Tim Willard and Jason Locy have worked with ministry leaders for nearly a decade now. Their first book, Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society, asked penetrating questions about identity while challenging readers to pursue authenticity in their spiritual and physical lives.
They’re back with a wonderful new book titled Home Behind the Sun: Connect With God in the Brilliance of the Everyday. With a title like that, we were eager to ask them a few questions and see what new thoughts they have brewing.
Church Leaders: How should leaders interact with this book?
Jason: We intentionally wrote the book to be an introspective read and then added a discussion guide so that growing and learning could happen first individually, and then in community. That way the applications are contextualized based on the reader’s environment and past experiences.
We think leaders grow by being around other people in deep conversations. So what we wanted to do was to give you, the leader-reader, deep conversation rather than a book of “how-tos” and bullet points.
Tim: We wanted to give the leader a book that didn’t explain how to do something, like confront unforgiveness in their heart, but rather offer a resource that would actually speak to that specific felt need. Our good friend Adam pastors a church in Sioux Falls, S.D., and he is going through the book with his staff. His comment was: “This book doesn’t tell me how to grow closer to God, it actually helps me do that.”
That blew us away, but we’re finding that’s how leaders are using it.
*FROM Church Leaders: Click here for a sample of the Discussion Guide
CL: In Chapter 4, you write, “We’ve forgotten what it means to be children of God.” What do you mean by this? And how do you feel this can be remedied?
Tim: I think this means that we’ve forgotten how to trust God. My daughters inherently trust me. They know nothing else. But as they grow older, they become more reliant on themselves. It’s the way of things. It’s the same with our relationship with God. We rely on him early in our faith experience, but the more self-reliant we become, the more we drift from him and the less we trust him to take care of us. Why? Because we think we’ve got it handled.
Jason: For leaders, self-reliance can quickly turn into pride and the exclusion of God altogether. We think our plans, innovation and methods are great because they succeed. We look at what we’ve built and say, “Man, look what I can do.”
I think we remedy this by first being aware that we’ve drifted from this beautiful place of trust that Tim was talking about. By living aware, we can then confront the problem. And I think confronting it looks like reordering our lives a bit.
When you evaluate a problem at work or at school, in order to solve it you must reorder something or rearrange something or get rid of something or add something. The same is true for our spiritual lives. We need to be aware, confront the problem and do what it takes to reorder our lives in a way that reignites our trust with God.
CL: You guys make some strong comments about how Christians interact with one another on the Internet. What does it look like to “be brilliant,” as you put it, in our Internet engagment?
Jason: When a popular pastor, “thought leader” or “celebrity blogger” says something via a book, a blog or a conference presentation, it seems that we must make our opinions heard—airing our disdain in our own social media fiefdoms for the world to see.
Those actions leave little distinction between our Christian discourse and that of the bickering heads on cable news or the cynical celebrity gossip columnists. We watch, we skim, we post, we stir the blogosphere—our new means of burning our so-called heretics.
The Internet provides everyone with a voice. The larger the platform, the louder the voice. Too often, Christians, in an effort to gain a seat at the cultural table, sacrifice good judgment for a spike on their social media platforms.
Like the ambulance-chasing lawyer, the loud voices of the Internet wait for a misstep, a mistake, a faulty theology. Then they chase the story looking for their profits, a growing platform. The Internet creates a distance between the loud voices and those they attack. This, when poorly stewarded, allows us to throw up cheap grace as our license to say what we want, how we want.
Tim: In the book, to “be brilliant” means to let Christ rule in our lives—for real. Not just give it lip service in our rhetoric, but actually apply Christian virtues in our interaction. At times, this may mean to not say or post something that we really desire to. It may mean that our voice doesn’t get heard on an issue that is popular.
When the news about Mark Driscoll’s dealings hit the web, people took all kinds of “stances.” But who among us actually possesses the right to speak into Mark’s life? Are we to toss criticism at other leaders in the name of “justice” or “accountability” just because we have access to a blog platform?
Being brilliant means, in this case, to die to our desire and to allow a posture of peace to rule our hearts and blogs.
CL: We’ve all seen a beautiful sunrise, felt the joy that comes with a much-needed chat with a friend, or the exhilaration of finishing that weeks-long project at work. But how do we make sure to see God in these everyday events?
Jason: A friend of ours, Jason Haynes, just sent us this poem.
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
—William C. Martin
Maybe that’s how we can at least start.
Tim: Yeah, that poem is a wonderful reminder of what it means to see God in the everyday. Like Jason said, though, it’s a start. We always look for God in these grand and incredible ways. Like parting water and crumbling city walls and killing giants. And certainly we see him there. But he is a God of infinite wonder, so this places him in the small things too. In the everyday.
There is a chapter in the book where Jason recounts a trip to Yosemite. Here we see the grandness of God through the incredible landscape. But, as Jason reflects, he begins to see God in the smallest details of the trip. This took reflection, and I think that’s what presses us toward seeing God in the everyday. Just taking time to stop and think and reflect.
Timothy (left) is a PhD candidate at King’s College London and lives in Oxford, England, with his wife and three pixie daughters. Meanwhile, Jason (right) directs the efforts of his design firm, FiveStone. He lives with his wife and four children, and one annoying dog, in Brooklyn, New York.