Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Year End... Do you review or look ahead?

It's tempting, on a clear blue Saturday, to throw some snow shoes in the car and run out of town for a day in the snow. But I've been skiing quite a bit with the family this past week, and so today has become a much needed work day. It's enough to sit at the table and watch the trees, sparse in their winter nudity, as I plow through some paperwork and get ready for the new year.

As the year comes to a close, I'm wondering about the differences between people who tend to look back over the past year, and the people who tend to look forward. I know that the categories can't be absolute, and that it's a vast generalization to say that someone does either to the exclusion of the other. But it is true that people are generally either forward looking or retrospective.

I look back mostly by going through my pictures from the past year. A 16th birthday party; a climb in Colorado; a groundbreaking ceremony at the church I pastor; some time spent in a mountain cabin with family; visiting friends in Europe (including a crazy hike in the Alps, in 60 degree weather there, while it was snowing in Seattle!).

But mostly, I look forward. And I try to do so with an eye towards the various roles I have:

Teacher - I'll be teaching through the life of David this winter, and am pondering a series on sexuality, followed by one on either prayer or ??? In addition, I'm scheduled to write a book this year, and have already begun working on it. Towards that end I want to continue to devote large chunks of time to reading, writing, and study.

Shepherd - the largest amount of my shepherding time, in a church of Bethany's size, is deovted presently to staff and the church council (or elders if you're from that school of naming). I've not always done well in this arena. But I'm trying to be more proactive in these arenas, and am making prayer for this team of leaders, and for special needs in our congregation, a higher priority. I'm touched by the reminder the Pope John Paul would listen to anyone who visited him and write down their prayer requests in book, which he then took to prayer each morning. May I learn to pray with such consistency and devotion.

Leader - Of course, with a new building project, there are many challenges and changes in our little flock in Seattle. We'll be working on space allocation matters, shepherding our community through the many changes that come with occupying a new facility, and facing the challenges of stewarding our resources with incredible care and devotion during this critical stage of our growth.

Family - I'd like to be one who is consistently investing in my marriage and my children. My style for doing that generally includes taking one of the kids with me on teaching trips, and making certain that my wife and I have time together that is private, away from the demands that draw down our energies and make honest communication difficult.

Personal Development - I remain committed to the Aidan Way as a template for practiciing spiritual disciplines, hopeful that I'll continue to grow in these things. In addition, I've a couple of mountains on a 'to do list' for this summer, knowing that these kinds of goals get my butt out of bed in the mornings for either swimming or running or some other activity that might enable me to keep my lungs filled with air.

The point of sharing this stuff isn't to bore you with the particular details but to simply point out that all of us have various roles in life, and that there is perhaps some value in being intentional about what we do with those various roles. As the Psalmist says, the days are short! I'd like to live them in a way that might allow Christ to be seen. It's a stewardship issue really - what are we doing with what we've got?

How do you steward what God's given you?

Happy New Year


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