I opened a blank post and quickly typed with no editing or prior thought. Here are a few lessons learned in recent days. Check out the first post here.
#6 Don’t Hijack God’s Work
I finished my doctor of ministry in August. It was a tremendous accomplishment. I’m really proud of my work and loved my immediate/extended family and church being there for graduation day. The memory will stay with me. Yet, afterwards it all felt a bit hollow. I firmly believe God led me to begin the program and provided the strength to finish it but afterward it all felt a bit empty. With months to to think through the experience, I feel as if I might have attempted to hijack God’s work. Sure, I was being faithful to God. Sure, I was doing what God asked me to do. Yet, on top of faithfulness, I was also hoping that the doctor of ministry would provide me with accomplishment, recognition, esteem. Or as the kids say these days, swagger. Repeat after me: Don’t hijack God’s work. ~ Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Lee Gravens (Oops! There I go again!)
#7 Grace is Grace
Back in March I attended a preaching workshop featuring Bryan Chappell. It was easily the most beneficial conference event that I’ve ever attended. The impact of the conference came from a side reference to Luke 17 made by Chappell during a workshop. I’ve flipped the passage around and around in my brain ever since. It has provided a great study in grace. The power punch of the passage comes with the last line:
So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:10
Read the proceeding verses when you have the time. But here’s the message: grace is grace. Grace is not earning God’s favor through good behavior. Even if we did EVERYTHING God asked us to do … we would get no pat on the back. After all, we’ve only done what the Creator of the Universe asked us to do! Grace is grace.
#8 Rest is Best
For the vast majority of my life I’ve been a night owl. As a kid I stayed up late watching Get Smart, F Troop, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Dobie Gillis. Yes, I was an old soul. As an adult I typically stay up late reading books, working, and working some more. For the last few weeks I’ve went to bed when tired. And I’m better for it.
#9 Friendships Matter
For some reason I never learned this as a kid. I’ve been a bit of a loner since playground days. Growing up in a military family I developed the habit of not investing in relationships for the longterm. In recent days I’ve reflected on how friendships have made such an impact in my life in the last year. I meet with Terry and Joe frequently on Tuesdays for lunch and Bible reading. I meet with Amos and Jody (this group previously included Jim and Ryan. We didn’t kick them out. Promise) frequently on Thursdays for fellowship and sermon work. These relationships are life giving.
#10 First and Second Grade Girls Basketball is Amazing
I started coaching my daughter’s basketball team. I’m having a blast. I love Saturday morning games. Seeing girls work hard and try hard things is fun to watch. It puts a smile on my face and a smile deep into my soul.