Friday, May 17, 2013

Ministry is Not For The Superhuman

Mike Emlet reflects on Zack Eswine's book on pastoral ministry, Sensing Jesus, and our tendency to want to be omnipotent and omnipresent.
So what does it look like to lean against the temptation to be “everywhere-for-all”? 

  • Frame your day with pauses that remind you of your absolute dependency on God and ground you in the present. Eswine suggests using the time-honored tradition of breaking the day into four portions—morning, noon, evening, night—and pausing at the beginning and end of each period of time to pray and read Scripture for a few minutes. Although my consistency in this discipline waxes and wanes, I can attest to how it acts as a speed bump to what would otherwise be a frenetic, prayerless, and unreflective day.
  • Focus on the here and now as you meet with people. Truly attend to the people in front of you—their words, smiles, grimaces, and furrowed brows. So much of interpersonal ministry is being with a person, not arriving at a destination. We are like children on a long car ride who whine, “Are we there yet?” while missing the glory of the ordinary passing scenery, not to mention the blessing (OK, sometimes!) of being together as a family.
  • Learn to value the ordinary, “exult in monotony” (66). If you don’t do this, you miss much of daily life! Without those eyes to see and ears to hear, it’s no wonder the here and now feels insufficient and the whisper to be somewhere else for someone else beckons. Can you smell the sautéed asparagus? Feel the warmth of your child’s hand? See the impish grin of one of the preschoolers in your Sunday School class? Taste the bitter goodness of that first swallow of morning coffee? Savoring these ordinary moments, gifts from God for a given place and time, reminds us that he will give us what is needful for the moments of ministry as well.
  • Go to bed! “Sleep is a Sabbath-like act. We rest from it all and leave it all for God’s keeping while we lie motionless in the world for a while” (80). Honestly, this is hard for me. While I don’t have the stamina of twenty years ago, I still am often driven by an everywhere-for-all mentality that trades sleep for the diminishing returns of working late.

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