I’m afraid that the best I have to offer the world is an oxymoron.
Good to Great says that great companies refine their focus to find the one thing they can do better than anyone else in the world. Steve Fawver just read it (I tackled it a few years back), and when we were talking about it a few weeks ago I began wondering if that theory could be applied to individuals. And if so…what in the world could I do better than anyone else? Obviously, if you come up with an answer, it simply proves that you are an egomaniac without a grip on reality. Perhaps a more helpful question is, what am I uniquely qualified to offer the world?
I got the chance to work with a few other people to develop one of the chapel sessions of Quaker Heritage Week at George Fox University. Founded by Quakers and with a desire to hold on to its roots, the reality is that GFU has grown rapidly over the past decade, and the vast majority of students are not Quaker. Our goal for the chapel was to help create a positive bridge between the non-Quaker student and some of our core Friends’ distinctives. We chose to do that by using a barrage of images and media and music to communicate how being at a Quaker university uniquely positions these students to be ready to change the world, to bring justice as they follow the leading of God’s Spirit. And from the feedback we received, we were very successful at hitting our goal.
My role was largely the tech side of things. I ripped the video and set up the presentation (mentally beginning a still unfinished post on “Presentations 101”), and I did get to share verbally a little bit. When it was all over and I had a chance to reflect, I realized that my tech geekiness, communication skills, and passion for Quaker theology all got to converge in good ways. We found ways to tap into how our culture is longing and working for social justice, but then shaped it in a Friendly direction, linking the outward flow of world-changing action inextricably with an inward, intimate connection to the living Jesus.
Maybe this is what I am most uniquely qualified to offer the world: I can use technology, media, and pop culture to communicate the Evangelical Friends theology of Northwest Yearly Meeting to non-Quakers in a compelling and engaging manner.
And that’s what I’m worried might be the oxymoron.
One wouldn’t look at the silent reflectiveness of historic Quakerism and immediately see how music, movies and media sit well with it. My hope is that my blogging and postmodern non-linearity (is that a word?) are a way for me to express with authenticity and integrity the values that have profoundly changed me. My fear is that I’m a living expression of a mutation that never should have occurred.
In all reality, though, oxymoronish or not, I think this is the path that the Creator has laid before me, and which I’m trying to walk with faithfulness. I want to believe that it’s me tapping into the historic progressive tendency of Quakers who engaged the culture with the power of the gospel.