So, if you’re new (or old) to the blog, then you’ve noticed that I have been writing more. Writing with a great frequency is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but simply haven’t set up the time for. I’ve started to budget the time and have done a decent job at keeping it. So, for those who do read this blog with any regularity: I have a question for you.
What are some of the best things that I can write about? What are the posts that you find most beneficial? Why types of things do you want to hear? (Ok, those were questions, but they all orbit around the same idea.)
I wrote on Monday on some of my observations about going through a reading plan, memory plan, and preaching plan as a church. I forgot to mention another area where we aligned: our small group discussion. Our groups that meet throughout the week do not have to do a discussion guide that is synced up with the sermon text, but it is provided for them should they want to.
But that isn’t why I’m writing today. Today I wanted to write about a follow-up thought that shows another angle of this aligned approach. This whole plan has been a great discipline for me in how I think about preaching, and I believe it has been good for our church, but there is another side to pursuing corporate disciplines like this and then how to apply it pastorally:
At Genesis, we are going through the F-260 together. This is a Bible reading plan put out by the great folks at Replicate Ministries. The plan covers five days of reading, generally two chapters per day, and goes through the story of Scripture chronologically.
Along with the reading plan, we are memorizing passages together as a church, and I am preaching a passage every Sunday that we’ve read the prior week (a strategy the Replicate folks had discussed as a way to get more people motivated to stick with the reading plan).
You can see a glimpse of how all that fits together on our website. Now that we are a little more than three months into 2019, I wanted to give a few thoughts on how the process has been.
Note: This was supposed to go out tomorrow, but tomorrow is Good Friday and I decided to post it a day early. Enjoy.
So, without really planning it, this week has become a little series. It started more observationally than anything. On Monday, I wrote about how I did very little to be where I am—it was God’s doing. I followed that up on Wednesday with a post about why grace is such a difficult concept. I figured to try and conclude this accidental series today with a way to hold these ideas together—to provide some type of balance (even though I hate that phrase and view much of my life as imbalanced).
On the one hand I did little/nothing to be where I am. I am humbled regularly. The greatest gifts in life that I have received are really gifts form God (Jas 1:16-17). On the other hand I did do work of one kind or another. Jobs don’t work themselves. Degrees don’t earn themselves. Children don’t discipline themselves (though that would be nice). So what gives? How can we think about it?
Earlier this week, I wrote about how there is very little in this life that I actually did by my own strength. In fact, the things that perhaps I should be credited for are usually the things that go poorly. If I just slow down—if I just take time to reflect on where I am in life—I can see that it had little to do with my own power and might. With just a tiny bit of perspective I can see that my strength got me nowhere.
Why, then, do I still spend so much time taking credit for things that I had little hand in bringing about? Why do I have such pride in the things that “I” do? For the past three semesters I have been serving as a GTA (graduate teaching assistant) with an online class at Dallas Seminary. It’s one of the intro pastoral ministries classes and the content of that class has helped to remind me as to why I still try and take credit.
Everything meaningful thing that exists in my life has little (almost nothing) to do with what the amount of work I put in. I’m not just talking about my salvation—I’m talking about basically everything.
I know that such a statement is true for everyone, but sometimes it feels more acute in pastoral ministry settings. (Again, I’m not talking about super Christian-y things, just normal everyday things.) Here are just a few thoughts that remind me that it will always be hard to say that I did anything of significance by myself.