Since my return from my sabbatical, I’ve learned that having a sense of clarity about one’s life and ministry can be a wonderful and challenging thing to have.
A sense of clarity is wonderful in that it helps you identify and connect with those things that feed your soul. A sense of clarity is challenging in that it forces you to confront those areas of your life that are lived outside the context of your call.
So why am I talking about a sense of clarity today? Let me answer that question by giving you a little background information.
The trouble for me all began last Sunday when I delivered a sermon I felt called to preach regarding the importance of clarity. The text for the day was Matthew 22:15-21 – a passage where supporters of Herod and the Pharisees asked Jesus whether or not they should pay taxes.
I spent my energy that day talking about how Jesus’ sense of clarity allowed him to let go of a debate others wanted to draw him into and focus on the things that mattered most. I culminated the sermon by asking folks what mattered most to them.
That question haunted me for the next few days. Here’s what that question helped me to realize.
The things that matter most to me are being a supportive and nurturing presence in the lives of those who are seeking a deeper relationship with the Divine. I feel called to spend as much energy as possible connecting with folks who are wrestling with challenging personal circumstances and/or struggling to address the deeper (spiritual) questions in life.
With that enhanced sense of clarity, I began to look at how I was actually spending my time. I found that I was losing significant chunks of time doing things that were totally unrelated to that sense of call. Over the past two weeks, for instance, I found myself losing chunks of three days working to address computer issues in the office. What was up with that?!
The other thing I found was much more painful for me to address.
You see as someone who’s spent a huge chunk of his life living as a Type A personality, I’ve gotten used to being in the mix of things. Being in the mix of things means I’ve usually ended up in positions of responsibility. This means I’ve been asked to serve on multiple boards.
Here’s the problem. I do not feel called to serve on boards. The things that are asked of board members are not the things that feed my soul in any way. In fact the consequence of the time I’ve spent serving on boards has been devastating. The service has taken me away from those activities I’ve felt most called to and forced me to do things that crush my soul.
With that clarity in mind, I did something unfathomable this week: I resigned from two boards on which I had served, and I stepped back from two other community groups.
I’m still in the early stages of living into this. Right now I’m living with heavy doses of shame because I failed to fulfill commitments I made. My hope and prayer for the long term is that by literally practicing what I preach, I can reclaim a sense of joy and purpose in my life and my ministry. I’ll let you know how this process goes in coming days.
See you next time!