Stewarding Our Vocational Power in the New Year

Are you thinking about how to approach life and discipleship in the New Year? Our resolutions can’t all be about weight loss, can they?! If you are giving thought about how to integrate your faith into all of life, maybe this short talk I gave during a Flourish San Diego learning community session this last year could help spur on your thinking and pursuing:

We set out to build a church, and we come across the promise of gifting for the benefit of the church and the kingdom…

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:..” Romans 12:4–6(ESV)

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—[5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [7] But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:4–7 (ESV)

Then over time, we adapt this list to the programmatic needs of the church. We focus on hospitality, who will welcome and serve those that attend our church? Musical gifting, who can we train to lead musical worship in the church? Teaching Children, who will tackle the ever-present need to serve in ministry to kiddos? On and on it goes. Practical needs surrounding the weekly gathering of the church take precedent.

We tend then to not recognize gifting but need and pigeonhole people into meeting them.  We might see vocational expertise but we see them through a lens of what they can do for the church. So we tap the graphic designers or electricians to do the work of the church and trust that the successful entrepreneurs will give lots of money to the church.

What then develops over time is perhaps a big machine. The only thing that matters is the machine and our sense of mission, place, and vocation are sacrificed on the altar of church success. But this is not the church we find being built in the New Testament… 

There is another way, yes gifts are given by the Spirit for the health and flourishing of the body, but that is not exclusive to within the walls of the church, because the church flourishes when all of its parts, all of its members recognize and use the passions, talents, opportunities for kingdom good. 

This is discovering and stewarding our vocational power. 

This is seeing people as individuals with various gifts, called to be a redemptive, renewing force in our world, that others may experience the renewal that is found in Christ. 

This is the equipping for ministry the church is called to, laboring to expose and give examples of how vocation is sacred and our place has a purpose. Shall we be about this work? Let’s.

As the Deadline Approaches

I set a deadline for myself to finish a paper for a summer class. It is a breezy 20 pages on the Millennial generation and why they might be drawn to neo-Reformed theology (I know it sounds like a great read!) It was never clear when the paper is due since it was for a summer intensive class but I determined that it had to be done before I go off the grid on a camping trip all of next week. A week ago I moved three hours East of Portland and started a new job but this paper loomed, waiting for me to tackle it. And I have. With a few more edits today it will be in the professors inbox this evening and I can put a period on the summer semester. It might not be my best work but I certainly learned a lot about Millennials in the process and this is a good thing since I direct young adult ministry.

This has me thinking of how I cram in other things just to accomplish them in the midst a busy life. Is this Bible study, prayer, relationships? We live in an environment that allows for great multitasking and rapid work, but in what areas should we slow down and be intentional and contemplative? Thinking through this today – among the busyness of ministry!

Love DC: Crisis Mode

Okay so maybe I don’t really “love” this about DC but it is something that I will remember with some level of comical fondness. It is “Crisis Mode,” the even constant state of panic as if the current issue being dealt with is the most challenging or life changing issue we will ever deal with.

This constant state of panic or crisis honestly wastes an immense amount of energy and fully negates any opportunity to creatively approach critical issues an organization (often political) may address.

Thankfully, in my current role most of the team manages pretty well and we rarely have moments of crisis outside of real, lives-in-the-balance, drama. But in six years of working my way through political and governmental sectors, I have had my share of “crisis mode” colleagues and bosses (you know who you are!) Thankfully, I have for the most part been able to avoid the lure of panic in the workplace. I think it offends some people but I don’t think I can live any other way. The issues we might face in our work places (with the exception of war zones etc) are not life threatening and we just need to work through them, not freak out about them.

So DC, stay in crisis if you wish. But really you should just relax!