I walked into class with Paul's prayer to the Romans on my lips:
Lord, I want I to impart to them "some spiritual gift!"
God answered that prayer. I was teaching "The Leaders Life & Work" for Capital Seminary and Graduate School. We had a fabulous time of learning, but in the end I was the one who got "schooled." Every man in that cohort taught me something:
- Derek taught me the importance of honest reflection.
- Charlie, aka "the cohort president," taught me the importance of sacrificing for family.
- Michael, who rushed home after his pregnant wife had to be hospitalized, reminded us all that people trump classrooms.
- Danny reminded me how important it is to have a hunger to learn.
- David L taught me the beauty of humility and what happens we we "pray for one another."
- Jake taught me the power of synergy.
- David R taught me that you learn best when you understand -- and lean into -- your learning style.
- Josh S taught me the joy of that comes from extravagant sharing.
- Josh O taught me the educational power of a hungry mind and carefully targeted questions.
- Ryan, who shared a key book title (which I bought), taught me resourcefulness.
- Miguel taught me the power of a dream.
- Jon, who provided an unintended rebuke (see below), reminded me what happens when we practice Colossians 3:16.
I learned from their lives and I learned from their insights. At one point we were discussing the multifaceted nature of leadership. I had a carefully developed overview which I shared with them. Our discussion -- and their interaction -- made my picture much more complete. I hope to be sharing that picture tomorrow on my leadership site.
The highlight for me came as we discussed the importance of adopting a sustainability plan. I was sharing the necessity of having daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly rhythms as a means of doing what God tells us:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Acts 20:28 ESV
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16 ESV
While my time of daily "abiding" (John 15:5) has been very consistent and relatively strong, my weekly sabbath rhythm has been off. Sure, I have taught on it, and written on it (click here), and practiced it in the past, but my busyness has rendered that practice woefully lacking of late.
As I shared my sabbath journey with the class, Jon talked about the joy and refreshment he had been experiencing in his own life as he adopted and faithfully devoted himself to the rhythm of of devoting one day in seven to "resting in the Lord." He said, "I realized that I had been sinning against God by violating the sabbath. It was a sin to be repented of." That hit me, for I too had been sinning against the Lord by being too busy to slow down for sabbath rest.
Jon said that he had to ask himself whether or not he was going to "practice the sovereignty of God." That too resonated. I have often told others "God can do more in six days than you can do in seven," but for some reason my life had become an exception to that rule.
I walked away from that classroom on Friday afternoon with great satisfaction and gratitude for our time. I also had a decision to make. Would I begin again to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy"?
Most preachers I know do not consider Sunday their Sabbath and for good reason. Sunday for the pastor is a day of joyful work and important activity, but it is not a day of rest. Monday is my day off, but a day of errands and yard work and other such activity is not really "resting toward God." My day of Sabbath rest would have to be Saturday, but on that particular Saturday I was stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place.
I had just walked away from two full days of teaching. The day before that was non-stop preparation for the class. Two days before that I had pulled into the driveway after a three-day, 2300-mile road trip. I still had to preach on Sunday and I was a long way from finishing my sermon. This Sabbath thing was not going to be easy! Then I thought about Jon's words:
"Sabbath is practicing the sovereignty of God."
It was decision time. Would I believe that? Would I believe that God was big enough to provide my Sunday sermon in less time than I normally devoted to it so I could devote myself to the rest He calls me to enjoy?
Very uncharacteristically I walked away from my office that Saturday (and last Saturday too). I took time for Sabbath rest and God filled my tank. I could actually feel by body and soul being renewed. It was wonderfully restorative -- and God gave me a message for the people of Spanish River too!
I love the opportunity to teach. It is a delight to pass on a little wisdom, insight, and instruction. Experience has taught me -- and this class was no exception -- that I learn far more from the experience than the students.
"Let the wise hear and increase in learning" Proverbs 1:5