The first book that I read in 2014 was “Finding Sanctuary” written by a Benedictine Abbot (an Aussie in England) called Christopher Jamison that explores the growing clamour in Western society to find some form of quiet space in this age of hyper connectivity and information overload. The second book I have just begun is “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung a Reformed pastor and writer from the United States.
This choice of reading is no doubt a reflection of how my year went last year. The further on in ministry we go, the more responsibilities we gather, some God ordained some perhaps not. For the fulltime pastor, who is carrying the bulk of their church’s preaching load, raising a family, serving their denomination, writing pithy blog articles and following the Highlanders rugby team ( they are worth following really!), the title “Crazy Busy” becomes all too relevant.
Is it just me, or has the ever growing list of good things to be involved in got longer? Have we made ministry into something it was never meant to be and have we become immersed in the patterns of this world to such an extent that the time/effort and inspiration we devote to preaching is in danger of getting short changed?
I have long tried to devote the first day of my week to sermon preparation, but with flexibility to accommodate pastoral engagement, staff meetings and phone calls/ emails etc. By the end of last year, for the sake of my flock and myself I decided this flexibility was no longer working and a more rigid policy was required. For the last 3 months I have been trialling Monday as my Acts 6 Day. Friday continues to be my Sabbath but Monday is now devoted to prayer and Ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4) with no pastoral engagement. If you want to die, please do so on Tuesday now thank you.
I am not convinced that Church leadership has got more difficult over time. It does appear that Western Society has become more complex and lives are fraying around the edges as a result, hence the popular response to the two books I mentioned earlier and the need to find sanctuary in the midst of our busy world. As appealing as the thought of living in a Benedictine monastery sounds at times, I’m not sure that my wife and kids would endorse a long term move to the cloisters. Not sure the monks would either!
So my fellow busy preachers, how are you ‘finding sanctuary’ this year? Have our lives become ‘crazy busy’?