Before you head off to enjoy another summer weekend, here are three things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week. Hope they are as meaningful to you as they have been to me.
People are either growing toward God or away from God; there is no fixed, middle position.Leading God’s People by Christopher A. Beeley
There is no status quo in our journey with God. As much as we dislike change, it is simply a fact when it comes to God. The very word used to describe God’s saving work is “good news”. The words imply a change is coming that moves us from where we are to someplace better. My reflection this week is that if change is inevitable…I’d much rather be proactive and intentional about it than reactive and dragging my heels.
5 Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; the God of gods will be seen in Zion.Psalm 84:5-7 NRSV
The promises of God contained in Psalm 84 need to be ripped from the pages and pasted on our bathroom mirror; hung on our icebox with a magnet (next to the picture of your pastor of course!); and written at the top of our journal pages. Those who walk in the Lord will be happy, bring refreshment to those along our path, and go from strength to strength. Does anyone else need to hear this as much as I did this week?
Stress and burnout are relational rather than quantitative, and are due primarily to getting caught in a responsible position for others and their problems.Failure of Nerve by Edwin Friedman
Piggybacking on the above from Psalm 84 is this quote from one of my favorite (ie. challenging) books I’ve read and regularly refer back to. Burnout in the church is a real issue. People sometimes say that they are burned out because of busyness. There is just so much on my plate is a common refrain. But, Friedman gives us another way to view burnout. He says that our to-do list does not cause burnout. Really? Rather, burnout comes from over-carrying another’s burdens. It is more about the relationships than the tasks. While we are called to carry one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2), we are also called upon to allow God to carry us carrying one another. Which is another way of saying, “don’t be confused about whose power you are doing these things.” If it is God’s power, you may get tired and need rest, which is normal, but you will not get burned out because God’s power is limitless. How do you know the difference? I think bitterness is the key attribute associated with burnout while gratitude is always associated with God’s power. If you find yourself trending toward bitterness that is a sign that you are relying on your own power rather than God’s. Being tired is being human. Being bitter may be a sign we are trying to do God’s job. And that never ends well.