A Spiritual Biography
Jesse W. Brogan


WHAT DOES A SPIRITUAL BIOGRAPHY HAVE TO DO WITH BUSINESS MANAGEMENT?

An interesting question, but one certainly deserving of an answer. I accept the need for response as a basic point of orientation.

Management is defined as getting things done through the efforts of others. The origin for the term is from "hand", and was originally used in terms of a horse handler. To manage is to keep in hand. It doesn't imply control so much as guidance, not force so much as direction.

God may be omnipotent, but He doesn't work through power. He works by influencing people to take actions on His behalf. I cannot imagine any word more descriptive than "management" for God's interaction with us!

God is the ultimate manager. Not only does He know what He is doing, but it works. According to scripture, He is continually interested in taking on pupils - who we call disciples - to learn to manage as He manages.

Before someone branches off with some silly statement about how this has nothing to do with business, I will interject the obvious answer, "It should!" Business is based on getting things done, and God is better at that than anyone else. I find no practical reason to limit myself to learning from second- raters.

ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO TALK TO GOD?"

I realize that it's actually a silly question, but it is the world's way of trying to tar a Christian with the brush of strangeness. I start with a statement that there is nothing unusual about people talking with God. It would be strange if they did not.

On review, I find that I have had only four remarkable and intimate contacts with my Spiritual Father in my 50+ years.

God has managed me with great efficiency.

Jesse in the Beginning

My life began quietly, with a relatively sedate and peaceful family experience. I was the middle of three children in a very traditional family. A father who went off to work to earn the income which maintained the family, and a mother who stayed home to be the core of the family.

I followed Patrick, my older brother, who had Mom's first attention. He was, and remains, brilliant. The quickness and versatility of his thinking still impresses me.

Pat was a troublesome child, whose avid and insistent intellectual probing was both a delight and a concern. He did not form friendships easily, and the ones formed were not strong. He had no close peer group.

I, for my part, was easily satisfied with only one or two friends, and grew reasonably close to them.

Patrick, as the first, was given first of all things in the family.

I, quite frankly, didn't care. I was too busy living to concern myself with relative standing. In what must be most discouraging to modern psychology, I recognize no sense of competition with Pat. I found out only many years later that he was actually concerned about me in this regard. I was so far removed from this that I was rather surprised by it. I hadn't previously considered it.

Pat and I were so different as not to be in conflict. We cared for different things. We had different interests. His intellect was a flash which took in everything at a gulp; while I had a slow and methodical intellect which probed and sampled until it built up a detailed understanding.

My first few years of life flowed gently and almost passively, taking a significant turn only in about the second grade at school. I was a bright child, and studious in a way which I now realize to be most unusual. I would read to learn. There was nothing I wouldn't tackle. I had a natural ability to concentrate which was obviously beyond that of my peers.

The ability to concentrate would be called abnormal in today's war of labels. I could shut out the noise of my surroundings, so completely that I wouldn't even hear the teacher trying to speak to me.

I have seen the same sort of concentration in my son, and have had medical practitioners hint that it might be "autism." So much for my respect for those who know only what is abnormal, but are unable to see what is useful.

In one sense, my ability to concentrate began my spiritual life as a person, it allowed me to wander from my parents in a way that only I really understood. I would concentrate, and the rest of reality disappeared. I could day-dream, and what I saw or created was fascinating and complete. I could visualize.

From one early memory (probably about age four), I know when I first realized I was smart. Mom, who was very handy with tools, was working with a board; when I noticed the rings showing around a knot. I told her that it was where the branch grew out (it seemed obvious to me at that time).

She questioned me as to who had told me that, it was a response I found most frustrating. I realized at that time that I had make a connection which was unusual. Unable to address it further (my communication skills were very much undeveloped) I internalized. It was to be many years before I would address my observations to Mom again. I withdrew.

I was very early impressed with planning. I remember being fascinated as the family prepared for a trip to visit Grandma Brower. I watched in amazement as one thing after another went into the car, each with its purpose, and all of it to be used along the way or after we arrived.

In another sense, I was alone as few children are alone. I did not expend any substantial effort in seeking out peers, or trying to impress adults. I was concentrating on doing what I did best - learning and dreaming. My memories of grade school are better than most, for it was fertile ground for what I did best.

Amazingly, I wasn't all that good a student. I was too interested in learning. I wasn't satisfied with what was important to the school or the teachers, but was learning all that there was to learn. I did not learn what others wanted me to learn, and so I earned average grades. It has left me with a clear understanding of some of our needs for educational improvement which seem vague for most others.

I distinctly remember when I was brought up short for my day-dreaming during school. It was in the third grade, and was embarrassing enough to bring me more into line as a serious student.

