Adapting to Lead
By Joan Holms | Photo By Jesse N. Love, et. al.
Editor’s Note: PNW Conference Lay Leader, Joan Holms has stepped in to write for our Bishop’s column this month in Channels! Here, Holms provides some ideas to consider on managing the ‘work’ of the church while being spiritually fed so we may take steps in developing a closer relationship with God. Happy reading!
Many years ago on Ash Wednesday, a pastor asked, “What is one thing that is preventing you from having a closer relationship with God?” It proved to be a timely question for me and I identified something I needed to change in my life in order to grow closer to God. I now take the opportunity to ask that question of myself every year during Lent.
This year, as I consider the question, I keep thinking of a current car commercial in which the actor celebrates the American virtue of hard work. The commercial touts unlike Europeans who take the whole month of August off from work, we Americans only take two weeks a year. We went to the moon and left a car there with the keys in it, because “we are the only ones going back.” We’re proud of the fact that we work hard and rest little.
So we win, right?
In some ways, the church is no different. We celebrate the person who spends great amounts of time caring for the building, leading committees, and volunteering in the community. These are all great things that we do. But if we’re not careful, we can harm ourselves with our continual activity and not realize it until we burn out.
During this season of Lent I have joined a small group of people who have committed to practice a rule of life. The “rule” includes things like, weekly worship, daily prayer and scripture reading, observing Sabbath, gathering for meals to build community…the list goes on – and my first reaction was, “This is a lot of stuff I will need to do.” Added to an already busy schedule, I felt overwhelmed before I even began.
It was only when I met with the others who were considering this practice that I remembered this was something that was meant to feed me, not burden me. I realized that community support and sharing it would be a joy, not a burden.
So often, when life gets busy and not everything can get done, it is the tasks that feed us that are the first to go. This goes back to that work ethic we learn from society. We don’t allow ourselves to have fun, find joy, build community, until all the work is done. Unfortunately, the work is never all done. But it will still be there when we return. So why not grab onto this opportunity to do something counter-cultural? At least, counter to the culture in which I live. I think this is exactly the culture that the church should promote.
So what have I identified as the thing that keeps me from having a closer relationship with God? This year, it is constant busyness. I will spend more time just spending time with God and with loved ones. I am living into this “rule” while remembering there are no hard and fast rules.
Be the Hope,
Centering prayer is an ancient Christian discipline that is part of contemplative prayer. It is a silent practice that may move individuals into a profound relationship with God. If you have ever felt like your prayer life is routine, dry, lifeless, or consists mainly of requesting things of God, learning this personal spiritual discipline may bring new insight and growth to your prayer life and result in a deeper connection with God. The kit contains a Centering Prayer workbook, prayer cards, two audio CDs and 6 DVDs. Recommended time for this is about 20 minutes twice a day. While this is an individual prayer practice, there are national organizations that sponsor retreats and web resources that can connect individual practitioners with others who practice Contemplative Prayer.