Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach

Obedience to the Golden Rule is “So” Important
January 18, 2012, 8:26 am
Filed under: Christian Living, Cool Finds, Good Advice, Gospel, Lessons Learned from Reading

I really appreciated this post that explains that obedience to the golden rule is linked to remembering God’s goodness to us. It is worth reading the whole thing, but here is a little excerpt to whet your appetite.

We first must understand that God will always do good for us (v.11) — so therefore we can devote ourselves to doing good for others (v.12) … Jesus does not want us to obey the Golden Rule by gritting our teeth and ignoring our own needs so we can care for the needs of others. He wants us to obey by first trusting all our needs to our Father in earnest prayer — resting in the fact that He is rejoicing to do us good with all His heart and soul. Then — trusting that God is passionately pursuing us with good — we can devote ourselves to doing good for others.


Increase My Faith
November 16, 2011, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Christian Living, Good Advice, Gospel, Lessons Learned from Reading, Vocation, work

Recently my group of coworkers read a chapter from a book on words of life and words of death. It examined the counsel that Jesus gave to the people He encountered. It caused us to think about I Thessalonians 5:14. To be helpful we must choose our words wisely. They must not only be true but they must address that individual where they are at. The article reminded me of the fact that most people come into counseling with their interpretation of the problem and the solution. Martha did. She thought the situation was that she needed to put on a fine meal, the problem was her sister, and the solution was Jesus telling her sister to get her petuty into the kitchen to work. Jesus didn’t reply the way she wanted. To reply the way she wanted, would have been harmful to Martha. It wouldn’t have brought life to her soul it would have caused her to rely on herself, be preoccupied with making a meal, and to continue to judge God in thinking that He didn’t care for her, if He didn’t respond the way she wanted Him to, in order for her to control the situation. Instead he says, “Martha, Martha, You are anxious and troubled about many things. Mary has chosen the better portion and for that she will be rewarded.”

I am a people pleaser and as such these words about counsel are hard to think about. I need my faith, wisdom, grace, and love for God and people to be increased by God so I can walk in the Spirit and minister rightly. If I walk in the flesh, my counsel, is going to lead people away from Christ not to Him.

In chapel, a speaker spoke on evangelism. He said the fields are ripe for harvest and yet we tend to look at them and say they are green… Who can live this way? God why did you choose me? I’m so awkward, I’m not a good representative. Why didn’t you choose the best, the brightest, and the suave to represent you?

If God wanted to bring a person to the saving knowledge of Himself or encourage, confront, and have them change He could snap and it would be done perfectly. Instead He chooses to graciously and patiently work through imperfect you and me and He gets the glory and He works for our good.

Recently there have been a number of things where I have been led to cry out in response to God’s commands or God’s call on my life, “Who is sufficient for these things?” “Why did you choose me? Why didn’t you choose someone who was wise or more gifted, someone who wasn’t broken and didn’t mess things up?” “Lord, increase my faith and increase my love!!!” I’ve been led to see my desperate need for Him and I’ve been reminded of the confidence I have in the Holy Spirit abiding within me. I see the work He has done and I know that He will be faithful to continue it. I have a confidence that He will grow my faith and He will foster more love in my heart because He is faithful and He will finish the work He has begun in His perfect way in the perfect time. One day I will be with Him and I will be like Him and I will see Him as He is but for now I will walk humbly and faithfully, confessing my failures and sins, and depending on Him for truth, growth, and life. And in the mean time, I join with the disciples at seeing the great call of Jesus to forgive others in Luke 17, in saying, “Increase my faith!”

The Good Samaritan and Martha
October 2, 2011, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Christian Living, Good Advice, Lessons Learned from Reading

Over at What’s Best Next, Matt Perman recently had an article drawing the connection between the story of Mary and Martha in context in Luke 10 with the Good Samaritan coming right before it. It is worth reading the entire article, but here’s a little excerpt to whet your appetite.

Do indeed be radical in doing good, just like the Good Samaritan (v. 37). But don’t take this to mean that you should be scrambling around frantically, over-committing yourself and becoming over busy… Serve, but don’t be frantic. Sacrifice and go out of your way, but don’t neglect devoted time to worship and prayer and reading the Bible…God values — indeed, requires — both action and thought. Radical action for good is illustrated in the Good Samaritan. And deep consideration of the teaching of Jesus is modeled in the story of Mary and Martha… There is time for both and, ironically, each serves the other.


