This work can be centered around once concept...Surrender. This has been the theme for the day. In the morning I considered the nature of my striving and my struggles in faith and ministry. I considered how the need to prove myself, particularly in stressful and challenging times, and what becomes a sliding off in my spiritual practices demonstrates a fundamental lack of trust in God, in others and in myself. The word that kept coming up was "surrender." I came to terms with a truth that I have known and preached and was able to apply for the first time to my own deep need. The times that I am least inclined to surrender and most likely to hold things closely and go my own way are the times I most need to surrender.
This afternoon as we were considering spiritual practices of leadership and in particular spiritual practices in the area of conflict new insights were born. I've long struggled with and argued with myself about my own predisposition away from conflict. I had to come to terms with my own fundamental errors in regard to conflict in the church. There will never, ever (at least on this side of heaven) be a time when conflict will not exist in the church. Christ himself reminded us of this. There is no way whether by leadership acumen, force of will, depth of spirituality or force of personality that will stem this tide (I knew that, but I chose, instead, to believe a narcissitic fairytale). Into this came surrender. Suddenly a spiritual practices approach to conflict became a concrete way toward submission.
I continued my walk, praying my breath prayer "Shepherd of the Flock--show me Your way." I reflected on the vision that God was springing forth in my life and I continued to reflect on surrender. As I walked and communed with the very obvious presence of the Holy Spirit, the weight of surrender began to grow. With each step, surrender and the thought of it became more and more a burden.
At that moment the most amazing transformation took place. I began to recall the joy, the exuberance and the sense of liberation that flowed out of the healing and release that I had experienced yesterday. It struck me in that moment that surrender was not a burden to carry. It is laying down the burden of feeling that I need to be the focal point of ministry, that I needed to be the catalyst for change and that the success and failure of the church was not dependent on wholly on ME!! (I already new this, too; I just wasn't sure I believed it). That was the burden that I needed to lay at the feet of Christ. That is what has been tripping me on my journey. That is the burden that I am called to lay down. That is what I must surrender. This surrender is what will enable me to take the next steps where Christ will lead me.
Shepherd of the Flock--Show me Your way.