I just received an email from a friend with whom I was supposed to meet this morning. Unfortunately she is so stressed out trying to maintain the balancing act of work, life and faith that she has had to cancel. And she is feeling guilty not just because she is too busy but also because she cannot stand the pressure of the balancing act.
The compulsions all of us face to get busier and busier are enormous and our culture constantly impresses on us the fact that we should never slow down or take a break. Multitasking is the order of the day and hundreds of gadgets appear every year to help us with the ever increasing complexity of the juggling act.
But is this really the way that we are meant to live and conduct our work? What relationship does this type of life bear to the way of life in the kingdom of God? Perhaps you think that I harp on this too much, but I am concerned that this way of life is not sustainable for any of us, and it is certainly not drawing us closer to God and God’s kingdom ways.
Many of you know that a couple of years ago here at Mustard Seed Associates we started using the Quaker discernment method as a way to conduct our staff meetings. It is a wonderful process that focuses on listening and learning from each other rather than on the assigning of tasks and the seeking after goals. It encourages us to develop relationships and form community rather than see life as an assigning of tasks and an accomplishment of goals. It also affirms the fact that God speaks through all people and that every voice needs to be listened to and taken notice of.
To be honest we drifted away from this approach for a while last year, but with the encouragement of our Quaker pastor friend Stan Thornburg, we have returned to its use this year with amazing results. If you are unfamiliar with this process you may like to read the 2 posts I wrote when we started using this approach
The sense of community and mutual respect this process engenders in us is phenomenal. Part of what I have discovered is that it slows me down and encourages me to listen to those around me – not just in the midst of our meetings but at all times. And believe it or not I think that as a result I actually accomplish more – more of what matters from a kingdom perspective that is.
Life is about relationships but our culture has converted it into a series of tasks and goals. To move into a different way of thinking and operating we need new tools and processes that affirm God’s new life that wants to blossom and grow within us.
Let me finish with a centering prayer that I wrote over the weekend and have been using this week to help me focus and discern in the midst of all that is happening in my life and at MSA
May the centre of all things be Christ
May the way of all things be Christ
May the truth of all things be Christ
Behind, before, within, without
May the life of all things be Christ