These are a round-up of some things that have got me thinking this week.
There was a lot of excitement about how much some of the big charities pay their Chief Executives and it got me thinking a lot not so much about the absolute levels of pay but the values which guide us in these decisions. I considered a number of approaches and posed the question ‘How would you decide?’ You can catch up here.
One of the interesting things about the debate was the absolute confusion there is about the professionalisation of charities. We seem to yearn for the age when rich people did nice things for poor people in their spare time as well intentioned amateurs. At the same time we hold charities to a (correctly) high standard for efficiency and effectiveness as they deliver a complex range of activities, and that means professionalism. Putting aside the obvious political agenda of some of the critics there is some serious thinking to do here. Do we want well run professional charities or amateur groups of kind hearted people? As I was thinking about these things I came across this amazing infographic that highlights some of the double thinking that we do about charity.
I was also challenged by Bonhoeffer’s approach to political engagement and the relationship between church and state. I write about it here. This got a big response. Interestingly some people interpreted it as saying that churches should concentrate on preaching rather than politics. This is a classic example of people reading their own prejudices into articles! Bonhoeffer’s challenge is to be both less political and more political. Less, in the sense of not giving the state and the political system ‘god-like’ status in delivering good and evil. More, in the sense of churches being parables and signs of the new political order of God’s coming kingdom. We are to be a witness of the new and a testimony to the contradictions of the old. Much harder than just shouting slogans or opting out.
I was also really challenged and saddened by this article on gender. we have such a long way to go. It was especially poignant for me as I spent some time preparing a seminar on gender equality and injustice for this years Momentum festival. God seems to be putting the issues of violence against women and gender relations on the agenda of both church and world. One of the great encouragements from this last weeks Soul Survivor conference was meeting young people who are energised about this issue. There was one 15 year old who asked me how she could start now making a difference. She had researched refuge centres and charities and read around the issue. She explained how she just felt called by God to this area of ministry. She had steel in her soul and determination in her spirit. God is raising an army.
And I have two favourite quotes this week! The first from Robbie Dawkins was in a workshop at Soul Survivor. He had been teaching on praying for healing and said:
God can use a failure but he cannot use a quitter
I found these very challenging words and think they apply not just to prayer for healing but to all our endeavours.
The second quote backs it up.
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”