...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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Front Runners

Suddenly the New Orleans Saints have our attention. But even now, on the edge of their first ever Super Bowl appearance, they're still the underdog. Nonetheless, their feel good story is attractive to long suffering fans of any sports franchise.

Front runners can't appreciate the disappointments inherent in loyalty to one team. Nor can they understand the depth of joy and celebration that we see in New Orleans today. If the front runner always has your attention, then life is a continual refocusing, nothing more.

We are all susceptible to the front runner syndrome as fad-driven people. The Olive Garden used to poll a region and cook whatever Texans thought Italian food was in Dallas or Houston or San Angelo. Churches try to cook up a ministry based on a plan that's effective in another universe. If we only copy the recipe, we'll get the same results, maybe better!

But following Jesus doesn't come prepackaged anymore than front-runners make fans. So Jesus had sharp words for Peter, whose own words and actions resembled that of a front runner. (Mark 8:31-32) Like focusing on one team only, the heart of ministry is about our willingness to enter into the pain and struggle of others, not our need to look successful.

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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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