“Shape the person…”

Written by on March 21, 2011

On a recent trip to Cincinnati I was enjoying a good cup of coffee and a good conversation with Vic Gordon, a good friend who pastors Kenwood Baptist Church.  We were discussing how hard it is at times to gain trust, and how rewarding a relationship can become on the other side of the things that may cause a season of initial suspicion. As we were talking in the local Starbucks, in walked David Hansen, the former pastor of Vic’s church.  David is a tall drink of water, and looks like a smart professor.  Vic called him over to join us, knowing David would add some spice to the conversation.  David is also the sort of person you can’t help but like when you first encounter him—warm hand shake, an honest smile, and a wittiness that confirmed you could have some good laughter at the table. Vic began to explain a little about who I was, why we were spending some time together and what I do through the ministry of VantagePoint3…. I rather enjoyed watching Vic describe how the processes and resources developed by VantagePoint3 have had a significant impact on the adult discipleship and leadership development initiatives at his former church in Southern California.  He described the process as “life changing” for those who went through it. David is also the sort of person who has had years of pastoral experience under his belt.  His book The Art of Pastoring (IVP, 1994) is a taste of what he has come to know over the years.  And he has also seen his fair-share of “dog-and-pony-shows” that have come and gone, promising to change the church.  So, it didn’t take long before I found myself held in a place of suspicion.  The honesty in David’s smile was soon transferred to a furrowed look on his face—the sort of look that comes with suspicion.  In such moments I find myself praying for a response that is both honoring of the person before me, and at the same time inviting of the person to consider some ways we are learning to help deepen and empower adult believers.  What came to mind to share with David was, “Shape the person, and you stand a greater chance of shaping everything else.”  It was a word given to me by James Houston, founder of Regent College in Vancouver, BC.  And it is an apt word that describes the sort of slow and deep change we’ve seen time and time again.  It’s a word, however, that confronts how we go about doing what we do in Jesus’ name.  It’s a way of noticing others—a mentoring way that if cultivated over the long haul has a way of changing things.  It seemed as though the more we talked about noticing others the more the suspicion dropped away.  I invited David to join Rob Loane and myself for a webinar March 24th where we will talk more about the importance of paying attention to the formation of others.  The webinar is called, “A Spiritual Mentoring Culture.”  We would love for you to join us too. Blessings…

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