Service with Limited Resources
September 9, 2011, 8:18 am
Filed under: Books, Lessons Learned from Reading

Do you have trouble” … saying no to an urgent request for help?” “As Christians, we feel an obligation to be a good Samaritan. Yet we must realize that the need itself, however urgent, is not necessarily a call for us to meet it. The need may be an occasion to do what the railroad signs command: “stop, look and listen” — and to be open to changing our plans if necessary. But  the call for us to act must come from the Lord, who knows our limitations (Ps. 103:13-14) (Tyranny of the Urgent, 62).


Tyranny of the Urgent

Usually when things feel urgent, it is because you have pressure from someone else making you think it is urgent. I have learned sometimes it is better to miss that phone call as an Admin Assistant. The student, parent, or coworker learns to rely on the Lord and after not reaching someone immediately, by the time I get back to them it isn’t such a crisis. John 11 “Let us go back to Judea … Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” He waited two days. Others thought it was urgent, but he was more concerned with God’s glory, their sanctification, and being a faithful servant than meeting their urgent demands.

Not only is it for the other person’s benefit that I don’t always take their phone call or meet their urgent demand, but it is also for my good and God’s glory. I am a human. I am finite. I am not God. I need sleep and nourishment. I have limited time and resources. I need to be faithful to not confuse myself as the Infinite, Limitless One. I need to be faithful to do the mission He has sent me on and not to take over the Kingdom. Faithfulness each day looks different. I need to be faithful with the task I have been given by the Lord. I need to be wise about using Kingdom Resources. I can’t dilly dally or waste time doing what every citizen of the kingdom or of another land wishes me to do. “Non Important – Urgent. Although unimportant, these activities in the guise of urgency conjure up an illusion that they are of value to us. They include interruptions of many kinds: some phone calls, meetings, visitors, requests for information. They can keep us busy for hours meeting other people’s expectations.” (37)

“Jesus did not meet all the human needs he encountered – many urgently desired by family and friends, and by others along his path. But he completed the mission his Father gave him” (Tyranny of the Urgent, 23). If Jesus didn’t meet everyone’s demands or stated needs then why should we think we can? We need to be faithful. They need to encounter a Savior often and not us.

Busyness and Identity

Months ago, I read through Freedom from Tyranny of the Urgent, typed up the following quotes and coined the title of this post:

“… busyness provides status in our society. People expect us to be busy, even overworked. Setting aside our own tasks to help others meet a deadline or crisis makes us appreciated, popular. In the activity we gain a sense of security.” (62)

“Today we are increasing our speed in most dimensions of life – yet we have a decreasing sense of direction and goals. Movement seems to be an end in itself, stifling questions of who we are and where we are going” (68).

“An arch-enemy of leisure, as well as of our daily devotions, is the modern cult of busyness. Society encourages us to define ourselves in terms of our possessions and our reputation. The pursuit of both can keep us busy for all our waking hours, spurred by an activism that is never satisfied” (124).

“Leisure offers a unique opportunity to place greater emphasis on making a life, not just a living. It enables us to ‘stop, look and listen’ to the question of who we are and what is most important to us. It should not be a time to evaluate work goals but to explore other dimensions fo our life, to think in terms of our total person. It is an occasion to bring our life into better balance as we manage it under the lordship of Jesus Christ” (125).

I’m still thinking through this one and need to consider this more. Switching jobs has helped me recognize that this is more of a problem in my life than I had previously thought. One question I’ve been asking of myself lately is, “Why does every job I take on become supersized?” It’s not healthy and it’s not helpful to the institution or the individual who replaces me. I realize that I always take on jobs that I love and that are worth pouring my life out for, but where is my motivation? How often do I see myself as a mini-messiah? How often do I take the weight of the world on my shoulders, try to juggle all the spinning plates, and try to hold all the loose strings all at the same time? How often am I motivated by impressing people rather than serving people? How often do I work for their pleasure and comfort rather than their sanctification and God’s glory? How often is my day ordered by what others think rather than on what faithfulness to God looks like for that day?

