A simple discipline of flying a kite teaches me much about leading the church.
Wait for the wind.
Sure I can get a kite to fly by running and pulling its string. But without a little outside help I’ll run out of steam and give up.
Sure I can worship God by myself. But without a little outside help I’ll run out of steam and give up.
Let out some string.
If I hold my kite close, it won’t crash. But if I let out some string a fortunate gust might lift it above the turbulence near the ground to where it can soar.
I can design a theologically informed and adequate worship service. But if I let others, even those without a seminary degree, help with the planning, a fortunate idea might lift it from adequate to superb.
Hold fast to make it soar.
A steady breeze will pull a kite down range slowly lifting it as it goes. But holding the string taut while the breeze is strong will tip it upward rising it to new heights and the string will sing.
An exciting production will pull a congregation along slowly lifting it as it goes. But holding fast to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, the solid foundation of our faith, will tip the congregation upward focused on raising songs to God.
Let out more string.
When the wind eases, give the string some slack so the kite can flatten on the air and float down range. Then when the wind stiffens hold fast to soar again.
Allow volunteers to rest from time to time, so they can recognize soaring when the spirit moves them.
Let others hold the string.
Sure I can fly a kite by myself, especially here in wind-swept Indiana. But teaching someone to judge the wind and rise the kite to new heights is an added thrill.
When volunteers take leadership of an event, I get cheer their successes.
Some people launch a kite by running, forcing air under their kite hoping it will rise above the still and turbulent air near the ground to steadier breezes further aloft. My preferred method is to stand and wait. I watch the leaves of near and distant trees anticipating an approaching gust, then toss my kite upward letting out string then pulling it taught hoping the gust will last long enough for the kite to soar ever higher.
Like any discipline, kite flying requires preparation and patience. Many a clear afternoon I have wanted to fly, but the trees would stand still and flags would hang limp. On those days even my most aerodynamic kite will not soar. Earlier today, the wind was strong and turbulent; my lightest kite would be quickly torn to shreds, my heaviest kite quickly took to the air demanding all of my line and pulling it back to earth demanded strength and perseverance while it fought like a big fish.
Spiritual disciplines similarly require preparation, patience, and practice.
Just as I have a variety of kites to address a variety of winds, I also have a variety of prayer practices to address a variety of spiritual needs: breezy chat-like prayers for sunny days, breath prayers when life’s turbulence sends me spinning, and silent reflections when the Spirit has sent me soaring.
Just as I have to wait and watch for the wind, judging both its direction and strength, I also have learned to watch and wait for the Spirit. Sometimes the Spirit comes quickly with obvious signs. Other times I must wait and listen for the still clear voice of God.
And each time I must wind up my prayers and fold up my books and return to the other disciplines God has given me. Sometimes this is easy, and others I fight to stay aloft a little longer. But God needs us also to work and play, to eat, and sleep.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
– Psalm 130:5-6 (NIV)