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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lessons learned through nonconformity

Relevant Ministry Blog Schedule:
Tuesday - "About Spiritual Health in Life and Ministry"

Thursday - "About Relevant Women"

by Pam Roth
Do you remember the film, Dead Poet’s Society?  Robin Williams plays a free-spirited English professor, Mr. Keating, at a prep school for boys.  Through unorthodox teaching methods, Mr. Keating encourages his students to look at literature from a new perspective.

Although the professor’s intentions are good, calamity comes out of the students’ newly inspired desire to be nonconformist when it comes to studying poetry.  Unfortunately, the loss of a student brings the class full circle when the authorities of the school decide that something must be done to stop this nonsense.  With a discipline committee on hand, Mr. Keating is asked to resign from his position and the class is brought back under control by a professor that follows “the law to the letter.”

And then, there is that infamous final scene when Mr. Keating comes back to his classroom to gather his personal belongings.  One of the boys apologizes to Mr. Keating for signing a confession that blamed Mr. Keating for all of the boys’ problems.  As Mr. Keating accepts the apology, Mr. Nolan, the interim professor asks Mr. Keating to leave.  Mr. Keating begins to leave when one by one the boys begin to stand upon their desks and cry out, “O Captain, My Captain.”  Through this one act of nonconformity, Mr. Keating realizes that the life lessons he had hoped to impart happened in the lives of these young men and a passion for poetry had been birthed out of Mr. Keating’s unconventional teaching methods.

Conformity is an interesting concept.  Even nature adheres to these principles.  We live on a lake and I’m always amazed when I see baby ducks line up in a row behind their mother or when I see a flock of geese on the lake following the leader.  However, once in a while, you will see a stray venturing off; but, it doesn’t take long and the elder duck or goose will be fussing to get everyone back in order.

Now, I’m not advocating defiance, but I am encouraging us to “think outside of the box.”  Systems have been designed to help us stay safe and secure.  And for the most part, we hope that people will conform – especially when it comes to the laws of our land.

On the other hand, how often do we feel stuck because we are conforming to a system at work, school, or through some personal expression of art, music or fashion?  What happens when that system pulls you down and discourages you?

One sociological theory contends that stress arises when conformity to a social norm fails to satisfy a person’s legitimate desires.  So which acts are deviant and which acts are healthy and help us to grow?

In Romans 12:1-2 we are reminded, “ view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

So here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Who is inspiring me to see things through a new set of lenses? 
  • What am I passionate about and are others aware of my passion?
  • What one step could I take today to break out of the line of conformity and awaken the passion within me?

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For more about Relevant Women -

The purpose of Relevant Women:
Relevant Women exists to train women to minister relevantly, to discover and grow in God’s call in their lives and to serve in their churches as godly leaders.

RW accomplishes this by:
•Teaching life changing truth
•Building significant relationships
•Practicing spiritual disciplines
•Defining our personal stories
•Developing our personal ministry

At Relevant Ministry, our vision is to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

Our mission, to fulfill this vision, is training future leaders - building healthy ministries - and serving on the Gulf Coast. 

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