Robed Expectations

As I sit here this morning I realize that I have only three more weeks of preaching left in my current appointment. It is a pretty overwhelming thing to consider. However, as I sit here this morning I am also thinking a lot about robes. Yes really….robes….clergy robes in fact.

I am sitting here thinking about them because over the next several months as we transition from summer to fall I have some real decisions to make. For many of you who may read this it may seem very silly and not really worth the time that I am spending thinking about it and I understand that viewpoint. I simply ask you to try and understand mine.

Last night I went to the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission to worship, preach, and fellowship. Ginny went with me for the first time. She was amazed at the great work being done there and was very happy that she was able to go and witness it. 

On the way home she made a statement that has stuck with me. It is a statement that I continue to wrestle with this morning. She told me that the venue we were in was one that truly brings out the best in me. She was talking about the message I shared. 

I laughed it off and simply said it is because there are “no rules and no one to worry about making upset”. We went home and didn’t discuss it anymore. However, I haven’t really stopped thinking about it. 

In my offhanded comment there was a lot of truth. As I look over the last 10 years of my ministry I often wonder how many times I have allowed myself to be stifled because of the expectations or more truthfully the perceived expectations of others.

I have had conversations with each of my Staff Parish committees over the years about how I dress or my style. In each of those situations I was the one who gave in it seems in some way or another. “After all what is most important my style or the message, ” was the rationale I used. 

While I still agree with that rationale my wife’s words are haunting me today. What if I have been limiting my effectiveness in delivering the message because I am so worried about what other people will think about my style or my dress.

I am spending a lot of time thinking about this today  I am starting in a new church in a few weeks. The tradition is that the pastor is robed during the 11 am worship service every week from September until June. I currently own one robe it is the only robe I have ever owned and would like to retire one day being able to say the same thing. 

Now understand it is not about the robe to me it is about who God is and who I am. God could have called a million different people instead of me to this ministry that I am involved in. Yet he called me. Why? Was I called to bring my experience and my gifts to a world that needed them? I think then answer is yes without question.

I suppose the problem for me is my called so tied into my personal style that I can’t change  in any way. Again without question I think the answer to that is no.  So where does that leave me, it leaves me struggling and searching. 

I am about to start the exciting next step in my ministry. I am going to be able to be involved with and perhaps help start campus ministry. I am going to be able to reach people that I feel as if the church has ignored for too long. Yet I am stuck today in this silly little moment. Worrying about a robe.
By tomorrow this will all seem trivial I am certain. Today, however it is a time for soul searching on what it means to be called.
Or maybe I just hate robes!



Just Say No

Image“Just Say No” was how Nancy Reagan answered in 1982 when asked by a child how she should respond if she was offered drugs.  The “Just Say No” campaign was so launched. Perhaps its effectiveness can be questioned and perhaps it may be viewed as too simplistic in its approach. I would suggest that it is time to reclaim that phrase once again.

While the “War Drugs” still rages on in one form or another I am not talking about using the phrase for that battle. I believe we need to use that phrase in a new battle. A battle against time. I want us to conduct a little exercise for a moment. Take a few minutes and think about the last 24 hours of your life. What have you been able to accomplish? What still remains undone? If you could fill up your next 24 hours in anyway that you wanted to what would the day look like?

We all have plans or ideas or dreams. Certain things that we think would make us happier and healthier if only we could find the time. I know that for myself I have three things that I always wish I had more time to do. I wish I had more time for my Spiritual Disciplines and I also wish I had more time to spend with my family. In addition I wish there was more time in my day to exercise. 

I am certain that you all have your own list. What is on the list is not what is important. What is important is the things that are stopping us from fulfilling those wishes. The main thing..TIME! We need more of it…or do we?

Perhaps we are going about this all wrong. I think we need to readjust how we view our days. the truth is we all have time..every day..24 hours of it… What we do with it in large part is determined by our choices. I know that we all have certain things that we “have” to do. I get it, I really do. I think the problem is we put way too many things in that “have to” column than ought to be there. 

So I say we take up the Nancy Reagan pledge once again. We need to learn to “Just Say No” again. When we learn to say no to certain things we will be amazed at how much time we finally have in our schedule. So let’s put together a couple of lists shall we. 

First List are those things that we need to REGULARLY say no to

Just Say No

  1. Envy
  2. Gossip
  3. Too Much TV
  4. Unnecessary meetings
  5. meetings that run on too long
  6. Too many Drive Thru dinners
  7. Too much “Facebook” time
  8. Regret
  9. Worry
  10. Late night snacking

Now let’s work on that other list

Just Say Yes

  1. Time with God (Bible, Prayer, Worship, Service, Fellowship)
  2. Time with Family
  3. Time with Friends
  4. Eating right
  5. Exercise

It is all about choices. See if we choose to start with “Just Say No” to things like envy and greed we will be amazed at how much time that frees up. Just think about how much time we waste worrying about things and people, time that we simply can’t back.

When we start saying no to this things it frees up lots of time, time to spend on those things that really are important.

So join me today… Make this day the day when we start to “Just Say No”