Last Saturday was the wedding of one of my four daughters on a farm in upstate New York. The music, the dancing, the great celebration with family and friends left me breathless. It was one of the most fabulous days of my life. The wedding was also flawed. Despite 10 months of planning, a great deal of money, and lots of work, the wedding was not perfect. Think about it: All vacations are imperfect. The best church is very imperfect. Every one of our children is imperfect. Our parenting is imperfect. The best employee is imperfect. The best leader whom we idealize is imperfect. The most perfect physical body is imperfect. The most wonderful spouse is imperfect. The greatest love making is imperfect. Do the best you can and let it go. If the whole world were given you, you would still say, “It is too little.” Why? You were made for a perfect. Read more.
Like most leaders I tend to work too much. My family didn’t do play. We worked hard. I naturally bought this into my leadership for Christ over the last 25 years at New Life. Jurgen Moltmann’s, A Theology of Play (out of print of course), has the best theology I have read on this topic. The following are his few nuggets of gold from his book as described in Ben Witherton III ‘s, The Rest of Life: 1. Play foreshadows the joy of the eschaton where all manner of drudgery and disease and decay and death will be left behind. It is not useless activity. 2. Play is a celebration of life lived to its fullest. 3. In play we emulate God’s actions who did not create the universe because it was a necessity. God is playful. He enjoys creating and playing. 4. “Play relativizes our ‘over-seriousness’ toward life, filling us with a spirit of joy. Read more.
I recently finished Ruth Haley Barton’s Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry (IVP,2008). I enjoyed it thoroughly and found a number of valuable insights for my own leadership at New Life. I recommend it to you. One unique insight was to clearly articulate the values of your leadership team as you enter into challenging, difficult discussions. The following is my first draft for our NLF staff team (Her team’s can be found on pp.176-178 of her book). 1. Personal Spiritual Transformation – We consistently labor to maintain balance in our lives as leaders, ensuring that we have time for prayer, rest, healthy relationships (play) and work. Our rhythms are our first work and foundational for both our lives and leadership. 2. Community – We are a microcosm of the larger New Life and seek to maintain and build unity in our relationships as Christ did with the Twelve. While the work itself can easily distract us away. Read more.
My family growing up was never very good at delight, play, and enjoying the healthy, God-given pleasures of life. Added to this was a Christian formation in my early years that reinforced a subtle theology that the more you suffered for Christ, then the more loved you were by Him. We were to work, to do for Christ, especially among those of us serving in urban centers like New York City. The journey of emotional health and contemplative spirituality have helped me enormously, but it has been a long, slow process of growth. I am slowly getting there, learning to enjoy pleasure, gifts, fun, dance, wine, and celebrating! I’ve just completed The Good of Affluence by John Schneider, a professor of theology out of Calvin College in West Michigan. I do not agree with all he says, but he makes a number of excellent points. One, humans were designed by God to enjoy and. Read more.