I’m just past dead center of a 5-week sabbatical that was offered to me by the ministry I work with, Southside Church on the south side of Richmond, VA. I’ve been here nearly 11 years and after 10 years we say, “Take a break. 5 weeks should do it.” Believe me, I’ve enjoyed just about every second of it. It’s given me time to breathe, to rest, to reflect, and to look some of my entrenched perceptions square in the face and say, “Really?” I’m already calculating my re-entry into the atmosphere of the church and it is all-at-once exhilarating and unpretty. But unpretty in a way that testifies to the fact that the sabbatical is working. I seriously doubt this sabbatical was afforded me with the hopes that I’d return exactly the same person I was when I set my auto-response on email and voicemail and walked out nearly 3 weeks ago.
So during this time I’ve thought about lots of things and observed even more. I’ve visited places and talked with people and challenged preconceived thoughts. I’ve thought about my former self and how he went about student ministry. I imagine that guy getting canned, me knowing all the details of his years in that role, and taking up and taking on this student ministry with all that in mind. So, without further adieu, a few thoughts so far.
Excuses: I can concoct any number of excuses as to why the ministry I’m a part of isn’t what burns in my heart as the vision* I sense God has given me. Not enough leaders, not enough students, not enough money, not enough support, not enough time, not enough buy-in. Too many obstacles, too many entities vying for resources, too many opinions mucking up the progress, too many hands in the pot. But you know what? Not one of those excuses has proved its worth. They’re all a fog that fills a space but is easily walked through as if it weren’t there at all. And they’re laughing at me.
*I once heard this definition of “vision”:
“The mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction of what should be.”
Question: What excuses do you concoct? Are any of them valid? (Hint, if they were you wouldn’t have identified them as excuses.)
Laziness disguised as caution and thoughtfulness: I’m a slow processor. I’ll move slower than you want me to, I can nearly guarantee it. I would be prone to apologize for that, but that would be like a crockpot apologizing for the flavorful meal it provides after doing its thing all day. Sure it takes a while, but you’re glad for the results. Right? I don’t know. That’s just what I tell myself. But anyway this form of laziness is so sneaky because its not overt. It doesn’t look like someone sitting around doing nothing. Quite the opposite actually. This laziness might be feverishly busy, but doing the wrong thing(s) because tackling the right thing(s) is too risky. I’ve got to be careful not to be busy in activities but lazy in what matters most.
Bonus: Laziness is Selfishness. Let’s not kid ourselves. Lazy people are selfish people. When I’m lazy its because what I want has trumped what you need.
Question: What matters most to you? How close to center is it?
Over Do It or Do It Over: I was thinking about this idea two days ago when I looked at our neighbor’s yard. My teenage son had mowed it the day before. He did a great job, but because of the length of the grass and the engine getting bogged down due to the amount of grass, he opted to switch to the side discharge attachment rather than the bagger attachment. That left the cut grass strewn about in a thick layer on the lawn. In other words, it looked like a hay field the next day. I called him out and we looked at it together and agreed this was no good. We couldn’t in good conscience leave this lawn looking like that. So we essentially re-did the lawn, this time with the bagger attachment. A couple hours later, 100% better. Side discharge: easier. Bagger: better.
When a task is at hand–and I mean any task–I want to keep this mantra drumming in my mind: Over do it or do it over. This is really about understanding the full capacity of excellence and not readily settling for less than what’s possible.
Question: Where are you using the side shoot when you know you ought to use the bagger? Where can you apply the “Over do it or Do it over” concept?
I freely admit that my last blog post was longer than I imagine most people would read. So I’ll stop here and get back to my radical sabbatical. More later. Maybe.