One of the unintended blessings of administration during Covid times is that you can be a fly on the wall on some great virtual teaching.
On one such occasion, I heard Revd Canon Miles Baker speak on Leadership in the context of vision casting and achieving targets. He used the story of the Magi in the Christmas story to illustrate his points. This reminded me of the fact that scripture is for all of life and how easily it could be forgotten when we try to manage the business side of our communities and individual lives. To be brought back to the centre of the Word in this way was so refreshing.
Let me try and recall what my small brain gathered from this talk. Miles (if I may address him so) was focusing on three points of 1. Objectives 2. Strategy and 3. Tactics in the context of practical input into vision casting.
So, what was the objective of the Magi in the Christmas story that is so familiar to us. Their question to King Herod in Matthew 2 might have a clue. It seemed whatever the hidden motives, King Herod too wanted to share in the Magi’s objective.
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” V2
They knew who flung stars in the sky and had come together with just one objective – to worship him. They had the knowledge and the wisdom which is clear from this one verse in the text. As the story unravels we know that they pursued their main objective.
What was their strategy? What tools and resources did they have? History has depicted them to be using camels as their mode of transport, although this is not mentioned in scripture. (Just as Miles pointed, I too would be disappointed if I get to eternity and find that camels did not feature in the story of the Magi!). The star was the sign they followed and was constant through their journey. Their strategy was to follow the star and they did so to the end, until they found the baby Jesus. The ‘star’ is mentioned 4 times in that part of the story. We saw it as mentioned above when they assigned the star to the King they were seeking. The star remained a constant focus in their journey until they achieved their objective.
“……..and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped at the place where the child was.” V9
“When they saw the star they were overjoyed”. V10
Finally, to the tactics. The story is full of twists and turns. Tactics need to remain fluid and flexible whilst keeping focussed on the objective. In mission and ministry, when we are dealing with people and life situations a rigid plan can sometimes thwart a well-intended strategy. Going back to the Magi, they would have had a great deal of planning to do to set off on a long journey from the east with a destination unknown. Packing gifts for a king and items for their own sustenance, an entourage! They seek Herod’s counsel but are guided by a dream not to return his way after worshipping the baby Jesus. They were open to being guided by a dream and change their plans. They sat lightly on their tactics.
As much as it was a way of illustrating three key points of achieving great things in the service of the Kingdom, the objective that the Magi had set was so captivating that it grasped my attention. Whatever culture the Magi came from, they pursued and reached the ultimate objective of worshipping the King, the Lord of all nations.