I do not clock in or out of my job. My job is working with and loving people. In my job, I have a platform to see God at work in many people’s lives. With this awesome job comes a few dangers, a person can start to think of himself too highly. I need to remember that I am replaceable. The ministry will go on when I leave. I need to remember that this isn’t my only calling. God has called me into relationships outside of the college. He has placed me as a daughter, a sister, an aunt. He has given me friends. He has called me to the local church. I need to remember that while this is a good calling, I can’t place my hope in it. God called me first and foremost to Himself. I can’t be devoted to a job. I can’t seek comfort, peace, strength, deliverance or anything else that He was meant to provide from a job. I can’t lower my hope from the person of Christ to anything else even a good thing like ministry or service or else I will be sorely disappointed or devastated. I’ve been advised to take opportunities to get off campus and to surround myself with people that won’t let me take myself too seriously. I need to laugh and sometimes I need to not be available. I need to not jump at every knock, text, or phone call. I need to be careful to understand what the college is asking of me and what things I’m chosing to do. I need to spend time doing what matters and doing what is most helpful to the ministry not ironing things on shirts for six hours so we look good at the Matthew’s Bowl.

I’m still working through some of these questions and thoughts. I welcome any feedback or input. For another good resource on considering how busy we are and some of the heart implications, click here.

Assigned Summer Reading

This summer all of our Servant Leadership Staff (student leaders) and all of our full-time staff are reading Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. Apart from the fact that the book falls a part, I whole-heartedly recommend it. The cover doesn’t matter, the material does :).

I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned in the process:

1. Leaders are tired. I know you are probably shocked by this! I know it’s not novel, but I’m tired a lot and I tend to think that is abnormal. I think that that is a sign that I wasn’t cut out for the work around me or that I’m not honoring God. My tiredness reveals hard work and a divine dependence. I can keep going because it is God who works through me. I want to be tired and inadequate in and of myself for the job so that God’s greatness can be put on display.

2. Leaders are optimistic. This is an area where I have been lacking. Part of it may be because I thought the work wasn’t supposed to be tiring and it is. I think part of it is a striving without recognizing God’s sovereignty. His work will prevail it just might not be in my time. I see things going wrong and get pessimistic. God is sovereign and He is at work. The outcome is secure.

‘He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth’ (Isaiah 42:4). Pessimism and leadership are at opposite ends of life’s attitudes. Hope and optimism are essential qualities for the servant of God who battles with the powers of darkness over the souls of men and women. God’s ideal Servant is optimistic until every part of God’s work is done.

3.Leaders are called. I tend to get into positions and freak out part way in. I think, “Why am I here? They made a mistake. I’m not like the others around me.” Sanders writes:

‘God has prepared those places for the one he has chosen.’ Effective spiritual leadership does not come as a result of theological training or seminary degree, as important as education is. Jesus told His disciple, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you’ (John 15:16). The sovereign selection of God gives great confidence to Christian workers. We can truly say, “I am here neither by selection of an individual nor election of a group but by the almighty appointment of God. (23). 

4. God doesn’t focus on leadership as much as on servanthood. They work together, but God doesn’t say “Moses, My People’s Leader,” He says, “Moses, My Servant” (21).

5. Leaders allow others to serve because they “recognize the value” of service. A dear friend who is also reading the book couldn’t wait for me to get to page 55. We had talked about this some and she was excited we were both reading this. I’m excited to see her love, leadership, and boldness in Christ. I love that I work in a place where a student loves me enough to say to me, “Tell me when you get to page 55,” and then to talk about it with me. Here is what Saunders had to say on page 55:

There is another element in discipline that receives too little attention. We must be willing to receive from others as well as give to others. Some sacrificial souls delight in sacrificing themselves, but refuse reciprocal gestures. They do not want to feel obligated to those they are serving. But real leadership recognizes the value of the gestures of others. To neglect receiving kindness and help is to isolate oneself, to rob others of opportunity and to deprive oneself of sustenance. Our example in this is the ultimate Servant Jesus, who came to serve but graciously accepted the service of others – people like His hosts Mary and Martha, the use of the colt He rode into Jerusalem, and  others. Bishop Westcott admitted a the end of his life to one great mistake. He had always helped others, but just as rigorously he had resisted others serving him. As a result, his life had an empty spot where sweet friendship and human care might have been.