Leave it to me to wait until the absolute latest to participate in a mandatory clergy sexual ethics training. It wouldn’t have mattered what the training would have been; I still probably would have been one of the last ones. At least there were about 20 others in my boat.
I don’t know what you think a training about clergy sexual ethics includes, but I’ve been to a few and I was sure I knew.
This time, however, I was surprised. The often repeated element of the training was self care.
That’s right, clergy do the best job of protecting the sacred trust given to them by ensuring proper care of their own spiritual and emotional well being. That means, among other things, taking sabbath and actually resting. It includes spending more time with family; no, the ministry doesn’t need you 24/7. Find a hobby. Find a spiritual director. Go to counseling. Check yourself (before you wreck yourself and others).
I’ve been thinking about that all week. It was a great reminder, and I’m sure it’s not just clergy that need to be reminded to care for themselves. What are you doing for self care?
And just like that we have a child that has left the nest. That was an experience!
I’ve taken the last few days since our oldest daughter moved into her apartment–it’s close to us and she she lives with a family member–to reflect and I have found my one parenting regret. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had mistakes in parenting, but those come with the territory.
Every since I’ve learned the value of prayer, I have prayed for my children. I have prayed for their health, their faith, their academics and everything else in between. Their lives have been covered in prayer, and not just by me.
My regret, however, is that even though I have prayed so much for them, I have not prayed enough with them.
They don’t know my prayers. They haven’t heard enough of their father’s words to God on their behalf. We haven’t prayed enough together. It’s something I would want them to do with their children, yet somehow I did not prioritize it enough with them. I’m saddened to think how many amensI have let go of and meaningful moments of quiet prayer.
I’m prepared to change that. I’m encouraging you to do the same.
I don’t recall where I was speeding hurrying to get, but I had been listening to the song Christ is Mine by CityAlight when I realized my gas tank wasn’t going to get me there. Determined to find a place $.02 lower per gallon, I skipped a few gas stations before I finally stopped.
As I entered the parking lot and pulled alongside the pump, the bridge of the song hit me:
Come, rejoice now, O my soul
For his love is my reward
Fear is gone and hope is sure
Christ is mine forever!
I had heard that song countless times before because I love CityAlight. We’ve sang a few of their songs at worship in our church. But there was something at that moment that brought me to tears. Okay, not a full-on ugly cry, but a swelling in my eyes that was coupled with a smile on my face.
It had to be a gift from God.
It’s been a while since I’ve ditched the overly somber observance of Lent. Yes, it is a time of repentance and reflection. And I do those. But I’ve learned that guilt isn’t a gift from God. Jesus never said, “Repent and feel guilty about what you’re repented about.” Rather, with repentance, God gives joy and peace.
In that moment that was something I received.
I hope Lent is a time you can experience those gifts as well.
I was out of town last week and forgot to post the weekend’s sermon. How fitting that is for this week’s podcast!
Admonition to Trust and Honour God
My child, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments;
for length of days and years of life
and abundant welfare they will give you.
Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them round your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favour and good repute
in the sight of God and of people.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.
The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelites, and tell them to make fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and to put a blue cord on the fringe at each corner. You have the fringe so that, when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and not follow the lust of your own heart and your own eyes. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and you shall be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.
At least that’s what the reports indicate. It reminds me of the reports the “spies” came back with when they first explored the land God had promised the Israelites. In the book of Numbers, a group goes to discover this new land. Oh, it’s nice alright, but it’s full of giant, dangerous people. We’ll never be able to go there! The group said that and I’m sure a few other things to convince the rest of the people they couldn’t follow through with what God told them.
Thankfully, not everyone in the group agreed with that assessment. And don’t get me wrong, there’s truth within those statements (theirs and ours).
Later in the story we’re told Caleb and Joshua were ready to go to this new land. At first, though, we’re only told something significant about Caleb. What was different about him? You read for yourself:
But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me wholeheartedly, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
Did you catch it? Caleb didn’t just have a different report. He didn’t merely hold a different perspective. He had a different spirit. And it was that spirit that helped him follow God “wholeheartedly.”
So, you see, you may not need as many ideas as you think to save the church. You may just need people with a different spirit to lead you. You may just need a new spirit yourself.