I don't think I tested well either. I would score in the mid 120's on IQ tests, though looking back I see that I probably should have tested higher.

My interests were generally solitary or with one of my few but fairly close friends. I learned to fish and loved it. I liked to hike in the local fields and woods. I did well in the quiet.

If there was anything really unusual about me, it would have to be that I was not disturbed by being alone. In a sense, I welcomed the quiet time. I did not feel any desperate need to be with other people, but defined myself in other ways.

Our family was churched. For most of my formidable years, I attended a small Methodist church, where I was confirmed into the faith with the help of friends and neighbors.

As I suppose is true of all children, my faith had little in it that might be called intellectual. It was something which was there because it was. No further explanation was provided, nor was any sought.


Jesse as a Young Man

As a teenager, I found my position in the church changing without any real benefits from the change. I looked to the adult sunday school, and it was the same as that for the older young folks. There was nothing more.

I found that there was little for me in continuing my presence in the church. I was no longer learning, and not progressing in any direction. The teaching was not different, except for the new attitude toward me as "mature in the faith" which I was most certainly not.

My interests were changing. The wonderful stories of our faith were the same, but I was only picking up scraps of understanding from them from the endless repetition. I still didn't need anyone to spur me on, but neither was I ready to be bottle fed by people who knew no more than I. I drifted away from the active practice of the faith, and ceased to attend.

Looking back on this leaving, and how the youth leave today, eventually lead to the realization that my experience was not unique. It is common to have youth drift away from the faith at just this time. The forces which were at work in my life were not unusual.

When that side of my faith was wandering out, another was wandering in. This time it was logic, the power of manipulating understandings and concepts to gain a better view of the complex and changing world in which I found myself.

I found that I had an absolute gift for the area. My slow and insistent intellectual efforts were rewarded with results. Where most people seemed to get caught up in semantics, and were unable to overcome their own local definitions for terms, I could easily accept the terms as others presented them. I had an intellectual freedom which is denied to most.

Another interesting influence is found in athletics. I had excellent physical strength, good endurance, and a natural quickness. I took up the sport of wrestling.

It remained a passion with me well into my college years, and I was quite successful. Many spiritual lessons were learned in a way that they have stayed with me.

I am an able person, and when I put myself forward based on ability, I will be successful.

I am going to be rejected in favor of others in areas of popularity. Others will be selected for benefits over me wherever it is possible.

I am spiritually divergent. I will not be understood, and will receive little support from any group. The support I get will be from individuals who are in the group.

I have little interest in overcoming, and my competitive interests are far less than those of others. I am insulated as few of my peers.

Religion was one obvious point of focus for my developing abilities for logical analysis. Now in my late high school and early college years, I looked at the faith from this new perspective.

What I found disturbed me. The basis of the faith of many seemed tied up in sets of logical arguments for or against the existence of God.

I took one look at them, and cast them all away. They were uniformly based on the premise which they were to prove, meaning that they were logically of no effect. I realized that the faith systems maintained by a substantial part of our civilization is built of straw.

I gave my position a name, "logical agnosticism." It wasn't that I did not believe, but that I had found no logical basis for belief. There was no foundation in logic. The available proofs were illogical.

I also took my first look at the scriptures as material for logical analysis. It was a humbling experience due to the vastness and complexity of the effort. I was patently unable to resolve the obvious inconsistencies. These were so great and so pervasive that I didn't even have a good approach to seeking resolution. I soon abandoned the effort due to my own inability, and pursued avenues which provided more immediate results.

From this point, I continued development of my skills at handling logical systems, entire groups of interdependent understandings which people treated as a unified decision basis.

Toward the end of my highschool years, I experimented briefly with psychic phenomena, and discovered that the only remarkable talent I had was as a touch sensitive. I could concentrate upon another person, and they would feel my attention. I could feel myself touch them, and they would feel that touch. Further, I knew when they felt it; there was a psychic response.

I found it both fascinating and a little disturbing. The idea that I could intrude was not a comfort.

I also noted that this touch carried identity, but very little ability to pass information. I could sometimes "get" impressions, but had no ability to pick and choose, or to search for information by criteria.

In later years, I was to discover that my wife and I shared touch information in the area of taste. I would often know what she had a taste for, and she seemed aware of my interests.

Still further, there appeared to be no barrier between life and death in the realm of touch. To this touch, a person is like a symbol rather than a personality; and touch is just as easy with someone who has died as someone who is alive.

Again, I found it fascinating, but a little disturbing. It was not something I pursued.


