Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Your Meditation Has Been Chosen!

I receive a lot of "we've picked you" e-mails. For example, "you've been selected as a distinguished professional" or "congratulations, you have been chosen to receive a large sum of cash."

I know the tag lines so well that I don't give the subject a second look before it gets permanently filed in my junk box.

So, today, when a message landed in my inbox with the subject, "Your meditation has been chosen", I came very close to deleting it. I'm glad I didn't. Here is what it said:

"Dear Mr. Mills:

Your meditation based on Isaiah 41:9 has been chosen to be in the Sep-Oct 2011
issue of The Upper Room. If your meditation is deferred to a later issue, you will be notified.

Enclosed is a copy of an agreement required by copyright law. Please sign it and
return it to us within 10 days so we can proceed with publishing your meditation."

I can't believe it. I've finally written something publishable.

I know it's only a small meditation for a daily devotional. And I know it won't be in print for a full year.

But it represents the accomplishment of a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the year--to get something published.

So, for those of you who are well acquainted with failure. Keep trying. One day you might surprise yourself and succeed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Back to school

I'm excited. Tonight I head back to the classroom.

I've reduced my course load from the usual (2 courses per semester) to one. I lightened my teaching load so I could take on the interim lead role at HMC. I've had a lot of fun this summer but I'm eager to get back to having my mind stretched by some great students.

If only it didn't take me an hour and a half to get to school. At least I don't have to ride in a big yellow school bus.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time on the bench

When I was young I loved play hockey. I wanted to stay on the ice forever, hoping that the puck would find my stick so I could bury it deep in the other team's net. I dreamed about those moments.

But skating and stick handling was only half the game. The other half was spent on the bench, re hydrating and cheering on my teammates. Here's the crazy thing: I never dreamed about sitting on the bench.

Then one day I became a pastor. I dreamed of expounding challenging texts in the pulpit and helping people follow Jesus. I never thought about the other side of effective ministry--time on the bench--the care of my own soul.

In the midst of the September rush, here's what I've realized: there is a direct correlation between disengagement (time on the bench) and quality engagement. When life and ministry demand greater engagement, it's time to get off the ice and spend some time on the bench. I've found that my productivity, creativity and insight is exponentially higher when I'm well rested.

The hard part is giving myself permission to disengage. Even when I think I'm letting others down by being temporarily unavailable, I'm likely not. My contribution isn't as important as others think it is. And if it is important, I'll be better equipped to tackle it once I'm back on the ice.

Besides, I'm no help to anyone when I feel like this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Practice Resurrection

I turned the final page of my fourth Peterson book yesterday.

Practice Resurrection has been my favorite of the 5 volume series. It's a commentary on the book of Ephesians but it's really a wake up call for the 21st century North American church. I'm toying with the idea of making it required reading for every Ministry Council member in the year to come.

There's one part where Peterson unpacks a Martin Buber concept that sees people in three hyphenated relationships--I-It (not good), Us-Them (also not good), and I-You (good)

Here's a bit of what Peterson says about the "I-It" relationship:

"I-It turns persons into things so that I can control or use or dismiss or ignore them. It is the basic word that is particularly attractive in buying and selling, but it infiltrates every sector of life. When it infiltrates our congregation, the men and women with whom we worship and work become objectified... they gradually become functionalized. Under the pressure of "working for Jesus" or "carrying out the church's mission," we begin to treat our family members and fellow workers more like parts of a machine than parts of a body. We develop vocabulary that treats men and women and children more like problems to be fixed or as resources to be used than as participants in a holy mystery.... Love, the commanded relation, gives way to considerations of efficiency interpreted by abstractions--plans and programs, goals and visions, evangelism statistics and mission strategies."

If you can't envision what an "I-It" church looks like, my friend Scott sent me a link to a video that might be helpful.

This is not what Jesus had in mind when He breathed life into His church.
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