Camera crews aside, this has been a very insightful day. In seeking some counsel on something that has been on my mind I ended up also receiving counsel on something else. Something even more important, especially since it must be addressed before the other issue can be rightly approached. The issue is something I think I’ve been aware of since nearly the beginning of the program. I’ve desired to address it, but have not found the solution, nor given proper time to consider it nor enough effort to overcome it.

Essentially the counsel can be boiled down to three points: 1. the importance of people;  2. utilizing my strengths; 3. giving what is necessary its proper time. The first is obvious. If I am to be in ministry I must minister to someone. But I have not done so due to the last two points. On point two, I have had two problems. The first being I don’t often value my strengths, particularly when it comes to people. I’m good at listening, but this quality doesn’t really stand out, particularly in a crowd where no one is able to notice who is being attentive. I’m good at reflecting on things, and drawing attention to many things of importance. But this, as well as listening, runs into a problem due to point three. If I’m not making time to be with people on a personal basis where I know I’m more socially adept, I don’t really have a chance to listen. And if I’m not making time for reflection, obviously I’m not reflecting. Again, not making time for people, I don’t have time to share with them any insights that have come through reflection.

So where is the issue? What are the personal obstacles that I need to address while praying for success and guidance. The most obvious thing is that I need to schedule time for these things. I need to schedule time for people, and I need to schedule time for reflection. For reflection, I perhaps need to just pick a better time, one where it can’t be pushed out by a late night returning from campus. As for people, the first problem is that I can’t really pre-plan around people. I may have time to hang out, or to make phone calls, but I can’t promise they’ll be available. There’s nothing I can do about that, so I’d better just schedule in the time, and if that time doesn’t work for anyone else, well then I can just use it for other things and I’m no worse off than before. The second problem is past experience.

I’ve learned that nothing is ever going to happen socially unless I make it happen. People don’t call other people. They sit around wondering why other people aren’t calling them. This is a good lesson as it forces me to be proactive. Unfortunately I’ve also learned that things don’t happen even if I make it happen. I’ve had numerous instances where I’ve planned things and they’ve fallen through. There are two things I think I should recognize (and act upon) in respect to this. One, not everyone is this flaky. Two, this isn’t an excuse to stop trying, and not to learn how to work better with people, finding ways to compensate for their flakiness.

In practice, I need to start putting people first on my schedule. Have time at the start of the week to call people up and schedule time together. Then block out time for trying to meet with anyone I can’t seem to schedule. In grad school I found that if I took time to put together Bible studies I would always have time for homework. So why can’t I put aside time to minister and to be ministered unto and expect to still have time for all the other stuff I do?

Finally, I need to be aware that the status quo isn’t working. I’m feeling drained, useless, and my thoughts generally aren’t going anywhere. I need to pray for and develop the mental discipline to approach each situation intentfully, asking what I need to do differently from past instances of this situation, and what my purpose should be. Then keep this ever before me to guide my actions so that I don’t keep doing the same things the same way when they aren’t working.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. – 1 Peter 5.8-10


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March 2009
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