Going the distance

Next week I’ll be with a  bunch of camp people, reflecting on what it takes to ‘last’ in ministry–or, for that matter, to do well in any environment for the long haul. Several ideas come to mind…

1. It takes faith. Specifically,  faith that looks back to remember what God has already done. It’s so easy to forget–as the history books of the Old Testament show, with their too-many stories of people wandering away from God. Seems to me that one important component of faith is memory–that is, remembering what the One we say we are trusting has already done, and holding fast to the conviction that He will keep coming through.

2. It takes a livable pace. Ministry has a way of faking you out, making you think that somehow, you have to give your all, all the time. Sure, sacrifice is called for, but very rarely does the Lord ask people to die by their own hand. And yet that’s what some ‘in ministry’ seem to be angling for, with the insistence on being busy all/most of the time. In talking about pace, I want to think about rest (as in Sabbath, for instance), but I also want to look a bit at the habits we feed–because my sense is that we create patterns that can look really spiritual, but end up causing harm. I think it might be a good idea to examine our schedules to see how we invest our resources (time, energy, money), and whether any of the behaviors that are habitual actually contribute to our demise (sooner or later).

3. It takes relationships. Almost too much to cover on this point…. Maybe it’s enough to reference the different kinds of relationships we’re part of, and zero in on one batch–like our professional relationships. Hard to escape interactions with a  boss, or with those who report to us: how do we operate in these relationships so that all concerned remain healthy? And what about more ‘optional’ connections, such as those with peers, or people we might mentor? In the former case, I think one of the big deals is figuring out how to be colleagues more than competitors. With the latter, we want to duck the inclination to impose all of our hard-earned wisdom, in favor of asking really good questions.

And somewhere in this category, it’s probably important to talk about what things look like at the front end of a career (it is good to bear the yoke while you’re young, Jeremiah says), and at the back. For instance, what does it take to step aside gracefully, and make room for the next batch of young punks? But they’ll change things! we protest. Of course they will: this is the way of our world, and part of the normal cycle. Didn’t we who are older now do the same? And what happens if we don’t make room for the next crowd?

There’s at least one more topic to consider, but that’s for a  later post…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s