Jesse as an Independent Man

After I had been out on my own working for several years, I received a most unusual call. I was engaged in my customary practice of logical analysis: finding a subject, researching it, and worrying over what could be learned - much as a dog worries over a bone.

The call was a ripple in the calm. I had begun work on some subject now long out of memory, when I began to hear the subject all around me. I heard it being discussed by friends and acquaintances. I heard it on live radio. I heard it in recorded works.

It was an irritant. I switched to a new subject (perhaps just to be contrary). To my surprise, the subjects seemed to change for everyone else as well. I was again hearing commentary from all sides on a subject I thought I picked almost at random.

When it happened a third time, I knew something was out of place, and looked at the logical options:

1. I could be mistaken as to my observations.
2. I could have been projecting so that everyone else followed me.
3. I could have been influenced by everyone else, and be picking up on what others were thinking.
4. There could be interference by an active agent which wanted to get my attention.

I checked the first by close observation when I switched subjects again, and the reflected change in my immediate environment was not something to be mistaken. It was beyond any reasonable probability.

I looked at the second, and was unable to project an idea on others even when I concentrated. This was repetition of earlier experimentation, and I accepted that I had made no significant change in this area. It most unlikely that I was somehow unconsciously effecting people around me. And even then, we were talking about radio and television shows recorded weeks, months, or even years before. There was no way I could pre-effect everyone else.

The same observation, that it was also recorded television and radio, indicated that the phenomena went far beyond me picking up on thoughts or subjects projected by others.

By elimination, I accepted the fourth, that there was an active agency at work getting my attention. From the immediate facts, I knew that this agency was intimately interested in me as an individual. I knew that it was tremendously knowledgeable about me, others, and the world in general; and had ability to make things happen.

I did the only thing a logical person could do, and greeted my Lord in recognition of what He had done to reach into my private world. Such a caring call might possibly be rejected, but there is no way that it can be ignored.

There was nothing which I might call a positive response, and none was really expected. In answer, the phenomena stopped as abruptly as it had started, and has not returned. This was confirmation that one of the primary effects to be achieved (from what seemed an impossible effort) centered around me. I accepted it as such, and went forward.

I specifically note that there was no effort to direct me to any other pursuit. There was no demand for something to be done, or forbidding of activities. It was simply a demand to recognize someone who had abilities that I could see, but not fathom or understand.

In retrospect, it was that same one clear Godly message which has been from the beginning: "I AM". It was not logical, but went beyond any logic system. It was not rational, but ultimately and intimately personal.

Soon, I looked back through my experience, and found a guiding hand had been there. It wasn't as if I had ever been pulled up short or stopped, or that I had somehow been given a direction to pursue. Still, I could see how I was gently and insistently redirected to channels which kept me growing and out of difficulties. I came to thank God for his care.

It is most interesting that there were no requirements, no duties, no judgment. I was just the one who was called to recognize God as one source of who I had become.


Jesse: Husband and Father

Several years passed. I was married to a good Christian woman, who I would say had been destined for me, and I had resumed organized worship in the Lutheran tradition as an adult member.

My interest in the scriptures was again kindled. By this time, however, my logical gifts had matured and my patience increased. I began a long and effective study of the Bible.

The complexity and illogic was still obvious, even more so than I remembered; but I was determined to make sense of it. I looked for the sources of inconsistencies, and found one major and irresolvable dichotomy within the scriptures. There was a world view, and a spiritual view; and the two could not coexist within any logical framework.

The world view was hardened into an unyielding set of rules, often unwritten, which governed what a man might do. One set of things were insisted upon, another forbidden. The spiritual view seemed unconcerned with the world, and was interested in the person.

I began looking to authority to gain resolution, and immediately found a key which was acceptable in both logical frameworks. They both agreed that the source of all truth, including the scriptures, was God Himself.

Following the general rules of law for handling evidence, I looked to the words and witness of Jesus as a basis for core truths. I would measure everything else against that core.

Imagine my confoundment when I discovered that the primary confusion was between the word-and-witness of Jesus and most everything else. Worse still, many of our most revered religious concepts seemed based upon that "everything else in scripture" which conflicted with our Lord's teaching.

I found myself alone as I had not been alone before. As a Christian, I was unable to stay where I was. But all I knew was what was wrong, not how to fix it; and not what might replace it as something better. Showing what I had learned would only cause confusion and discontent to the one on whom I dumped; which could have no value as a product of a Christian life. As a Christian, I was unable to really do anything but plod on.

I was in a dilemma. It was time to step back, and look at everything from a new perspective. As an engineer, I began the study of those things which would lead to making disciples of all nations.

It was at this time that I had a vision, and not like other visions I had read of. It was no blinding flash, no sudden message out of the blue. It was rather a gradual unfoldment of something masquerading as a day-dream.

