Let me start this article by admitting that it has nothing to do with finances, but it has a lot to do with our Spiritual and physical health as we serve in ministry positions and I don’t just mean “paid” positions, but also volunteer ministry positions. The catch phrase that has been rolling around in my circle of friends recently is “how are your margins?” This phrase asks, are you giving yourself some time for relaxation or are you burning the candle on both ends and in the middle all the time? I have just completed reading a number of articles and in doing so I want to ask you a couple of questions, “Are we having our most important conversation?” and “Are we having it on a consistent basis?”
Let me first of all say that these questions are not referring to your quiet time. I bet you thought that this was where I was going, no, even though that is very important. I have been challenged to engage in a conversation with my Lord on a consistent basis. I have been doing it mostly on Friday. It is the one day that I can spend some extended time with God. Remember what the Psalmist said in 139:23, “search me, O God, and know my heart!” I have said that and then gone merrily on my way. Maybe God searched me, but I never listened to what he found, so it was a waste of time.
I was reading an article by one of the leading pastoral counselors and he said that the following are the recurrent themes he hears all the time: I am exhausted….I’ve run out of ideas…..I don’t know how much longer I can keep on doing this……It seems like everybody has a piece of me and there is nothing left…..God seems to be a thousand miles away…..It’s just not fun any more. A Dutch-born Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, in one of his 40 books said, “What prevents (leaders) from becoming dull, sullen, lukewarm bureaucrats, people who have many projects, plans, and appointments, but who have lost their heart somewhere in the midst of their activities?”
I want to say that I have been having a most important conversation with my Lord on a consistent basis recently and these are some of the questions that we discuss. Let’s call these, “inner conversation starters.” Has there been meaning in the events of the week? How have I seen your presence this week? What happened this week that needs to be remembered? Here is a big one, what has been my overriding feeling this week, sadness, fear, anger, joy, fulfillment, emptiness? What have been the thoughts that have been dominating my thought life? What have you, God, been saying this week, or have I heard any thoughts? What kind of feelings do I have toward the people around me right now (this one can be scary)? Finally one more, What if today is the day that I meet you face to face, what would I say?
Pascal, the French philosopher, said in one article that I read, “All the unhappiness of men arises from one single fact that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” My interpretation, we have to be out doing something because we can’t sit still and listen to the answer to the question that I proposed earlier, “Search me, O God, and know my heart!” I believe that we would do ourselves some good if we would spend some time in conversation with our Lord and Savior on a consistent basis. Hope this wasn’t preachy, just a thought from one of the travelers on this spiritual four-lane-congested highway we call life. Thanks!