Watch out for the dependent trap. Angus Buchan & I have the same problem: our message & motive is to empower people, but some people (many more in his case) simply shift their dependency onto us. Which ensures a crowd at the next meeting, but actually dis-empowers. If this isn’t squarely addressed, so many conference-junkies return just as dependent as ever, to dependent roles in church, and passive/lazy roles at home.
Now I’m not talking about going to a conference in order to be encouraged, because you hear a message that you resonate with. You go back encouraged & equipped, and live it out with more clarity. That’s as it should be.
But I feel like 80% of the conference junkies
I meet, are promoting the conference/author/guru out of unhealthy neediness & dependency. And I kinda want to stay away from a group like that – its not Angus’ fault, it’s the groupie-ism, the cult of celebrity. The advertising smells like it. The generating fear or neediness (“ooh, you’re not a real man unless you come to the real man conference.” Yes I am – I just don’t need it. Invite me to a table of peers instead!)
I sensed the same co-dependence when I visited Amway or those Landmark Forums. Or at some (unfortunately many) churches. A herd of good people who are co-dependently attached in a way that is a self-perpetuating cycle of neediness. The guru needs you to need them to ‘enable’ you, to support their ministry. And round it goes, so subtly, so unintentionally, so naturally, with so much good stuff being taught… But the co-dependent trap is sprung.
Angus & I say things like, “Work and pray. Work into your life the things God has made clear. Shape your habits, because they will then shape you. Pray hard AND row away from the rocks. Use your brain, some practices are unsustainable – work to change them. God has made some good systems – use them. Love is an action, something you do, not just receive. Be it, do it, feel it, think it. For God’s sake, man up! Don’t stay dependent on the mothers milk of perpetual feeding, but move on the the meat of exercise – take responsibility & initiative under God.”
We want you to do it so that, before long, you don’t need to hear it anymore – because you’re doing it!
“None will have to teach his fellow countrymen to know the Lord, because all will know me, from the least to the greatest.” – Jeremiah 31:34
What I do love about the Forge movement, & SUNO, is that it was practitioners & experimenters meeting together (or at least those who clearly knew that it was just a matter of time before they’d be diving in themselves.) Therefore no-one was becoming dependent on the speakers, or the conference. That genius, was also probably part of the reason Forge only lasted a decade – we didn’t create a dependence. Hence lots of us didn’t feel like failures at the end (and not from denial.)
My problem: In my job at OAC, it’s a fine line between advertising myself, versus promoting dependency. Yes, I want you to know what I do, so you can use it to be that much better equipped, encouraged, empowered. But because I do need a certain amount of paying gigs to survive financially, so it is easy to cross that fine line, and make you feel like you need me & what I have to offer. Generating neediness – that’s the core of marketing media. But it’s not Jesus’s Gospel.
Q: How do I let you know about me in an empowering way so you can use me like a tool to be returned to the shed after use? (Yes I know many have referred to me as a tool before!)
Your problem? Take a good look at your schedule. Are you caught in a co-dependent trap? Or have you grown up & taken responsibility for making ministry happen – for your family, community, workplace?
Do you relate to conference speakers or church leaders, or other professional experts like they are your peers, or like they are your gurus?