The Second Day of Christmas is The Feast of Stephen - famously mentioned in the popular carol, Good King Wenceslas. Are YOU a heretic?
Calling all the heroic heretics on this, the Feast of Stephen.
Drawing more on Seth Godin than on Acts 6 and 7 (which you can read), we explore how our time needs people who can no longer tolerate the status quo. People who will stand up and be counted. People who will lead their tribe.
https://youtu.be/NgO2mih5eDY will take you to the same message with a display of the hundreds of candles Swanage United Reformed Church light each year. It is spectacularly peaceful!
The Second Day of Christmas
“On the Feast of Stephen,” so we sing in the carol, “Good King Wenceslas.”
Today is Saint Stephen’s day – Stephen, the Proto-Martyr – slain for being a ‘Heretic’.
I think Stephen’s death is relevant to all of us – religious, spiritual or otherwise. Why? Because he was a heretic to those who were invested in the status quo of the time.
Seth Godin says these following fascinating words on his TED Talk, “The tribes we lead.”
"The Heretic looks at the status quo and says, 'This will not stand. I can't abide this status quo; I am willing to stand up and be counted and move things forward. I see what the status quo is - I don't like it...'"
Rather than being a SheepWalker – keeping your head down and not making waves; be a leader.
Seth goes on to say…
Q. Who exactly are you upsetting? (Because if you're not upsetting anyone, you're not changing the status quo.) This is about targeted-upset – not about being annoying for the sake of it!
Q. Who are you connecting? (That's what most people are in a 'tribe' for – a sense of belonging.) I think Tribes need a sense of ‘place’ too. This is why I am taking a more active role in “Designed in Dorset,” because we Dorset people want to shop locally and not see our wealth leached into leviathans like Amazon who have killed the high street in a move towards total control of resources. (And, yes, I shop on Amazon – but not as much as I used to. We’ve got great local bookshops, and craftspeople that cannot be found on Amazon.)
Q. Who are you leading? Focus on that part, not the mechanics of what you're building. The 'Who' and the 'Leading part' is where change comes.
🌏 What's the Change you want to make? 🚀 How will you challenge and upset the status quo?
🕯 Which Movement will you Lead? (You don’t have to create the movement; rather find a movement and deliver some thought-leadership and direction worth following. Leaders are rare.)
🥂 What is the Tribe you will Connect? How will you connect the members?
🎙 What's the Story? Is there more than one narrative?
Seth says, here’s what leaders have in common:
Challenge, Culture, Curiosity, Connection, and Commitment.
1 Challenge – they challenge the status quo
2 Culture – they build a culture – perhaps a secret language or a seven second handshake – so you know whether you’re ‘in’ or ‘out’.
3 Curiosity – they have curiosity about people in the Tribe (cf. the most interested man in the world!) and they are curious about those outside – they ask questions, some of them, challenging.
4 Connect – they connect people one to another. And here’s the golden quote:
“Do you know what people want more than anything? They want to be missed. They want to be missed the day they don’t show up. They want to be missed when they are gone. And Tribe Leaders can do that.”
You don’t need charisma to become a leader (though in the Christian sense, you do need charismata – the Gifts of the Spirit). Seth states that being a leader gives you charisma. Charisma comes from the leading.
5 Commit – leaders commit to the cause, they commit to the Tribe, they commit to the people who are there.
Saint Stephen challenged the status quo because he was part of a new culture – followers of ‘The Way’ – of Jesus. He was curious about the people inside this new Tribe – elected to help meet their needs by feeding the hungry – some of the members of the Tribe who were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.
In the process, this man who was, “full of God’s grace and power,” performed great wonders and signs among the people. His face, “was like the face of an angel.” What does that mean other than it was radiant? God was shining through Stephen’s face. Now, THAT’s Charisma!
As a result of opposition, we have one of the longest sermons in the New Testament – St Stephen’s speech, which you can read in Acts chapter 7. My point is, he challenged the status quo – eloquently – and was slain for it. Are you prepared to die for what you believe in? Are you prepared to live for what you believe in?
Interestingly, those who stoned Stephen laid their clothes at the feet of the ultimate Heretic-to-be, the murderer who become Saint Paul and who wrote 23.48% of the New Testament!
Ideas change history.
Check out “Comrades” – the film about the Tolpuddle Martyrs – and the most catalytic event in the history of the tribes we now call the Trades Union movement. These courageous farm labourers stood up against the status quo and ended up changing history.
One cannot resist an idea whose time has come.