"Flourishing is an invitation to run our race and only ours." By Dr. Jessica Young Brown
It seems that everyone I talk to these days is tired. Still, despite the exhaustion, the overwhelm, the everything, I am reminded of Jesus’ words in John 10:10: “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” It’s easy to get swept up in the suffering of Jesus as the pathway to our salvation, but the real gift, is to live a full, rich life. So what does it mean to live a life that honors the purpose of our savior?
Author and minister John Townsend says “every minister needs a set of healthy boundaries.” Boundaries are essential to our flourishing. Boundaries are tools of the spirit to guide are yeses and our nos. Some of us fear that boundaries will distance us from the communities we serve, but in fact, they make our relationships predictable and balanced. Jesus was not afraid to set boundaries—he stepped away to pray, he took breaks from the crowds, he asked his closest friends to intercede for him, he ate when he was hungry, he rested when he was tired, and he cried when he was sad. Boundaries help us work toward wholeness because they keep us functioning at a capacity that allows us to flourish.
In our zeal for ministry, we sometimes believe that our call is our identity. But the God I know is one who is intimately invested in the totality of God’s creation. So then, the work of the Lord is not just what we do at church. It is also, our relationship with ourselves, and our family. It is appreciating stillness, and seeing God at work in the movement of nature, and time with friends and family. It calls us to experience life in a way that is broad, and, and deep, and rich. A way that we cannot access if we only allow ourselves to be chained to a desk or constantly on the proverbial clock.
We are God’s good creations; made in God’s image, and reflecting God’s likeness. God sees us in our humanness and declares us good. God sent Jesus so that we could have a rich and satisfying life. So, care of ourselves, mind, body and spirit, is the work of the Lord.
These decisions that we make, to honor God with the life we live, must be aided and inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit. We must have a personal spiritual relationship that invites us into the presence of God on a daily basis. We must make space for the Holy Spirit to fill us up. There is great pleasure this special kind of filling. It encourages us and helps us to persevere for the work ahead. It endows us with clarity of vision, and it brings peace and joy to our souls.
God does not call us to everything or everyone. So our best attempts at people pleasing are a fool’s errand. When we operate outside of our vocation, we frustrate ourselves, take opportunities from others, and we unnecessarily expend what for many of us feels like our very limited energy. Flourishing is an invitation to run our race and only ours. When we do what God has called us to do, God will get the glory. It’s that simple. It doesn’t feel simple in the moment, because the waiting time between planting and harvesting can be arduous. People are people, communities have conflict, bills need to be paid, life goes awry. None of that changes the promise. What we do for God, what we do as a response to that deep stirring that invited us into this place of ministry, will never come back void. For us as individuals, and for the communities where we serve, our flourishing produces fruit.
The work starts now. What practices can you put into place to live out this rich and satisfying life? How can you honor the gift God gave you by showing up for yourself? Is the spirit calling you to make that happen, so your life can be full, full to overflowing?
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on the long game. Every day won’t feel like flowers and sunshine. We know that to everything there is a season. We also know, that a rich and satisfying life means working toward net good. It means setting up our lives in such a way that we don’t have to escape it to find goodness and sweetness. It means setting up our days based upon what we know about how our energy ebbs and flows. It means doing the work to build relationships that are healthy and mutually satisfying. It means committing to spiritual practices that help to make our faith life exciting and engaging. A rich and satisfying life, a thriving ministerial vocation, is a partnership between you and God. Lives depend on you staying on this journey, We need you to remain well and whole.