Go for the Gold!

Since we don’t have cable TV in our home, our family tries to watch the Olympic Games at other people’s homes. Much of the world is focused this month on London as these outstanding athletes “go for the gold.”
Talent alone did not get the winners to the Olympics. Natural gifts, raw talents, connections, good potential and passion are not enough. These qualities are refined and shaped by systematic hours of training and preparation in specific tasks and movements.


According to Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in what you do. The key to success in any field, profession, or game, to a large extent, is a matter of observing the “10,000-Hour Rule.”

Olympic athletes who ‘go for the gold’ are worthy and honorable in their dedication and practice, even if the prize is material and perishable.

How much more are spiritual athletes worthy and honorable? (I Corinthians 9:25)  As Christians, God calls us to strive for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Back in March of this year (long before I was thinking about the Olympics), at a Wesleyan conference, a featured speaker from the Pentecostal tradition offered to pray for me after his presentation on servant leadership.

After I agreed, he laid one hand on the middle of my back and the other one on my chest near my heart.  He closed his eyes, and prayed very simply and quietly, pausing to tell me what impressions he was seeing, feeling, and hearing in his heart about me: “Flybys” he called them.

What he did not know was how exhausted I was from working so long and hard this year on so many fronts–administering, grant writing, training, teaching, traveling, raising funds for Communities of Shalom, completing the ShalomZone training manual, and (most taxing of all) planning and promoting the 20th Anniversary Shalom Summit in Los Angeles.  I know that working all the time is not healthy, but sometimes and in some seasons you got to give it your all, and then some.

The man of God had words of knowledge and wisdom for me, to be sure.  But what I remember most from his prayer was this: “This year you will win the gold. Not the bronze, or the silver, but the gold.” I had no idea of what he was talking about.  But I wanted to ‘go for the gold.’

And so I continued to practice the art of ‘shaloming.’ I continued to eat, live and breath the peace of God.  I tried to embody the word, and, to paraphrase Gandhi: “Be the Shalom you want to see in the world.”
 
All of us, I believe, are called to be signs of shalom in the world, shalomers in our communities, and to seek shalom wherever we have been sent. It takes training and practice (yes, perhaps 10,000 hours of practice) to become an expert at shalom-making.
  • The Shalom Resource and Training Center at Drew offers a 42 contact hour basic training in community organizing and asset based community development.
  • Advanced and Specialized Trainings also are available by referral.
  • We do shalom coaching and provide technical assistance and relational support through the shalom network of national and regional trainers.  
  • We also offer an annual 30hr. ‘Train the Trainers event at Ocean Grove, this year with composer and musician Ken Medema. (Click here for one of Ken’s Bible studies set to music.)

In October shalom teams will gather in Los Angeles, not for another Olypmic Games, but for the 20th Anniversary International Shalom Summit.  It will take commitment, disciplined effort, focus, and fund-raising practice to get there. Personal determination, spiritual passion for community ministry, and faith at least the size of a mustard seed will be required. But why not ‘go for the gold’?
 
Let me know how I can help. In this particularly difficult and exhausting year (at least for me and I know for many of you), there is a good reason to be together with other shalomers in LA.  Strength in numbers, power in association, opportunities to be equipped for the work we are called to do.
 
In this year of 2012 especially, there is a movement afoot, a special moment in the cosmos, in which the Spirit calls us into partnership with God – the God who is indeed doing a new thing (Isaiah 43:19).
 
We have this call upon our lives. And God has gifted us with potential, passion, talents and energy necessary to fulfill this call. But as with the Olympic athletes, charism (giftedness) is necessary but not sufficient. Training and practice are required for the gold, and to receive the ultimate prize: “Well done good and faithful servant!”  (Mathew 25:23)
 
Shalom Training will sharpen your skills, focus your vision, and equip you for ministry in the community.  And it will be provided at the Shalom Summit.
 
If you have not yet registered, please do so today at: http://www.communitiesofshalom.org/national-summit-2012.html.  If you cannot come yourself, send a representative.  If this is not for you, please give us feedback on what would help you succeed.
 
Yes, it will take special effort, sacrifice and commitment to register for this professional development event. It will require not doing something else on October 3-6, so you can come. It will require not spending money on other, good and worthy, plans and purposes. But…

…setting your eyes on the prize and doing whatever it takes to be in
Los Angeles October 3-6 will be an investment
in yourself and your community that could pay dividends for years to come.

 
Asset Based Community Development means that together we can leverage the resources at our disposal. For the God who ‘owns the cattle on a thousand hills’ as well as all the silver and gold, can mobilize the assets we identify, according to the riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

So, go for the gold in your service to God.  Strive to maximize the talents given you.  Set your intention to attend the Summit.  Make the commitment.  And don’t become distracted from the goal.
 
I look forward to seeing you at the Summit and on the podium of peacemakers.
 
Michael J. Christensen
National and International Director

mchriste@drew.edu
 
PS  There are people who have prayed and given so that you might be at the Summit. If there is a barrier keeping you from registering, please call me at (973) 408-3738.  (This is my direct line.)
 
PPS Mere fractions of seconds are often all that separate those who reach the podium from those who don’t. Persistence in preparation and training can make that difference. Go for the gold. I believe you can be on that podium of Shalom.
 
   
 
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