As I have reflected on my own leadership style, Biblical images inform my perception of reality. I recall the great tower of Babel which was built by a homogeneuos group of self-centered persons who had lofty aspirations of god-hood, not the God-head. (People just don’t seemto get it that there can be only one God. Even the Lord God cannot make another God, for anything the one and only God makes is by definition a creation, and anything that is created cannot by definition be God.) In the stiffling, sameness of pseudo-community, people seek god-likeness. They become crazed with ability and define everything from their own point of view, shared with others. Perception is reality. The Babel multitudes envisioned a great stairway to heaven and needed a paradigm shift, a fundamental change of reference which of course could not come from within. Paradigm shifts do not usually come from within, but rather are observed by looking at a set of conditions from a different vantage point, a different perspective, a different field of view, so that what is obvious or hidden, good or bad, in one paradigm may in fact be totally opposite in another paradigm. God introduced the paradigm shift, God reoriented the masses and with one fiat act (of grace, I should add!) changed everybody in a moment. Like the youth mixer where each person is given one of many different barnyard sounds to imitate and thus have to hook up like-sounding others. The activity divides the crowd into smaller groups. At Babel, God assigned a langauge distinction which made communicating others of a different langauge impossible. The great multiplication bacame a great migration.

This is chaos, plain and simple. But on Pentecost, something amazing happened. God’s Spirit took a chaotic, dysfunctional community of people, namely those gathered in Jerusalem for the high holy day, and again introduced another paradigm shift. A fundamentally different way of looking at life. The Spirit of God descended on the believers and each bagan to speak in a langauge of someone they did not know. A reverse-Babel, a new community, the Church was born. Finally, the commonality of the Spirit brought the potential for true community but I notice one important feature of Pentecost: God, instead of giving the gift of tounges to his people, couldhave just as easily (Is one miracle any more or less difficult for God than any other?) changed people’s hearing to hear, say Hebrew, or Aramaic, or Greek, or any other langauge, but he didn’t. God condemned the self-centered sameness of Babel but affirmed the beauty of diversity at Jerusalem on Pentecost. Our differences are not the problem. Diversity is not the problem. My goal in this class was not to conform to someone else’s style, attitude, learning model, type or proclivity. Rather, my goal was to discover all the diverse richness of Kevin Richard Yoho, his uniqueness, his giftedness, his strengths and weaknesses, my preferences and likes, AND affirm, appreciate, encourage, others in their distinctiveness and complexity, and learn from them. From pseudo-community to chaos, to emptying to real community. A journey begun with intentionality which will find its finality in Christ and his body, the Church.

Many years ago I recorded an unatributed poem in the back of my Bible which has often reminded me of the reality of growth:

“There was a very cautious man,

who never risked or tried.

He never hoped.

He never failed.

He never laughed or cried.

And when one day he passed away, his insurance was denied.

For since he really never lived,

they claimed he never died.”

Beyond Pentecost. That's what I'm talking about.