by Guy Chmieleski
Ready or not … a new year of ministry has begun (or will soon begin). And the reality is that some of us… are not ready. Many more of us find ourselves much less ready than we’d like to be. Some of us find ourselves in a place of spiritual, emotional or mental distress. We don’t feel ready for a new year. Not for the return of students, the start of classes, or the work of serving as pastor to a rapidly moving community. And the bad news is that we can’t do anything to stop time or delay the return of students or the start of another year. But all is not lost … there is good news! The good news is that today is a new day. Regardless of where we’ve been, today is a new day.
I hear the echos of the author of Lamentations:
“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left” (3:22-23).
It evokes images and feelings of hope, persistence and endurance. It speaks to a God who cares, understands and is willing to meet us in our place of need. A part of moving forward, regardless of where we might find ourselves, is being willing to give an honest assessment of where we are. We need to identify the baggage we carry and claim it as our own. We need to help our student leaders do this as well. We tend to anticipate this need in the members of the communities we serve – but typically not from ourselves or the leaders we work with. We are all wounded people ourselves – none of us perfect – so let’s not pretend to be. Let’s invite God in to these painful areas of our unfolding lives and ask for healing where need be.
And our pain, hurts, struggles and strife don’t have to disqualify us from the work we’ve been called to (but it can if we don’t address it); instead let’s cling to the words God spoke to Paul as he cried out for assistance:
“My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness” (2 Cor. 9:12).
A God who can use me and you in our weak, frail, imperfect state … it should hopefully give cause for a deep sigh of relief. It is my hope and prayer, as we begin a new season of ministry on campus, that we will be willing honor God and honor our students by claiming our baggage – before it claims us.
So I wonder:
* Are you able (and willing) to give an honest assessment of yourself? * Can you identify the baggage you bring with you into this new season of ministry? * What steps can you take - today - to begin to appropriately deal with those things that could distract, or even sideline, you from what God has called you to do this year?
I invite you to share any thoughts or comments below.
Grace and peace to you my co-laborers in Christ!