monday, April 8, 2013
He was known as “The Boz”. His was one of the stories, that for whatever reason, grabbed my attention at the time. I’m not a sports junkie but on occasion I become intrigued with a particular athlete. I did the same with LeBron James when he was drafted into the NBA out of High School. Brian Bosworth had played under Barry Switzer at Oklahoma before being drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. He was the rare athlete to not enlist an agent to represent him in negotiating a contract for $10 million. As a linebacker he was ferocious with only two play settings: off and full throttle. The coach in Seattle would have to reprimand him for playing too aggressively in practice, as though it were game day in a Super Bowl. Apparently, he didn’t learn. He lasted only two years, having surgery on both dislocated shoulders, the product of his aggressive playing style.
I recently had lunch with a friend and church planting protégé, Stan. He has not only done well as a planter but has been part of an assessing process for other planters. Unaware to most church people, those who are actually called to plant are a rare breed. Many dream, some pursue, a few attempt, most fail. Millions of Kingdom dollars every year are invested in misguided dreamers who are smitten with romantic notions of church planting. Assessing planters is an attempt at “weeding out” the ‘wannabe’ from the ‘should be’. Stan observed that his approach to assessing had produced positive results; everyone he had approved was still “in the hunt”. Those kinds of statistical results are impressive. When I inquired as to what the key was, he responded, “I look for the most pigheaded, because if you’re not, you will not survive.”
I confess, I’m pigheaded! That isn’t my preferred terminology. Tenacious. Determined. Committed. Resolute. All synonyms for ‘pigheaded’. While I fully understand the implications and agree with the theory, I am also painfully aware of the dark side. There are certain attributes that are shared by all high profile Bible characters, be it Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel or even Jesus. They accomplished much of what they did because of a unswerving determination. But except for Jesus, that same attribute could be an Achilles’ heel. In our own time two of the most successful church planters on planet Earth learned the hard way: Bill Hybels and Rick Warren. They both planted, drove hard, experienced success and landed in the hospital! It was at the point that they understood a critical issue for enduring success.
Let’s just call it “Bozing”. I so get it! After twenty years of leading a church plant through all of the ups and downs of growth, betrayal, challenges and frustrations; when those around me would shrug their shoulders in resignation, I would “Boz” it. The portrait is simple: lowered head, shoulder engaged, legs driving. My mantra has been “push, pull or get out of the way!” While I am aware that our success has been admired, I am more painfully aware of the need for balance. There is a time to “slay all of the prophets of Baal” and a time to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord”.
I am now convinced that church planting should be less like Ultimate Fighting and more like Brain Surgery. Might does not make right. Work smarter not harder isn’t just good advice for manual labor. The Armor of God doesn’t include a Battering Ram. Slam dunks don’t win basketball games, precision shooting does. When Elijah was beaten down, depressed and dejected, he discovered that God was to be found in a subtle voice, not fireworks. Like the difference between courage and insanity is the difference between success and survival.