Our example is the Duomo di Firenze: an architect’s vision of a majestic cathedral with a dome so immense that it could not have been built when he conceived it.
At 142 feet it would be larger than the domes of the U.S. Capitol, St. Paul’s in London, the Pantheon in Rome, and St. Peters in Vatican City. When it was finally constructed, it remained the largest dome in the world for almost five hundred years!
More than eighty years after construction commenced, a goldsmith named Filippo Brunelleschi was born. In his 20’s he moved to Rome. For three years he studied architecture with a buddy named Donatello. If you watch the History Channel (I don’t) you’ll know that name. Brunelleschi studied the Pantheon, the largest dome then in existence. How it’d been built was an architectural and engineering conundrum.
Brunelleschi made several significant discoveries. Returning to Florence, he convinced the builders that he had a method to put di Cambio’s dome on the cathedral. This solution was ground-breaking on several fronts. The innovations Brunelleschi employed, however, are not our focus today. What is, is the commitment to the completion of this cathedral by generations of people who’d never see it with their own eyes.
Leaders are not those with the best ideas or superior methods. Leaders have developed the strengths of character and the capacity to self-management so that they sustain movement in pursuit of what God’s called them to without giving up.
And, they do it in a way that motivates and mobilizes others in the pursuit of that great vision.
More than 2,000 years ago Jesus did this too. He laid out a vision of the Kingdom of God in ways that people could grasp.
Lots of ways.
In scores of demonstrations of God’s mercy, supernatural power, the stories he told and word pictures he used, and an occasional sermon. Most often, Jesus proclaimed the coming Kingdom by the way he lived and moved among the people.
This is our great and noble task today. To live in such a way that the Kingdom of God is demonstrated over and over in ways that people get.
My invitation is to join with those who’ll do this to their last breath and will have prepared a couple generations who’ll follow just as passionately and powerfully for as long as they have breath.
Think of it as a cathedral of great, influential human lives.
Coaching distinctions #40.doc
As a coach to pastors and Christian influencers, I’m sometimes surprised at the vacillating commitment of we who claim to be Christ’s. I completely understand that life gets tough … so much so that, at times, I want to tear the hair from my head.
What I struggle to appreciate is the apparent over-arching power of the option to collapse on one’s vision and thereby escape the tension of living between what is and what God’s called us to.
Last week, Annie and I were with friends on a Segway Tour in Florence, Italy. I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to museums, tours, and lectures about things that occurred centuries ago. I’m much like Charlie Brown: “Bla, bla, bla… gelato!!… bla, bla, bla”.
But, as our guide was describing “the Duomo”, an incredible domed cathedral, the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, I lit up.
An architect named di Cambio, designed it in the 1200’s with a massive eight-sided dome, and convinced the city council to build it.
Trouble is, nowhere on earth did the technology exist to build that dome! So, construction began on the immense cathedral in 1296… and when they got to the dome … they could not go forward.
For the next 120 years, eight architects worked the problem without success.
Think about it.
Six generations coming and going without a dome atop the greatest cathedral in Tuscany.
How many of us sustain our commitment for 120 months, 120 weeks, 120 days?
- Your first marriage?
- Your relationship with an angry, distant teen?
- An initiative to reach your neighborhood for Christ?
- Turning your congregation from entitled religious consumers to maturing ministers of the goodness of God?
- Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with an embattled pastor whose desire is to bring the congregation into Christ-likeness?
I’ve watched many Christian pastors begin well, then collapse when confronted by opposition.
Usually their undoing is the resistance of church members activated by elevated anxiety. Anxiety because they’re so unaccustomed to trusting Christ in the midst of difficulty. Or, because when given the opportunity to live distinctly Christian lives they’re so out of practice they’d rather do anything else.
Watching these leaders succumb could break my heart, if I let it.
But then, I would’ve collapsed on the vision God’s given me. That vision is to strengthen the character of Christian leaders so that the churches they influence live courageously for the Kingdom of God.
Next time, we’ll return to the story of the Duomo and the commitment to a vision that took more than a century to apprehend.
Stay with me.
Coaching distinctions #39.doc