...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

Friday, February 18, 2011

Resistance and God's Over-Abundance

Many are the grad-grinds today, contorting communion with God into a formula, and manipulating the life of prayer into a blueprint for some kind of measurable result, the end chosen by me or for me. The cup of our soul must somehow be metered and correlated with congregational utility.

Be cordial. Smile. Don't listen.

Whatever happened to God's extravagant grace, overflowing into our receiving, sharing, and giving? Like quality-control engineers, must our spiritual life be managed and controlled and fitted to serve the efficiency model? No longer does my cup overflow as promised in Psalm 23. Instead, the overflow itself is a dangerous waste of precious resource in a world of scarcity and institutional "survivor."

Reading about the shift in culture and clergy role is helpful. Gradually if not inexorably, the years wear down the yearning for more and more of God. More and more self-service can emerge. The passion for doing good with and for real people is siphoned away in the matrix of committee and commission work. The advancement of career- the one thing the system carrots -becomes the consummate good. Spiritual health doesn't matter unless it's tied to the real and measurable data.

But recovery, spiritual and otherwise, begins deep within, not from the outside. Not from looking good or image-management. No amount of trumpeting from well connected officials changes that. The war on inefficiency hides the fact that, in spite of all the waste that the aging structure continues to bless, real ministry continues to be done from a full cup. It's the grace of God. The over-abundance of God's love and mercy. Yearn and pray for it. Listen to it.

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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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