Those who are in a hurry delay the things of God.
For the past decade of my life, busy has picked up during the summer months. Whether it was summer camps or internships, the sumer was when ministry kicked into high gear for me. Not so this summer. Part of the ebb and flow of many congregations is the reality that the church runs on the school year's schedule for the most part. My new church is no different. Things have crept to an almost halt. Giving and attendance are down. Committees are taking the summer off, or forgetting scheduled meetings. Though I had several big events on the calendar for study leave, I had nothing significant in terms of events to deal with this summer. I had the summer ahead of me to plan, pray and prepare....
... and I hated it! I came into this summer determined to keep myself busy. I was ready to pound the pavement, introduce the neighbors to the church, and make as many connections in my new city as possible.
Some of that has happened, but a funny thing happened on the way to my first "create your own agenda" summer. Actually, a funny combination of things. My wife went back to work and our child care provider has had health issues, first with her son and then with her own health. Ok, I guess the health issues aren't funny "ha ha", but my point is that this summer so far has been filled with a busyness that I didn't expect. That busyness has come from the combination of trying to get a handful of things accomplished in my lightened summer schedule while balancing care for my son. Funny how when those things come into direct opposition, the winner is pretty clear. My church has yet to cry for my attention.
So, I've been slowed down. I've been forced to prioritize in a way that offers no real alternatives. I haven't been as "productive" as I had hoped to be over the last few weeks.
... and it's been great. It's been great for the obvious reason that my son is remarkably fun to be around (he gets that from his mother), but it's also been great in that I've been forced to acknowledge a few things about myself.
1) I'm tired. I went from last summer at the Project to job hunting with a pregnant wife, to moving with a pregnant wife, to starting a new job to having a new child to balancing a new job and a new baby. My week of vacation after Easter was filled with family members flooding into the hospital. My most "restful" week in months was my study leave and that was with a schedule that was packed to the gills with activity. I've probably been sick a half dozen times in last few months, but I haven't given myself the luxury of time to tend to myself. Having my pace dictated to me by my little one has thrown my exhaustion back into my face.
2) I can't control much. Sure. Intellectually, I know that all the time, but I tend to act as if what I am doing will hold off the apocalypse just a bit. Truth be told, ministry happens when I am drained and not available. It happens when people are ignoring my sermons to tend to the needs of ailing people in the pews around them. It happens when people have epiphanies based off what they thought they heard me say and not what I actually said. Life is changed when I realize that my plans were too small and that I was expecting too little of myself and others. I control so very little.
3) Being a father is higher vocation than being a pastor. Again, maybe I've always known that.
4) I'm impatient. Even now I'm wishing I would finish this damn post already. God's timing is truly not mine. God slows down when I want to rush and then speeds to the point that I can barely hang on. I'll always want things to happen more quickly than they do, but when I'm aware of that particular weakness, sometimes I'm conscious enough to slow down and take in the beauty around me and not focus so much on the future. My son forces me to do that.
I've developed a practice recently of beginning worship by reading a Psalm. I caught myself this week. Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God". I heard myself reading it this past Sunday. As I was reading I also heard the implied "Be still and know that you are not God, Dumbass!"
Those who are in a hurry delay the things of God. We delay them because we waste time being God. First we have to come to the realization, then the work of not being God can begin.
Here's to a summer of being busy with not being God.