But if it was a day-dream, it wasn't mine. It was unlike what I dreamed, it was different. It took months to form fully, and it had neither my undivided involvement nor did it accept any attempt I made to exercise control or supervision.

I was a passive participant in the scene which unfolded. I felt much like an I imagine an actor feels when watching a movie in which he has been given some part.

The upshot was actually pretty clear, though it seemed to lack any local and immediate application. I was to carry light (something I received) into dark places. I was to be a path lighter.

Looking back, I had to agree that I had been amply prepared for such a Christian direction. In my walk of faith, I was used to walking alone. Indeed, I had to walk alone on my present efforts to avoid damage to the beliefs of others.

A few months later, I was approached by our Pastor with a request to chair the evangelism effort at our church. I did not hesitate before agreeing. The proximity to the vision seemed far too obvious to be by chance.

I was not what I consider to be a good evangelism chairman. I was interested in evangelism more than membership, and had too little respect for my own ideas. The church did not grow, neither did I increase its activities as a center of faith. My one best contribution, THE CHRISTIAN WHITE PAPER ON YOUNG LOVE, was accepted without interest. The pastor even attempted to fit it into the mold of those many things which don't achieve any outreach, and found that it did not really fit. It was quietly ignored.

In the spirit, before I left the position, I had one of my many discussions with that gentle man who was the Pastor. I told him, "This church will not grow on the outside until it has grown on the inside."

From my standpoint, the direction I received was not for the benefit of the church I served, so much as for myself. I was encouraged to continue my quest for discipling. I was placed in a position where I accepted it as an obligation. I was still that dog with a bone, and I have continued to worry over it.

As has been the pattern of my interests, I have continued the work which was seriously begun in that position as an evangelism chairman at a moderate sized local church. I have continued the study of outreach and discipling.


Jesse as a Disciple

My main problem with addressing Christianity to others is that I must also address our faith's past and continuing failure; a message others would rather not receive. No matter how many centuries of skill, care and effort have been expended, there is no answer for that final indictment.

We make precious few disciples.
We don't teach what Jesus taught.

If you question the first, an increase of one percent a year from the original 12 to today would have disciples exceeding the population of the human race.

If you question the second, think back on the last time that the Gospel of the Kingdom was preached to you. That Gospel, not the parables or the healings was the spiritual cornerstone of our Lord's ministry.

The organized faith is doing wonderful things, but they aren't the making of disciples or the teaching of what Jesus taught. They are calling the faithful and teaching scriptural truths.

I note that our failure isn't something new, but was from before the formal church began. The shift of emphasis from discipling to calling the faithful starts with Jesus ascension. The teaching of what Jesus taught (such as the gospel of the Kingdom) is turned off at the same point. The church has been in a state of planned failure from its beginning.

One of the most unforgiving rules of engineering is that nothing changes unless you change something. If we continue as we are, we will continue the failure. All of the good intentions in the world are insufficient to turn one hair black or white.

With this as a foundation, I have sought and studied the process and process requirements for the making of disciples. I find that it is intimately involved with teaching what Jesus taught - lessons which are as unpopular today as they were during his earthly ministry.

While I had been given no specific goal or place that I was to fill, the implication of the few direct experiences I have had with God have set a path for me with exactness. I just don't know the distance I am to travel.

From my standpoint, the distance is irrelevant. If God is with me in my walk, I will not fall short of the mark. Where I might try to go beyond, it will not prosper.

I am an explorer, an adventurer who has been set into a dark place with a sure compass, and told that my goal is that-a-way. I don't know where it all ends up, but I'm on my way.


Jesse and Christian Management

Discipleship is a fascinating study. It is 90 degrees out of phase with our current religious practices, being relatively disinterested in truth, light, or the welfare of people. It is focussed on God Himself, and on emulating God so far as we, as humans, are able.

This provides a bridge to a new study. Where past attempts at Christian business has focussed on bible lessons and techniques ("you don't muzzle the ox which treads the grain") the Christian manager looks to the person of God and what God does.

It is a different ministry, one which recognizes two distinct and equally viable means of worship. The worker worships by obedience, by doing what he or she is told to the glory of God. The manager worships by emulation, by observing what God does and trying to do likewise.

Christian management is a restricted form of discipleship. The Christian manager seeks to be in charge in the same sense as God takes charge of those things which He does through men.

The step from the larger study of discipleship to the study of Christian management is a small one.

 



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This biography is the product of OEE, and is personal to Jesse Brogan. General or commercial republication is not permitted without permission from Jesse Brogan.


This article is a product of Jesse Brogan, disciple; and was last updated 20 June 1996

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