It’s a rare occurrence that I am caught up with everything. Truthfully it has never happened. Yet I am about as close to that elusive status as I have ever been. I simply need to finish this article, then fix the downstairs toilet. For the first time in my life I will have achieved this state of grace, at least for a few hours. I’m sure something will occur by day’s end which will have me desperately flapping to keep my head above water once again. Most likely the downstairs toilet.
I have all the bulletins and services planned till the end of the year. This includes the Power Point presentations we use at Blue Hill. It accounts for the children’s program, choir and Lord’s Acre service at my Bladen church. There is the Thanksgiving Eve service which Blue Hill shares with St. Paul Lutheran. It’s at St. Paul this year so I don’t have to do any planning, just give the sermon.
I have even had time to work in my shop and build two cutout yard decorations for Christmas which I have put off for the last 3 years. They will be displayed in our yard after Thanksgiving, replacing an inflatable Santa which no longer remains upright, suggesting that the overblown elf may be inebriated with holiday Ho Ho Ho.
The new displays are holiday moose which we have named Ben and Jerry. (By the way there is no plural for moose. I tried to use Meese but my spellchecker auto corrects.) I also have plans for a nativity group, angels, wisemen and camels. Though I have searched the internet from Amazon to Esty, I cannot find any shepherds. Let me know if you can help. Eventually these silhouette cutouts will replace my depleting troop of inflatables.
It’s nice to have some leisurely time and stay busy in my shop. It is the thing I do which provides for my “self-care”. The conference encourages us pastors to take care of ourselves and so provides seminars, classes and webinars that take up what little time we ministers have for relaxing.
In ministry it is sometimes difficult to separate personal activities from professional. There is no timeclock for pastors, and you tend to take relaxing activities when you can get it. I am the sort of person who needs to stay busy. I am troubled when I look back on my day and don’t feel I have accomplished anything. So, when there is leisure time, I try to be productive. It is satisfying to have accomplished something tangible each day.
I remember when I had a normal job working 8 to 10 hours, Monday to Friday with no weekends. A predictable work schedule made life easier to plan and detach personal time from professional time. There was a distinct separation that allows people to shift gears, change from suit and tie to blue jeans and tee shirts.
It doesn’t work the same for ministers nor for Christians. We cannot be devout and righteous on Sunday and be otherwise the rest of the week. Despite the growing perception of hypocrisy among the “nones” (Those who list “none” as their religious affiliations) towards the “church people”, I believe most faithful Christians try to live their lives according to scripture. It is difficult to remember that discipleship is a fulltime job. And we often seek other forms of self-care.
Perhaps we make a mistake in trying to divide our lives into separate periods of work and leisure, as if one must counter the other. It would be nice if we found the same satisfaction in our work as we do in our rest. Granted, fixing a toilet is not as enjoyable as worship or woodworking, but the attitude we have doing any task, whether labor or leisure, is what make life rewarding.
Christianity is not a demographic or social identity. We do not check it off on a form or questionnaire. God’s gift of salvation, forgiveness, and Grace should be the underpinning of our lives and the impetus of our engagements in the world. Whether we are overwhelmed by work and obligations or have ample time for “self-care” we can never stop being Christians.
Jesus never stopped being Jesus even when he wanted to seek rest from his work. He was still Jesus when he was angry at his friends for their lack of faith or pursuit of worldly values. He was Jesus when he pleaded for his life at Gethsemane and then accepted the Father’s will in the same heartbeat.
We are Christians whether we are at work or ease. Our Christian values apply in church, at work and at home. Regardless of what we do each day, living our lives in faithful submission to God’s gifts should always guide our action. Whether relaxing or working, in a suit or blue jeans, in front of a computer or table saw, our work should be guided by the teaching of Jesus and the application of God’s gift of Grace.
A few years ago, I printed an article in my blog, sharegodsgrace.co. Entitled “Attitude”, I occasionally read it when mine needs adjustment.
It’s reprinted here in the hope that it will help other to put their lives in perspective. Please enjoy and have a happy, joyous and blessed Advent season.
There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. ‘Well,’ she said, ‘I think I’ll braid my hair today.’ So she did and she had a wonderful day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.
‘H-M-M,’ she said, ‘I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.’ So she did and she had a grand day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.
‘Well,’ she said, ‘today I’m going to wear my hair in a ponytail.’ So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.
The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and
noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head.
‘YAY!’ she exclaimed. ‘I don’t have to fix my hair today!’
Attitude is everything.
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Pastor Dan and Debbie