“Today, I can write about helping pastors, or I can actually help them.”
This was the statement I made to my wife sitting out on our patio the other morning. As we talked over coffee, I was facing choices about my agenda for the day. There were a couple of situations that had come up recently requiring hands on involvement in the ministry of helping pastors. But I had planned on doing some long overdue writing for my blog, a task that has eluded me over the last couple of months. What has kept me from writing? Because I have been actually working at helping pastors – preparing seminars, having lunch, talking on the phone, walking with people in crisis, setting up Pastor in Residence programs.
And so, there on a bright summer morning, real life battled with my expectations.
I have faced this often in my life; and it continues to be a struggle. I am deeply committed to people, but I can also be deeply obsessed with accomplishing my agenda. The horns of my dilemma – tasks vs. people! When I have opted for the former, it has been easy to shut others out and not be present in the moment. I can get grumpy when my plan gets interrupted. Clearly, there are tasks that are important to tackle – things do need to get “done.” But it has been my inability to loosen my grip on the day – on my agenda – that has made many days miserable and unfruitful in a more lasting way.
When I was pastoring, I remember not always being at my best for people. My mind was on what I was NOT doing, what I could be doing other than actually listening, caring, helping. Go figure!
It has taken awhile, but I am learning to step back from the emotions that hijack my ability to see the bigger picture – emotions like frustration, annoyance and anxiety. It is not a pretty picture sometimes. And I definitely need help – from my wife and others – to challenge my default mode. An actual willingness to listen to their input has often resulted in a better grasp of what I am feeling and what the real priorities need to be.
I am in process. And the sense I have is that I am moving in the right direction. God’s agenda is always more deeply satisfying. The paradigm of “people over projects” is mostly true. (I am still not fully convinced!). However, I am convinced that our treasures in heaven are not completed “to do” lists.
According to my resident equestrian expert, having a “death grip” on the reins of a horse typically doesn’t result in the best ride. It is counter-intuitive, but light contact and a deeper seat in the saddle create the kind of connection that makes for an effective ride. I sometimes find it difficult to release my death grip on how I think a day should go. When I do, my connection to real life is actually much better .
So now, it is becoming easier to step back, to loosen my grip. When God completely turns my day upside down, I find there is a new grace that frees me to be present in the moment and adjust my agenda to His.
I think it is a good choice.
What about you?
2 thoughts on “A Loose Grip”
Oh how we long to be in control! Thanks for sharing your struggle with this. I wish I couldn’t relate so well to what you’re saying!
Rick Smith | field director | InFaith 7 Iron Circle | Reading, PA | 19607 Phone: 610.775.0394
Other that being easily distracted, I continue to struggle with “good intentions” and “over load.” I understand somewhat of Martha’s frustration with Mary. who “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.: Jesus said, “But only one thing is needed. May has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42) Lord, give us wisdom to be discerning as to the “only one thing in needed” for each of us. cal