In the aftermath of of watching THE SHACK project blow-up into a costly legal battle, lots of people have asked me why I continue to collaborate with others. I get asked that a lot as people look through A Man Like No Other, where three people came together to put words to art that would celebrate a life of Jesus that is not always unveiled in our religious interpretations of him. The fact is, I love relationships and the synergy of producing something together. When people truly bring their gifts to the table and with humility seek to bring their best ideas together, there is nothing more powerful or energizing. I understand why Jesus sent the disciples out in twos and why God himself embraces his own community with such love and joy.
I realize that some people will abandon a collaboration as soon as they get their benefit out of it. When anyone needs to control the fruits of the collaboration and ceases to continue celebrating it as a gift among friends, it will turn incredibly painful. It has often been said that so much much more would get done if people were not concerned with who gets the credit. Unfortunately, there will always be those who will consider the credit more valuable than the friendship.
While that’s tragic it doesn’t sour me on the joys of collaboration. The truth is most of the people I’ve collaborated with on various projects stay true to their word and continue to share the fruits as they did the labor. Simply, I believe the things we talked about in our podcast on The Collaborative Life, namely that God exists in a community and he is all about bringing selfish, independent humans into that community and then teaching them how to share it with others. When humble hearts work together a greater wisdom shows through than anyone can produce working alone.
But that doesn’t mean I would say the pain of it going bad is worth it. It never is. It is always devastating when people betray others in their own quest for independence. But isn’t that the reality of the broken creation? Many have endured the betrayal of a spouse, the dishonesty of a business partner, or the manipulation of a colleague at work or “in ministry”. I hear those stories all the time and hurt for the victims. And I shake my head at the excuses some use to justify their agenda.
The truth is, promises are cheap. They are only valuable when they are fulfilled, especially when it isn’t easy and when others say they aren’t really that important. Character is demonstrated when people actually honor them. Fortunately I know lots of people like that too. Just because some might cheat on their spouses or dishonor their own word doesn’t mean I still can’t feast on the joy and faithfulness of my marriage, and the tastes of community and collaboration that God might still want to give me in this life. It’s also why I continue to encourage others to embrace the reality of community even if it painful at times.
If the abuse of something makes you discount it, then you’ve lost something beautiful. Just because someone uses a hammer to hit me over the head, doesn’t mean I can’t use that same hammer to build a bridge.