Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Would Happen if I Put This on My Time Sheet?

During my Discipleship 101 Bible Study, we turned our attention to prayer and meditation.  We specifically focused on these two chapters in Richard Foster's book The Celebration of Discipline.  In each of these chapters, Foster makes it a point to say that during these disciplines, we focus our attention on listening for God's voice. 

As we spoke about the importance of doing such things in our lives, a thought occurred to me, so I got up from my seat and walked to the chalkboard in the room.

"Given the importance of taking time to listen for God's voice," I began, "what would happen if I wrote this on my report to the congregation council?"

Then, I wrote down:

prayer and meditation  10 hours

"How well would that be received?"

I just happened to have one of my council members present in this Bible study, and she was quick on the draw, "It wouldn't go over well at all."

I happen to agree.  Of course, I pushed the conversation, "Why?"

Well, of course, the answer is we want to measure productivity in our society--even from our clergy.  For some reason, congregations tend to be much more interested in the following:

  • How many home visits did you make?
  • How many phone calls did you make/receive?
  • How many hours did you take to write your sermon?
  • How much time did you spend preparing Bible study?
  • How many miles did you drive to get to folks' homes?
  • How many new member calls did you make?
  • How much time did it take you to plan worship?
  • How many hours did you spend counseling others?
  • How much time did you spend studying?
  • How much time did you spend in administration?

All these things are well and good, but...

I wonder if they miss the point. 

As one of my other students then said, "But you are in charge of bringing us God's Word, and how can you bring us God's Word if you don't hear it?  And how can you hear it if you aren't taking the time to discern it?  And how can you discern it if you aren't praying and meditating?"

Those are a good series of questions.   A darn good series of questions.

In 11 1/2 years of ordained ministry, I have never, ever been asked the following questions:

  • How much time have you spent in prayer this week, pastor?
  • How much time have you spent listening for God's voice?
  • How much time have you spent praying for the church this week?
  • How much time have you spent asking God to make Himself known here?
  • How much time have you spent in silence and expectant waiting?
  • Have you taken the time to get away from the busy-ness of church work to sit at Christ's feet to hear what He has to say to you?
I wonder how long it will be until someone asks, and then tells me to stop focusing so much on all the busy-ness and instead concentrate on the real business that truly counts?

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Wow, that's good. Ever read the Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola? (There's a series now on EWTN that I'm watching.) You are starting to sound a lot like him.