thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

Q: Power and Privilege (Andy Crouch)

QlogoLast week I had the privilege of traveling to Austin, TX and participating in my second Q. Q describes itself as a gathering where innovators, church leaders, social entrepreneurs, and cultural pioneers come together to explore the church’s role in positively contributing to culture. The format of Q is unlike any other conference I have attended. Each speaker is literally “on the clock” and given 18 minutes to present their big culture shaping idea. Over the course of the three day experience I had the opportunity to hear over 25 presentations – it’s like drinking from a firehose. But it provides plenty of fodder for thought and reflection and I am looking forward to sharing some of my processing and reflection here.

Due to a nightmarish travel experience with Northwest and Delta, I missed the morning session of Q and arrived just in time for Andy Crouch’s afternoon session. Andy is the author of Culture-Making and was one of my favorites at last year’s Q and I awaited this year’s talk with great anticipation; he did not disappoint. “Power, Privilege and Rank” was the title of Andy’s talk and my guess it was the essence of a book that he is working on right now. Here’s a sneak peak.

Andy stated with a great question: “what happens when culture-making actually works?” Have you ever stopped to reflect upon success and the implications (both positive and negative) of successfully accomplishing something?

Andy threw out his own working definitions of some important terms. The first was “creative power” which he defined as “the ability to propose a new cultural good.” I believe all of us possess creative power; it’s one of the characteristics of being created in the image of God. Today I spent some time reflecting on my own creative power. I love to create worship and learning environments and it energizes me to use my creative power to catalyze missional initiatives and new kingdom ventures. What about you? What creative power has God entrusted to you and what is the context for the release of your creative power and energy?

The second term that Andy unpacked was the concept of “rent,” but not the kind of rent that you pay your landlord or Avis. Andy defined rent as “the excess income you can demand for what you would do anyway.” For example, David Beckham as a high degree of rent when to comes soccer. While he commands millions to play the game, he most likely would play the game for the love of it! While reflecting upon this I thought of two other high rent people: Chris Martin from Coldplay and Giada De Laurentiis, the everyday Italian wonderchef. Again my suspicion is that Chris Martin would be making music even if he wasn’t playing sold out venues and Giada would be creating magnificent meals even without the bright lights of TV.

Are there any areas of rent in your life? And if so, how might you leverage that rent for the purposes of building for the kingdom of God? This is something I am thinking quite a bit about lately, especially as I have entered my second half of life.

The final term Andy leveraged was privilege which he defined as “the continuing benefits of past successful exercises of creative power.” Here are some questions I have been considering:

  • In what ways am I banking on or coasting on past successes?
  • How often am I aware of the incredible privilege I have as a white, male living in the United States in the 21st century?
  • How am I measuring fruitfulness in the present?

Two last words from Andy, the first a statement and the other a question:

“Jesus is not satisfied by the past but is interested in creating new pathways of creative shalom.”

“We all have privileges as sons and daughters of the Most High God – are we willing to prodigally spend it on behalf of others?”

Stay connected…


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have the peace that passes understanding at the heart of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world. for the world is more malleable than we think and we must wrestle it from fools. (bono)
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