A lot of times in Christian circles, we focus on the extremes. Extreme faith, extreme dedication, extreme charisma, extreme courage, etc. There is a place for that… and I suppose, it is reasonable that the heroes of the faith are often people of rather extreme temperaments, even (perhaps) collectors of personality disorders. They are people you might like to read about or even watch on TV (watching a TV evangelist who can say the word “preach” in three syllables), but you REALLY wouldn’t want to have them living next door to you. We focus on someone like Bob Pierce who clearly had drive for Christian Missions, yet greatly injured his family in the process. (See Ruth Tucker’s Book “The Christian Speakers Treasury: A Sourcebook of Anecdotes and Quotes” or This Article). His creation of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse certainly should IMPRESS. But should it INSPIRE?
There is a place for the extremes, but I think there is a place, a calling, for “the radical middle”… daring to find balance. George Verwer of Operation Mobilization, speaks of a few of these balance points. (“Out of the Comfort Zone and Into Missions,” pg. 51-57, OMF Literature Philippines Version, 2000).
1. Balance of FAITH and COMMONSENSE. Verwer Quotes A.W. Tozer: “In our constant struggle to believe we are likely to overlook the simple fact that a bit of healthy disbelief is sometimes as needful as faith to the welfare of our souls. I go further and say that we would do well to cultivate a reverent skepticism. It will keep us out of a thousand bogs and quagmires where others who lack it sometimes find themselves. It is no sin to doubt something but it may be fatal to believe everything.”
2. Balance between DISCIPLINE and LIBERTY. I would hope this is obvious… but the temptation to extremes is strong in ministry. Many fall and fail, unable to find this balance.
3. Balance between AUTHORITY and FELLOWSHIP. Strong authoritarian leaders destroy ministries… either during their leadership or upon their ill-prepared for absence. But a leader who is everyone’s friend may well be tossing aside his duty to lead.
4. Balance in PRIORITIES. Time home and time in service, work and play, family and others, witnessing to unbelievers and helping believers. This list is endless.
5. Balance between DECISIVE/FIRM and GENTLENESS/BROKENNESS. In Pastoral Counseling, there is a great deal of respect for paradoxical imagery such as “the Wounded Healer” or “the Wise Fool.” (See “Images of Pastoral Care: Classic Readings,” Robert Dykstra, editor). In Christian leadersip, we need such imagery. The Gentle Warrior, The Broken Builder.
6. DOCTRINAL balance. Balance between life and teachings. Creative tension in theological paradox. Little good is done demonizing honest Christians for disagreements in smaller issues. Little good is done in demonizing period.
7. Balance regarding GOD. God is love and just. God is Omnipotent Creator and Heavenly Father. God is the Gentle Lamb and Strong Warrior. Unbalanced focus on metaphor will lead us away from God, not toward Him.
Anyway, you can look at the book for a better (and longer) description.