I seem to be learning the same lesson repeatedly these days.
My tendency is to plan, strategize and set in place processes that will achieve my goals. That’s the way I’m wired and like all personal characteristics this has its strengths and weaknesses.
But I also think that our world and culture encourage us to nurture driven characteristics within.
The culture of church ministry is the same. As leaders we are plan, set goals and steer the church in the direction that we feel is right.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with this but I’m wondering what room we make for God when God can often go much slower that we do many times.
That’s doesn’t mean that God can’t or doesn’t do things quickly.
But the lesson that I’m learning is that God often moves a lot slower than I do.
And God’s plans are quite different to mine.
Over and over for the past year I have made plans and set goals.
Over and over for the past year God has undone my plans, refocused, redirected and disoriented me.
And it has been delightful, surprising and slow.
I don’t know how you are meant to walk at God’s pace if you are leading an organisation which places expectations on you to achieve certain outcomes by a certain time. I don’t want to polarise planning and being led by God but it seems like these two things are in tension in many organisational settings, if we are honest enough to admit it.
But I do think we need to rethink the way that we do the work that God asks us to do.
Here are some verses from scripture that have been at the forefront of my mind as God has been playing with me, teaching me, reforming me and befriending me over the last year.
Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us- Colossians 1:9-12
As we learn the way that God works, slow, delightful, surprising, we will learn how to work. As that formation happens, we begin to experience joy rather than the curse that often comes from work.
As we watch God work and we imitate that, we get a glimpse of the reign of God, we see restoration and we experience a little of what Jesus talked about when he said that knowing him is easy and light.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Now that sounds like the work ethic coming from the atmosphere of an alternate reality.
We just need to figure out how to step into that daily in our workplace.