How To Kill A Mission

e·go·cen·tric

[ee-goh-sen-trik, eg-oh-]  Show IPA

adjective

1.having or regarding the self or the individual as the center of all things: an egocentric philosophy that ignores social causes.
2.having little or no regard for interests, beliefs, or attitudes other than one’s own; self-centered: an egocentric person; egocentric demands upon the time and patience of others.

eth·no·cen·trism

[eth-noh-sen-triz-uhm]  Show IPA

noun

1.Sociology . the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.
2.a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one’s own.
What to know what prevents a group from achieving success? Simple . . . not following and working consistent with its’ vision and mission. Want to know what kills a mission or vision as fast as anything else? See above.
In a group context, the idea of being on a mission is fundamentally opposed to egocentric behavior and attitudes. It’s really quite simple. If I am determined to think only of myself, then by nature, I can’t think of the mission of the group. The mission, by default, becomes secondary. Now all you need for conflict is to get more than one egocentric person in the same room together.
This is demonstrated with the incarnation of Christ. And it’s really clear when you consider his last few hours on earth. When Christ was in the garden he had the choice of egocentrism or mission. He hung in there, as difficult as it appeared to have been, and chose mission. He was on mission and he was intentional about seeing it through.
Aside from the whole divine and sinless thing, that may be the biggest difference between Jesus and the modern leaders of his church. We can come up with some pithy slogans, slap them on our letterhead and maybe even a sign or two. But when you start talking about actually choosing mission over self, well that’s something altogether different. So instead of approaching issues by asking, “how do we best seek after our mission,” we decide instead to choose personal preference and ask, what do I prefer? What allows me to remain the most comfortable.
This seems to manifest itself most often when we begin talking about what church should look like. Or, how we should do church. So as a result, churches continue with outdated ministries and programs not because they are the best way to accomplish the mission, but because have become comfortable with them and appreciate their own preferences over the cause of the mission. There’s few things that can be as frustrating than dealing with egocentric folks who have placed themselves at the center of the church (or at the center of the purpose of the church).
In other words, church is not for me. I am the church for the glory of Christ. What I want and prefer really should not be on the table for discussion – because if I’m following Christs’ lead (i.e. in the garden), all I am going to want is that my Father’s will be done. Not that I get what I like, prefer or want.
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