thoughts on showing up to all that is

Archive for April, 2013

You Can’t Run When You Can’t Breathe

I am getting a first hand reminder how much passion and energy are connected. I am on day 25 of the sinus crud. I have been to the doctor twice. I have done the round of antibiotics. And still I keep blowing and coughing. Now in the scheme of things, I realize this is not really such a big deal. People being killed at a marathon and a fertilizer plant explosion, that is newsworthy and truly tragic. At some point, this sinus crud will be done…and my prayer is tomorrow would be good! But in the meantime, what I am noticing is how little energy I have, and how that affects everything in my life.

Before this sinus crud hit, I had started training to run a 10K. Ok, I am not passionate about running, but it is a goal I had set for myself, and something I would like to accomplish. But getting to the gym has been a real chore. It is hard to run when you can’t breathe. Sleep or exercise? No energy? No brainer. Sleep.

Some say passion is the fuel that allows us to do great things. But what I am learning this month, passion is really the kindling, or the starter…you do need something to get the fire going…but the fire needs oxygen, energy for it to have life, to burn, to create warmth and heat. Passion and energy go hand in hand.

So why does this matter? Well, much of my work is about cultivating passion in congregations about reaching new people, about sharing the gospel, about being the church God has called them to be. Frankly, it is a challenge. But after my sojourn this month, I am beginning to wonder if the issue is not so much about passion: we do care and do desire to see God’s Spirit move in and through our congregation; but rather is the issue lack of energy? Is just getting through the day and managing what has to be done taking all our energy? You can’t run when you can’t breathe!

If that indeed might be the case, then how do we renew our energy? I have been forced to consider my limits this month. To take a sick day. To not get by on my usual 6 hours of sleep during the work week. To pace myself. And mostly, to heal so that I can run again. And to trust, this malaise I am feeling is at the heart not about a lack of passion, but about needing to restore my energy. Both are essential to fueling my life.


Who Has Shaped Your Journey

So, have you ever felt a call, deep in your soul, to do something with your life that makes a difference in the world? Have you ever had that moment where you knew you were doing exactly what you were put on earth here to do? So, how did you discover that call, that place where as Frederick Buechner has said, your deep gladness meets the worlds deep needs? Was it trial and error? Probably some of that. But if you look back, do you see people who were encouragers, equippers who called forth gifts in you that you did not even know you had?

As I think about my calling as an ordained clergy, I could talk about the religion class I took my senior year of college that shifted my path away from the world of business. I could tell you about my grandmother who loved me in a way that gave me a taste of God’s unconditional love. I could reflect on my parents who gave me a faith by making church a part of our lives. I could speak of pastors who were wonderful role models of what it means to be a person of faith and to be real and human so that I did not think they were so set apart, I could never be that!

But when I think who most influenced my calling, I would have to say it was the whole church, the saints of Cleveland Ave. United Methodist Church. I came to this church as a pre-teen. It was a small church, and for a young person who was experiencing those awkward teenage years, they were definitely a community of love and forgiveness. And even more, they saw gifts in me and allowed me to lead. I taught Sunday school. I served in leadership roles. I was engaged in youth ministry and through that learned how to work as a part of a team. Interestingly enough, I don’t remember any one person saying to me, “Have you ever considered ordained ministry?” but in everything they did, they were saying you are a leader, and the church needs your leadership.

It took me awhile to put two and two together and realize that the combination of my gifts and my love of the church was indeed a calling by God to lead God’s people, the church, into its mission. But I finally got it, and when I shared this calling with the beloved people in my life, and those saints in the church, they simply said, “of course.” They had seen it all along.

Cleveland Ave. United Methodist Church closed it doors several years ago. The numbers had dwindled to the point where it did not make financial sense to keep trying to be church in the way they were, so they made the faithful and difficult decision to merge with Fairmount Ave. United Methodist Church. Today, many of those saints continue to be encouragers, equippers, and influencers. And I want to offer my own shout out this day, giving thanks for their influence in my life, and for them to know their ministry is living on in future generations because of people like me that they sent out into the world.

Listen to your life, my friends. Listen to the people in your life. There you may find your calling. And if God might indeed be calling you to lead God’s church, then go to explorecalling.orgto learn more about the United Methodist Church and the ways you can bring your gifts to the world through the church to make a difference.