Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach

God Did This
January 17, 2012, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Christian Living, Counseling, Discipleship, Friends, Lessons Learned, Life

I saw a lot of guilt and bitterness  both in my own life and in the lives of others last semester, that stemmed from not believing God’s sovereignty. Many of us will say that God is sovereign, but then turn around and  say things like, “I know this is beyond my control, but I want there to be something I can do to change this so it doesn’t hurt so and so.” “I’m ruining everything.” “So and so doesn’t know what their sinning against me has cost me. I’m not ready to forgive him yet. He is going to have to earn my trust back.”

Let me clue you in on something. The sovereignty of God means that you or I can’t bring anything into each other’s lives that God does not orchestrate. Stop feeling guilt about not being good enough for that friend or spouse. Stop moping about how your difficulty has affected another when it was something beyond your control. Stop accusing others of harming you or bringing you more than you can bear. Those claims are actually accusing the Lord of not being good. It is accusing Him of being unkind to the person who you have affected or of his unkindness in allowing you to be hurt by another. Instead, we can be certain that nothing comes our way that is not loving and divinely orchestrated. That’s good news! That includes break-ups, financial struggles, limitations, sins, and the whole gammet.

Yes, that boy may have been insensitive. Yes, your illness may have come at some cost to your roommate. Yes, your moving away brings great sorrow to those who love you. Yes, that teacher is harder than the others and yes, his B may have cost you a scholarship… this trial was dealt to you by the hand of God. Take it as such and rejoice. Rejoice at seeing your heart. If you didn’t sin in response to this trial, rejoice at seeing the Spirit at work in you. If you are suffering and not sinning, rejoice at coming to know the Lord more fully. Rejoice at sharing in his suffering. Rejoice at your need for Christ. Rejoice at your opportunity to not only model Christ’s response but to help that other believer that wronged you look more like Christ too.

Let the sovereignty of God cure you of moping and bitterness and instead be replaced with rejoicing and loving service to God and others.



My cousin recently commented on the fact that I must be busy because I haven’t posted much recently. Indeed I have been. I went from caring for 88 college kids to hanging out with a bunch of munchkins. Friday the 16th the students checked out at 5pm and I checked into the Keller Day Spa  er I mean Day Care at 5:30pm  for a few days. My friend Heidi just had her fourth baby, so while she and her husband were in the hospital, I was home with the three boys ages 8,5, & 3. We had a lot of fun, but I discovered I am not cut out to be a single mom :).

I’ve also had time over the break to hang with my friend Laura’s son, Garrett, my nephews, Sean and David, my nieces, Katie and Isabella, and a few other kiddos. In a few days I also hope to meet my friend Sarah’s daughter Gigi.

Kid’s never-ending  battery supply always surprise me but also enthuse me. It also amazes me how it is the unplanned and unpurchased kind of fun that they love best. The Keller boys preferred building a river and dams in the gutter to the playplace at McDonalds  (although all kids do like McDonalds) and Garrett kept saying “Jen, boom,” interpreted to mean “Let’s wrestle or how about you throw me around.” He was also content to just tell me to sit and watch him play only he can’t say “s” and instead says “sh”. These aren’t fantastic pictures since most of them are from my phone and are pictures of kiddos on the move, but this is what I’ve been up to recently.

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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.

Expectations for Youth
September 6, 2011, 8:37 am
Filed under: Good Advice, Lessons Learned, Life, My life, tmc, Vocation, work

I hope y’all don’t mind. I’m going through my drafts section and re-writing posts. Some of these thoughts may be outdated and some may be updated (or more developed). Some of them may seem strange (like this one) since I just changed jobs and it has nothing to do with this season of my life , but these are lessons God has been teaching me or has taught me that I want to take the time to record.

I’ve been challenged a lot over the last two years to think about vocation and calling. (Mostly because I’m at TMC and we talk about that a lot, but also because I was in a job that didn’t come naturally to me. I would despair at times thinking I had missed God’s call for my life.) I forgot to realize that Jesus started his ministry in his 30s, why should I expect to have a flourishing ministry or vocation at 27? Jesus didn’t waste His life. I wasn’t wasting my life away. I was being faithful to what God had called me to for that season. I wasn’t wasting my talents even though not every one of my gifts were being used in my 9-5 job. Why do we think as 20-somethings that we have to have a job that uses all of our strengths? Why do we demand that we have a job that we absolutely love right now?

I also would spend time in my last job worrying that I was not changing or growing. I thought, “I need to be in that job to really flourish or grow.” I waisted my time in doubt instead of by faith grasping God’s promises and trusting His Sovereignty. God was in the process of changing me and preparing me. It’s crazy awesome how I can look back at the last 8 years and see the Spirit faithfully leading, guiding, and teaching me so that He could get me where I need to be. The Spirit’s guidance is discernible in hindsight but not in the moment, but that doesn’t mean He isn’t at work. He is so faithful even when I am faithless. Although I had times in my last job where I felt stagnate, it was amazing to start interviewing for my new job and to be reminded in conversations with my coworkers that I wasn’t what I was when I came here three years ago and that I’m not what I will be in a month. God is at work when we don’t see it and He knows what He is doing. My boss (who is now my bosses’ boss – yes, that means in corporate terms I moved down the chain :) ) said to me in the interview process, “A year ago, I would have said you shouldn’t apply. Now, I’m eager to see what God does in the process.” Another coworker while remarking about how she had seen me change said, “Who get’s to grow in those ways in a secretary job!!!!?”

About the same time that I was thinking through my expectations for having  a job that was a perfect fit or that I was wasting my life if I wasn’t changing the world at 27 , Gunner wrote a post called “Life is Short … So Don’t Waste It?” which was very helpful and thoughtful (I would expect nothing less from Gunner). I hope it is helpful to you too.

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.

Beware of Spell Check
May 27, 2011, 5:53 pm
Filed under: Good Advice, humor, Life, Quirky

Watch out for spell check on the iPhone. Sweazy, the dorm I lived in during my college years, becomes sleazy or sweaty and woohoo become spooning. Yikes! That could put you in some awkward situations depending on who you are texting. Just saying: the need for learning grammar, to spell, and most of all to proofread has not been brought to an end by technology :).