First Blog of 2014 – Rocks and Days Off !

Margaret River

As we are racing into a New Year many of us feel the need to set goals and revisit dreams and vision. I have set goals for 2014 – however more than anything I am feeling the need to make sure the “big rocks ” are in place before I worry about anything else .( from Stephen Covey http://www.scc.k12.wi.us/District/Big_Rocks_Stephen_Covey.pdf

When it comes to thinking about 2014 I am challenged again to make sure I have a Big Rock in place called Sabbath. I also promised I would write about this in an earlier post. Top Ten Boundary Tips 

When I first came back to church as a 19-year-old, we were all about freedom and not following the law. We threw out anything that we thought was vaguely legalistic. Somehow in my mind that included any concept of a Sabbath. We were going hard or going home, there was time  to sleep when we were dead – we were young , zealous and actually pretty stupid.

I actually managed to live like this for quite a long time .  Then at the end of one year I felt totally exhausted and my normal vacation time did not seem to work its magic. I felt the Holy Spirit come and convict me that I needed to make sure I kept the Sabbath if I wanted to finish the race well  and feeling good and in good health

I read the verse where Jesus says  “Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). This got me thinking in  a new way and caused me to make a major lifestyle change.

If the Sabbath was made for man, then we must need it. We must need at least one day off during the week to rest and rejuvenate. Jesus fulfilled the law but Sabbath, although contained in the law, predates law. It is a creation ordinance. God rested on the seventh day setting in place a pattern of living. Then to reinforce it , Sabbath is part of the 10 Commandments and the law.  (Interestingly as my Pastor, Phil Pringle recently pointed out – we are totally fine with a moral code based on most of the ten commandments – but not all of them, in 21st century life we struggle to take a day off.

It actually take faith to take a day off. It takes us letting go of one day of earning potential or one day of sometimes much needed paid or unpaid overtime to get the job done . It takes us trusting God that he can take care of our needs as we rest. It is letting go of some control and doing what God has set in place. As particularly western culture screams at us to work harder -particularly in a post recession world where there is more work, less money and less job security – a day off can seem foolish.

For those of us in ministry it takes trusting God with our people and our projects that He will actually be Lord as we rest !

For those who are high level lay ministers and hold down another full time job – it means making sure that you don’t commit ourselves beyond our ability to keep rest in place- no matter the desire to build the kingdom.

As you consider 2014 do you have Sabbath in place – a day of rest ? God created it for you , you are not superwoman or superman you cannot work without rest. Carve out a day off a week and see the difference.

Next week – Tips to keeping Sabbath – things that I have found work for me and maybe will for you!

(Sabbath and Vacation time are precious to me- the photo above is from a recent family trip to Western Australia- that is a my breakfast and dinner view from the place my sister took us to as a Christmas present for 3 nights in Margaret River- so blessed)

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Pam’s Top 10 Practical Boundary Thoughts

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We are all wired differently and so different ways of keeping healthy boundaries work for us.

Here are 10 things that are working for me   – in no particular order,  except the first one.

