Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shoot Your Dogs

Shoot Your Dogs by Mark Driscoll

I was raised in the mountains. If you weren't, let me inform you that this is very different than being raised in the city. NASCAR. Pork rinds. Different.

Life was hard there. Most of the men mined coal underground. People had to be tough to survive. For example, if you had a dog and it got old and sick, you may have had to shoot it to put it out of its misery. You heard me. Shoot it.

Put It Out Of Its Misery

This didn’t happen because the people were angry, mean, or against the ethical treatment of animals. In fact, quite the opposite was true. People shot their dogs because it was the most humane thing they could do when their beloved pet was old and sick and the owners couldn't afford to have a vet put him down. When this point came, they simply went out to the woods, did what they had to do, cried, and came home.

Ministry Dogs

Even though most of us reading this would not want to admit it, I can almost guarantee you that there is at least one "dog" wandering around in each of our ministries that needs to be shot.

These include a program or system that has outlived its effectiveness; a set of ideas or terminology that is no longer relevant; or a leader that is no longer leading and needs to be lovingly transitioned. In other words, a dog that needs to be shot. And as long as you allow it to wander around, it is going to drain your momentum and hurt the mission.

You don't need to act rashly about it, but you know the mission is too important to not act prayerfully and soon.

Do you have the courage to shoot the dog?

Check out Pastor Mark’s book Confessions of a Reformission Rev for a further discussion of this idea.



Anonymous said...

Starts off harsh, but the point is pretty well taken. I think this can apply beyond the church, as well. Any time you find a program that is no longer filling the need it originally was intended to fill, it's time to pull the plug.

The problem is often that the program was so well intentioned in the first place, it's hard to argue to get rid of it. Sometimes you have ot be prepared to have an alternative way to "solve" the problem...


e said...

I occasionally do this with people in my life. I take stock of the "what" and "why" and if it doesn't equate, I pull the trigger.

No sense in bogging my life down with stuff that just isn't needed in order for me to have an optimal life.

This Daddy said...

Holy smoke, Chrissy. I was thinking at the beginning "what is this woman saying?" Am I reading a different blog? Good point and it makes sense in alot of avenues in life.

Randi Fetters said...

(Please forgive typos and grammar errors as I’m typing this in a major hurry—gotta get back to work.)

I personally do not have the courage to shoot a dog, literally speaking. I know, there are those who will ask if I would rather the animal suffer. No, I wouldn’t. But I, personally, look for every way in the world to cure it because I’m an animal-loving freak. By the way, snakes are NOT included in my “animal category.” But that discussion is for a different day and a different blog.

Metaphorically speaking, however, I have the courage to shoot the dog…if I am the dog. But do we shoot it? Or is there a way to heal it? In John 15, one of my favorite chapters, Jesus gives an analogy that is easy enough to understand that my simple mind grasps it. He starts out in verse one showing the hierarchy, if you will, that He is the true vine—yet another way we are shown that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him—and that God, His Father, is the gardener. Jesus goes on in verse two to say that God cuts off every branch of His (Jesus’s) that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear so that they will produce even more. Jump to verse four. He says that if we remain in Him, He will remain in us, and that a branch cannot produce fruit if it is cut off from the vine, and thus we cannot be fruitful unless we remain in Him.

So the same analogy can be made here as has been made with putting a dog down—except that I will be able to sleep better thinking about pruning vines than shooting dogs (just kidding, Chrissy). Programs, system, and people can eventually run their course. But do we shoot? Or can we heal? I think Jesus is referring to Judas-like behavior when he talked about cutting off a branch that doesn’t produce. Judas completely hardened his heart and was not a follower of Christ. Even though he was a bit hardheaded and strong-willed (characteristics my parents and grandparents have used in reference to me on more occasions than I care to count), I think that Jesus is referring to Peter-like behavior when he talks about branches being pruned that do bear so that they will produce even more. Peter denied knowing Jesus, but yet Jesus said upon Peter would he build his church. Peter wasn’t perfect by any means, but he was a Christian who just needed some pruning.

I think we all need to do what I call “self checks” periodically (you know you, so you decide how often). Look at yourself, your witness to the world, and be honest. Does your heart show signs that warrant being cut off and, therefore, is a dog in need of being shot? Or do you need to prune something in order to be more fruitful and, therefore, is a dog that can be healed? I could go on and on with this as it turns into a “domino affect,” so I’ll just briefly mention the next domino: this relates to how our witness and behavior affect the body of Christ. The body cannot operate apart from itself (as we cannot operate apart from Christ, John 15:1-5). A hand cannot work if the wrist is missing or broken, nor can an arm work if the shoulder is missing or broken. So if we need shot, how does that affect the body of Christ? If we need shot, have we not negatively impacted the body’s function? Kind of like that debit card commercial where the store is flowing like clockwork, everything running perfectly smooth, and then BAM! someone whips out a checkbook to pay instead of a debit card (except for negatively impacting the function of the body of Christ is much more serious, of course). Okay. I said I wasn’t going to go on, so I’m gonna hold true to my word.

passionofthemom said...

I couldn't agree with you more. While I don't know if I could have the courage to shoot the dog literally, as those in the mountains have to do, I could absolutely shoot the dog figuratively!! (How strange that I care more for the plight of an animal than for that of a "human" being.)

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