Our soul may be in danger of death, but God sees and delivers us. We may find ourselves in a time of famine, but God feeds us. He is paying attention.
The end of the year can be heavy, both symbolically and emotionally. It’s a chance to anchor ourselves in time and consider making a new start. That means the end of the year is a great opportunity for spiritual reflection. Here’s a 20-minute prayer exercise to help you bring your year to a close in the presence of God.
There might not be a clear moment of crisis when we shifted from one kind of life to another. But we can still give testimony to how God is at work in our lives. When I was in student ministry and shared my story, I discovered that people responded to genuine vulnerability and honesty more than to a slick rhetorical presentation. It wasn’t about whether I “said things right,” it was about whether what I was saying connected to who I really was as a person. When the experience of Jesus that we describe matches what others see in our lives, that’s true witness.
Taking time to marvel is a way to step off the hamster wheel. Instead of feeling like we’re missing out, or looking to the “next thing” that might scratch that hedonic itch over and over again, it dawns on us that we are already surrounded by marvelous, normal things. Instead of taking things for granted, we feel thankful. Wonder catalyzes gratitude.
I like the term “covocational” better than “bivocational,” because it implies that it’s all really one thing. When I am working as a landscaper, or as a small business owner, it gives me unique opportunities to live out the Gospel, and specifically to share the Gospel in real-life situations. Throughout my lifetime, my major thought has been that I want to do what is the most significant as much as I can. And I’ve come to realize that this work does fit in with that.
If we think of ourselves as Christian leaders, we must first become followers. We must let Jesus include us on the only terms which he uses to include anyone: “Come, follow me.” If we, for any reason, think that we have arrived or secured a place for ourselves apart from answering that call, we are mistaken. Our own sin should be enough to remind us that we need a savior just as much as the next person does! No level of respectability and no set of social markers can rescue us from sin; only Jesus can do that.
A micromanaging boss can get under your skin. There’s something about having someone breathing down your neck—it’s not just annoying; it can feel infuriating. It makes you want to shout, “Just let me do my job!”
At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the boss whose expectations are a mysterious void. You want to do a good job, but you’re hard-pressed to say what your job is. Sometimes you just make something up and do that for a while, because getting a straight answer or clear instructions is impossible.
The sweet spot for empowering leadership is between those two extremes: The boss who provides clear expectations and helpful guidance, but leaves the details of execution up to you, because you’re smart enough and competent enough to figure it out.
It’s in his story of suffering that we see who Jesus is—the kind of person he is, and the kind of Messiah he is. In particular, we can learn about Jesus from his attitude toward his own suffering while it happens. Looking at the passages in Luke about Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, and passion, there are four aspects of his attitude toward suffering that emerge:
• I’m ready for this.
• I don’t have to fight this.
• I can love others in the middle of this.
• There’s something better on the other side of this.