When Jesus demonstrated God’s Kingdom, hearers connected the dots with Scripture they knew, but more than that, their hearts were engaged, sometimes exposed and enveloped in profound ways, sometimes hit with gripping conviction. Either way, what follows in Jesus’ choreography is an invitation to action, an invitation to “come, follow me,” a practical concrete invitation to faith.
Similarly, Kingdom Rice follows the assessment process with invitations to action. Following an honest assessment of our lenses, the way we see, we can now repudiate any old Masters that the Spirit revealed through prayer. Repentance allows us to put on new lenses. From here, we can actually imagine new pictures that better align with Kingdom pictures, then praying it through “on earth as it is in heaven.
We apply this process to every assessment we tackle. This includes the most important lenses we see through, how we see God, ourselves, and others. The assessments areas of repentance of each of these relationships then this integration process opens space for our souls to reimagine new ways to relate. The joy of living in pluralist cities like SF means we can apply this right away to the diversity of people all around us who don’t relate to our faith tradition. We can actually practice greater biblical tolerance in the way of Jesus. In our workshops we break this down not just to the most important relationships, but into our vocations, and other spaces where we naturally find ourselves, that the fragrance of Christ permeate every space we occupy, that every human being can experience the Good News through your life as you continue journeying towards the humility and empathy of Jesus1.
The fruit of this process is profound and multifaceted. It’s not uncommon to hear a participant exclaim from a church group, “I've been fellowshipping with this brother for decades, and today learned things I never heard before.” In missionary organizations, knowing more of each other’s stories helps members make it through the unique stresses they’ll face on the field. In my experience, the common protocols to mediate conflicts is limited if members don’t learn their story, their instincts, and don’t allow the Spirit to replace these old pictures with new ones. No matter the forum, the payout is this. Participants are able to love each other better, AND love our neighbors better, especially those who do not come from our backgrounds.
“I am the executive director of the YMCA and I met Steve Hong within a few weeks of this most recent assignment. Steve is a member of the YMCA but he’s been more than just a member; he’s a missionary coming in love and with a gentle spirit. I have watched Steve demonstrate a heart of peace and engagement with the staff of our Y and with the other members. He invests the time and relational intention to learn names, ask inviting questions. In fact, Steve has been a model of vulnerability, influence, and authenticity in this way of being a disciple. That is what I have seen Steve model and I want to model the same in my work. For these reasons, I invited Steve to coach me in my own leadership, as I seek to step into the fullness of influence in alignment with the way of Jesus in this space and time at the Y in San Francisco. Steve has been a safe space to open up some of my leadership strategies at the Y. With Steve’s clear and encouraging coaching, I’m able to better process the implications of my strategies to help create a better kingdom-oriented workplace that can be experienced by my staff and the hundreds of members that belong to the Y. “For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but a matter of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?” (1 Corinthians 4:20-21). My leadership role at the Y presents to me a wide mission field that, because of our non-profit approach to work and quest for the common good, resonates with the values of the Kingdom. The best way I can steward my influence to the hundreds I affect is not “with a whip” but with “love and a gentle spirit.” I observe Steve is experienced as good news in our YMCA community because he exudes this love, gentle spirit, and a kingdom-saturated wisdom. I want others to see that in him, in me, and to experience the Y as a place where all our staff and members can experience the values of the Kingdom. How I long for my job, for all our careers as disciples of Christ to experience the Kingdom and the fruit of the Spirit through our jobs.”
a YMCA Executive Director
1 A restatement of the vision statement