  1. Sabbath is not part of the law. It was part of the original plan of God. As Jesus said – Sabbath was made for man. We cannot survive without at least one day of rest in a week. If God needed to rest on the seventh day so do we. Stay tuned for a whole blog on this.
  2.  Get into somewhere green or blue whenever you can – find a beach to walk on, a river to stroll by, a park to sit in, a mountain to stare at – as often as you can. When we spend time in creation we re-connect with the Creator.  Try not to take your phone – the world will survive without you for an hour as you nurture your soul. (The photo above is my beach -so blessed).  Disconnects you from work in a way few other things can.
  3. In ministry there will always be more work than people and money – no matter how big the organization you work for is. So get use to going home and switching off without having completed everything, it is life in the kingdom. I love to complete tasks and it has led to many late nights in the office – but I have realized that in church life there is never any real completion. There is just a kingdom that is ever-expanding (And how exciting is that )and so I can’t gauge my success or progress on completion.
  4. I am responsible before God to look after my own life. If I am physically run down, emotionally exhausted and spiritually dry – it is not the job of my Pastors to step in.
  5. If I have no margin – emotionally, financially, spiritually, physically because I have no boundaries and live right out to the edge of the page of my life – I cannot be a good Samaritan to the people in need I come across in my life.  If I am so tired and cranky from not having enough sleep that I don’t even see the needs around me –  what use am I?? Might write a whole blog on this too!
  6. Even introverts need people and extroverts need alone time. We are just wired to get energy primarily from one or the other – not to negate the other one in our lives. I am an extrovert – but if I don’t have come potter time regularly I get a little crazy.
  7. Holidays are never at a good time,but we have to take them. They have to be times of disconnecting from our normal work and where possible our normal lives. As Rick Warren says – Abandon annually. I actually think Abandon annually is the barest minimum – take your vacation people and really disconnect.
  8. I am not the Saviour I know that is obvious but the way we work sometimes you would think the government was upon our shoulders – the government is upon His shoulders.
  9. The faster I respond the faster people will expect me to respond. If I reply to an email at 10pm at night people will grow to expect it.  I will create a rod for my back that is not sustainable. I now turn my emails off on my phone when I leave work and don’t turn them back on until at least 8 the next morning. I was waking up and doing work emails before I got out of bed – ok in peak  – times really bad for a sustainable life!
  10. I can say no to things with no reason apart from I am too tired, I need some space or I just don’t want to do it. Jesus withdrew to lonely places often throughout the gospels even though the need around him was huge. Ponder this one !

These are the things I am learning – at very nearly 50 I have lived a life that at points has lacked good boundaries and I have suffered for it; relationships have suffered, my health has suffered and worst of all at times I have modelled a life that no-one wants !

I was doing it all for Jesus –and really he was saying – Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest!” He wanted to show me a better way AND  I am finally getting it. I think I will be getting it for the rest of my life.

What is your best boundary tip ? I need all the help I can get in this area !

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The B Word – Boundaries !

I have a sneaking suspicion that the way women are wired makes us  prone to having boundary issues. I am not sure it is about lack of self-esteem, abuse in our pasts or people pleasing so much as it is just what makes us women. It is our strengths turned against us.

Women are wired to mother. My Pastor Bernie Kelsey has a great saying- “You don’t have to give birth to be a mother”. The very essence of mothering is to care for some one else’s needs in a way that is sacrificial. Whether it is a screaming newborn or a friend in distress, our mothering kicks in to ignore our own needs and provide for the needs of another.

These things are strengths in women’s lives but as we all know our greatest strengths can be our greatest weaknesses. People we love and respect can unfortunately exploit our ability to self-sacrifice sometimes unknowingly. This can be an issue for women in general but for women called into an area of ministry it is way too common.

For women who are single and in ministry this whole area can be incredibly problematic as they are no natural boundaries in place.There is no husband or children who are demanding time and attention.

If we take the call of God seriously then we have to create a lifestyle that is sustainable –with good and healthy boundaries. If we don’t we are modeling a life that will at it’s worst lead to total burn out and at its best be very one dimensional and not reflective of our creative and incredible God.

I have lately been pondering this thought ; what is an abundant life? If Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly (Jn 10:10) – I am pretty sure he was not just talking about having full churches and more meetings. I am also sure he was not talking about the best houses, cars and shoes that money could buy- otherwise our third world brothers and sisters could not receive it. When we look at the meaning of that greek word abundantly – we get clarity – it is about having a life that is “superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon”. Now that is the sort of life we all want.

When I have no boundaries and live a life that is all work- even if that is ministry work – my life honestly does not look superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon.  It does not seem to be a life where I could say to other people – follow me as I follow Christ.

In fact I have had people tell me, in times where I was all work and no play- that if this was what ministry was they didn’t want it. These were not antagonistic non believers – these were sincere Christians who felt a call of God on their lives.  I don’t want to ever hear that again about my life – so I have set about putting in place some boundaries that protect me from it – it is a work in progress

More on the practicalities next week ! How are your boundaries people ??