Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Ladder or The Life?

"I have discovered only one aspect of myself that I could say is truly extraordinary...and that is how alike and equal I feel to every person I meet, and know that that extends to every single person on the planet." - Jim Spivey
We know how to talk a good game about loving one another, but what is all too frequently really going on in that maniacal mind of ours is the careful examination, "Where do I fit in the ranking of human beings (and specifically between me and you), and can I live with that?"." - Jim Spivey
"For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."  - Jesus Christ
My great friend and partner in crime, Kyle Wade, regularly does an exercise with students that he affectionately refers to as "the Ladder".
He takes a group of students that he is teaching, asks them to stand up, and then asks them to order themselves into a line (aka: ladder) from the least to the greatest. He does this several times giving them different criteria by which to measure themselves, each other, and the group as a whole. He might tell them to line up according to athletic ability, smarts, popularity, or looks. It is a grueling process he puts them through, and a visible display of our deeply human "maniacal mind" caring deeply about where we rank related to each other.
I just got back from a forum of my peers...ACU Lectureship. It was a very large collection of ministers like me, trying to advance the Kingdom of God in a full-time capacity like me. It is a great place to play the Ladder game in real life, using fabricated criteria with which to measure yourself and each other (church size, speaking ability, "are you lecturing while you are here?", how many/who came to your talk).
I see my 3 kids learning it too, jockeying for position on the ladder with toys, who get's to sit next to mom, who's taller, older, better.
I went to a wise, influential man's lecture named Edward Fudge...he sends out an email like this one, he mentioned to over 4,000 people. I hadn't thought about it right then, but I instantly used that to think about how many are on this list...a clear invitation to me to re-enter the Ladder thinking.
The Ladder is everywhere. And it is poison to Life.
I think in large part thanks to Jesus Christ being my cosmic mentor and teacher, and also to one of my mentors and teachers Jim Spivey who so embodies in flesh the Christ-like characteristic of humble recognition of the value of every human being in his life where I can see it with my eyes (and feel it in my bones in his presence), I spend much of my time avoiding the Ladder.
I look forward to the day when I do this naturally, for the time being I will do it intentionally. It brings me life to the full.


Anonymous said...

Since you willingly use Fudge as an example of the pervasiveness of the "Ladder", exactly how did Spivey attained his present position?

Brian Mashburn said...

I'm not quite sure what you mean in connecting Fudge and Spivey. If I appeared to be saying ANYTHING derogatory about Edward Fudge it was completely unintentional. He wasn't bragging or trying to position himself as "someone". His harmless and innocent comment was merely something that caused me to be aware of MY OWN vulnerability to Ladder Thinking. But to answer your question, Jim Spivey has the extra-ordinary ability to see all human beings as equally valuable and significant because he is so honest and vulnerable about himself. God has shown Jim Spivey to Jim Spivey, from God's vantage point, and Jim has accepted his utter brokenness and mediocity as well as his untouchable inherit beauty and glory. When a human sees themselves through God's eyes, they end up seeing everyone the same.