At times, the temptation to quit was buried deep inside. Nevertheless, it was there.
Maybe you’ve been tempted to quit as a church leader. Perhaps you’ve been tempted to quit “full-time” ministry. Or, perhaps the temptation to quit has become even more intense. You feel discouraged in your role as husband/wife or dad/mom. Maybe you’ve been tempted to quit any sense of church life.
His writings were formative and very encouraging. On one occasion, I read his book Gracias. The book is actually a journal chronicling Nouwen’s time spent in Peru and Bolivia. Near the end of the book, he writes:
The title of this journal summarizes what I found, learned, and heard. The word that I kept hearing, wherever I went, was: Gracias! It sounded like the refrain from a long ballad of events. Gracias a usted, gracias a Dios, muchas gracias — thank you, thanks be to God, many thanks! I saw thousands of poor and hungry children, I met many young men and women without money, a job, or a decent place to live. I spent long hours with sick, elderly people, and I witnessed more misery and pain than ever before in my life. But in the midst of it all, that word lifted me again and again to a new realm of seeing and hearing: Gracias! Thanks! (Henri Nouwen, Gracias!, p. 187)
When have you felt particularly moved by someone’s gratitude? What made the situation particularly moving?
This post received 580 comments! See Rachel Gardner on “Writing a One Sentence Summary.” A very good post for anyone who attempts to write.
Hero of the year
I like this! CNN has posted their nominees for “Hero of the year.” These stories are inspiring and encouraging.
Hesitant to throw anything away?
See this piece from The New York Times. Jane Brody has written a fine post, “It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to All that Stuff. (I needed to read this!) I put a link here last week. You may have missed it. Here it is again.
If you make presentations (talks, messages, classes, sermons, and any other presentation before a group), I encourage you to visit Nancy Duarte’s website as well as Victoria Labalme’s website. Some very helpful and practical material here. I have read two of Duarte’s books, slide-ology and Resonate. Both of these books are good and were very helpful in helping me think through the creation of a presentation. Her most recent Ted talk is “The secret structure of great talks.”
Many people witnessed Michael Johnson when he won the gold in Atlanta. I remember standing in front of our television amazed at how fast this man could run.
However, I will never forget one particular Saturday morning.
Gold medalist Michael Johnson was about to run at the Hart-Patterson Track and Field Complex at Baylor University. He was running in an invitational meet. About an hour before he was scheduled to race, Charlotte and I arrived at the track and found a place to stand at the fence surrounding the track. We wanted to get as close as possible to the track to see what we would probably never see again.
Finally, the race was about to begin. The runners were at the starting blocks. The gun sounded. Off they went! In seconds, they came around the curve and very near where we stood. Johnson had already taken a commanding lead. As he passed us, I could not believe his speed. Oh my!
It was a day to remember.
Now is the perfect time for you to make your move. We know that we are coasting and accepting the status quo of our lives. Far too many people are holding back. Some of us are fearful. Others would rather play with the remote control to our televisions than really live. Consequently, we watch the next ball game instead of getting in the game ourselves.
Remember who you are. You are God’s child and Jesus’ disciple; the Holy Spirit lives and works in you.
Make your move!
- By the grace of God, give up living for yourself. Stop spending your energy on trivial pursuits
- Lean into the future. Your life has a kingdom destiny.
- Grow up into Christ. Decide that you no longer will behave childishly.
- Embrace the love that Jesus has given you. Show an incredible love to your family, friends, and neighbors.
- Stop holding back! If what you want to do is of God, he will empower you.
- Follow and obey Jesus with intention. Far too many of us aren’t counting the cost of our decisions.
- Finish well. Don’t run a great race only to slip and fall on the final turn.
What about you? Isn’t it time to make your move?
Dealing with clutter?
See Jane Brody’s piece in the NYT “It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to All That Stuff.”
See John Acuff’s post “Why are some Christians such jerks?”
Gene Weingarten has written an interesting article “Pros and Cons” in the Washington Post.
A father and son
This piece appeared on CNN about Charles and Andy Stanley, “Two preaching giants and the “betrayal” that tore them apart.”
From Travel and Leisure “World’s Scariest Bridges.”
Are you a lifelong learner?
See Lifelong Learners Live Balanced Lives, Lifelong Learners Grow Emotionally and Relationally, and Some Leaders Never Stop Learning. See also these resources for learning.
Congratulations to Dave Moore who has won in the Friday drawing for the book by Tim Keller. Dave has won a copy of Tim Keller’s new book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work. Thanks to the Penguin Group for making this possible!
Years ago, Charlotte and I were walking across a parking lot of a large church building in Kansas City. We had an appointment with a marriage therapist. This was our first visit with him.
I was nervous.
I was nervous that someone who I knew might see me. I was nervous they would find out that we were going to a counselor to talk about our marriage.
The truth is that I was more concerned about how we looked, than the reality of our our lives.
No, we were not in a crisis. We were not dealing with any sort of trauma or disaster within our marriage. But, we were dealing with an important issue.
We were stuck.
We knew we needed to make some real adjustments but we were unsure what to do.
Yet, I was not as concerned at that moment about addressing those realities as I was the appearance. I was more concerned about the possibility of another’s perception than the reality of our relationship.
This is not a good place to be. In fact, it is embarrassing to think about this now. Yet, sometimes church leaders can find themselves worrying more about a possible perception instead of addressing the reality of their lives.
Unfortunately, this can get even worse. Church leaders can attempt to control and shut down what their family members are actually experiencing.
Church leaders can communicate to their families that they need to act like everything is ok, even when it isn’t. There are some real consequences to this behavior.
Like many, I have been blessed by Tim Keller’s books. Keller’s newest book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (written with Katherine Leary Alsdorf) will no doubt be an interesting and helpful.
This Friday, one copy of this book will be given away in a drawing to readers of this blog. Don’t miss this opportunity to win a copy of this new book. You can enter this drawing by simply leaving a comment below.
In EVERY GOOD ENDEAVOR, both Christian and non-Christian readers will find insight for such important questions as:
- How do I choose a profession that fits my skills and has meaning?
- Can I stay true to my values and still advance in my field?
- How do I connect what I learn on Sunday morning with what I do the rest of the week?
- How do I make the difficult choices that must be made in the course of a successful career?
Keller writes, “work—and lots of it—is an indispensable component in a meaningful human life. It is a supreme gift from God and one of the main things that gives our lives purpose.”
Again, to be eligible for this drawing on Friday, please leave a brief comment below.
I once saw a picture of my father-in-law when he was in his twenties. He was standing next to another minister. He looked overweight and uncomfortable. His skin seemed to be a pasty white and puffy. He did not look healthy or fit at all.
Years later he reflected on those days and told me of his lifestyle. He got virtually no exercise. He hurried from one town to the next to preach weeklong revivals. If he preached on a Sunday morning, then he might stay busy all afternoon visiting with people in the congregation or town (as opposed to resting). Then before he preached that evening, feeling exhausted, he would drink several cups of coffee. He once said, “Looking back, I would have been much more effective if I had rested on those Sunday afternoons. Perhaps I could have taken a walk or gone running.”
My father-in-law had health difficulties for many years. These problems began while he was in his early thirties and continued throughout much of his life. He believed that his lifestyle as a young minister contributed to some of his early medical problems. Later, he wisely lived a more balanced and healthy life. He gently encouraged me to do the same.