...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Monday, November 9, 2009

Making Room for Others

I'm convinced that we cannot welcome new people into our lives until we make room. The same is true of churches. Having space is an attitude which allows others access without an appointment. We can build bigger and bigger buildings; if we don't create open spaces in our lives then size matters not.

The other extreme is making our acceptance conditional, our welcome driven by a hidden agenda. A very popular book on evangelism called The Contagious Christian explained how we can "leverage" our conversations for Christ. Terrible word. That's exactly the kind of thing that stereotypes Christians as manipulative, and takers, rather than givers.

David Burchett in When Bad Christians Happen to Good People, lists an "Unbeliever's Bill of Rights." The memorable title is mentioned in Beginnings: Around the Fire by Langford, Rawls, and Weber in the chapter, "How Do We Share What We Have Discovered?"
  • I have the right to never have faith forced on me.
  • I have the right to never be treated in a condescending manner.
  • I have the right to always hear the truth.
  • I have the right for you to patiently hear my concerns and doubts.
  • I have the right to seek answers to those questions and doubts that you can’t answer.
  • I have the right to be steered to resources for my own study and investigation.
  • I have the right to be loved no matter how I respond to the Gospel message.
While many things can reinforce our witness, it's hospitality and generosity of spirit that softens and attracts.




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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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