Do human agendas or aspirations ever get in the way of something much bigger than ourselves? Of course, they do. That is obvious even among church people. The issue that took up the most time and energy at Synod yesterday had nothing to do with social issues or anything we consider to be "hot button topics". Instead, it was about the issue of restructuring the church so that we can work more efficiently. The topic was officially called "Unified Governance" but what it means is that now we will have just one board to work through and with instead of three boards. The one board will be composed of 52 members instead of three boards with about 70 members each so we are downsizing to 52 instead of over 200. That will save the denomination a lot of money that is spent for meeting costs and it will allow us to work in a much more efficient manner.
You would think that everyone would be in favor of saving money and being more efficient, but some people chose to make the process of approving this measure a long drawn out affair because they wanted to push their agenda instead of letting the process work and then try to fine tune any issues that may arise. One gentleman took the microphone six times to try to change what had been produced by a committee over a two year time period and each time he would be ruled out of order by the chairperson and he would challenge her ruling and we would have to take time to vote to either affirm her ruling or throw it out. The delegates affirmed her ruling overwhelmingly each time but it took much more time than was needed to hash out this issue because of his selfish motivations. This man represented a certain group and his complaint had to do with the possibility that his group may not be as represented in the new set up as he would like. In the end, the new proposal to downsize passed overwhelmingly and we moved on to new business but it took about 3 hours to do this instead of one hour or less.
Even at a meeting of people who belong to the same church family, we can allow our personal motivations to get in the way. I suppose that is true in every area of life. We can either think about what is best for the larger group or insist on having our own way. I could get very theological on this problem and quote I Corinthians 13--the love chapter--with the verse "Love does not insist on its own way" but suffice it to say that often we need to allow the larger work to happen instead of our own. When churches or groups of many kinds allow the larger goals to be achieved it often brings about success for all. Our own way may not be the best for all and often we need to hear other voices so that the will of what is best for all can be done.
Today, we consider other issues to be brought before the Synod. I pray for unity and peace to reign among us so that we may consider them without getting stuck in the quagmire of selfish ambition. The mood overall has been very tranquil and harmonious but sometimes small interludes of confusion colors our view. May God's peace reign in our hearts and lives wherever we may be today.