Few times in the year present more pressure and stress than the week before Christmas and Easter. In fact, the demands feel so overwhelming that we often lose our own center in Jesus. So allow me to offer, in a few words, three reminders that may help you this week: Jesus wants you more than your leadership. You were called. Chosen. You didn’t initiate your discipleship. He did. Why? First, to be with you, to enjoy loving union with you. Any work we do for him is to flow from that place. The Eastern Orthodox church, historically, has placed a healthy emphasis on breathing and prayer as a tangible way to abide in Jesus. Close your eyes for a few seconds now. Inhale and exhale slowly, and allow his love to wash over you. Jesus is building his church – not you. Jesus said: I will build my church and the gates of hell. Read more.
It is hard to be a Christian at Christmas, especially if you are a pastor or leader. These are at least five mistakes that we often make: We skimp on our time with Jesus in our work for Jesus. We speak of profound spiritual realities, but our hearts slowly shrink because we have so much to do. We become perfectionistic. We forget that to be human is to make mistakes. Eugene Peterson says it well: “Perfectionism is a perversion of the Christian way. To impose it on either oneself or another…is decidedly not the way of Jesus.” We do more than God asks. When we do more than God asks, we open the door for all kinds of disorder and chaos. We engage in faulty thinking. Mark Twain once said, “It isn’t what you don’t know that hurts you; it is what you know that isn’t so.” We forget our greatest gift is who. Read more.
Every year we experience a marked increase of activity around Christmas. We have our own families to attend to (thinking through and buying of gifts), our co-workers and staff, our churches’ additional services and the normal stuff of life (e.g. food shopping, laundry, car break-downs). This time of year only accentuates our need for increased differentiation and less fusion from the forces seeking to shape us. Consider what, I believe, is God’s order for us as we shape our lives and time. 1. God. It was Heidegger who made the distinction between waiting “for” and waiting “upon” Waiting for involves looking for a specific, concrete result. Waiting upon involves allowing insight and direction to emerge, an openness to whatever God has. I spent a good portion of my day alone with God yesterday meditating on Ps. 123:1-2. The most loving thing we can do for those around us is withdraw for our rhythms with God and to wait upon the Lord. Read more.