I confess! I'm not sticking to my plan! (Sigh.)
A few days ago I surpassed the 100-post marker on this blog. I started, hoping to develop the habit of writing and pushed my way through that first month of habit-developing. I -- er -- guess it's a habit now! (Addiction? Ouch!)
I started writing, though, with a different idea of the overall direction I would take. You see, an increasing amount of my time and energy are spent coaching and mentoring others who are behind me on life's journey. I have been a pastor for a loooong time. Consequently, I often have the privilege of encouraging younger pastors. Also, one of my chief joys in recent years is working with adults who are new followers of Christ. I love spending time with them because they are so real! They haven't cluttered the hulls of their lives with religious barnacles. They read the Bible with fresh eyes and ask the most outrageous and authentic questions.
In the meantime, I am an auditory learner and an extemporaneous, verbal communicator. I teach primarily by telling stories and I LOVE STORIES! (Had you noticed?)
With that in mind, place yourself in our Small Group one night. I asked the question, "If you had no limits, what would you want to do that you're not doing now?" I heard some great answers that really helped us know each other at a deeper level. True to the group, they wanted to know my answer. I said, "I would start writing. I tell so many things about what I am learning in life, but I would start writing down the stories so they can be available when I'm not around."
To my amazement, a couple of the guys -- battle-tested Marines -- came to me after the formal part of the group ended. Each of them said, "Sam, I really think you should start writing. I would read it!" They pushed me over the edge!
So I began. In my mind were those guys from the group and pastors like RMc, who comments here occasionally. I saw this blog as primarily a way to communicate to others who are traveling a similar journey to mine.
What I didn't know was that all kinds of people from various parts of the globe would start reading and commenting here. The sense of community that has begun with my readers has often swayed the content of these daily thoughts.
Today though, Rodney, I return to that original vision. In yesterday's comment, you said, "I work very hard not to let 'work' enter into the conversation when I'm not in that context. Some folks tend to forget that aspect and won't talk about anything else!"
In response, here is something that has changed over my years as a pastor. I look primarily to Jesus' life and ministry as my example of what to do and no longer allow the longstanding traditions of the church to be my guide.
When it comes to "social" settings, the Gospels show Him in a variety of them! He reached out with compassion to the poor, the sick and the outcasts of His day. Some of them, like Levi the Tax Collector, became part of his inner circle.
However, when He was approached by "drainers" whose primary purpose was staying close for what they could get from Him, He sent them away to reconsider their priorities. For example, He told the Rich, Young Ruler, "Go, sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and come follow Me."
Why didn't He equally offer His quality time to everyone who wanted it? I'm convinced that it's because He had a lot to do (so do I), a limited time to get it done (so do I) and knew that one of his most important jobs was equipping others for after he was gone (ditto for me).
Heather's comment yesterday about pastors, "...they were always being looked up to and looked to for support and advice..." is certainly true. But is it our duty to lavish our time on "drainers" or are we such people pleasers that we can't say no? When I allowed the drainers in my world to monopolize my time, it was because I didn't dare say or do anything to make them unhappy. I'm different now.
I wish it hadn't taken over 20 years for me to change.
Tomorrow, I will tell you about someone who has done more to charge my batteries than she could possibly know.