You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet around here lately. The last couple of weeks were incredibly full leading up to a worship conference my church hosted for our congregation and other Anglican churches in the area. It was our first time doing this, a great “dry run”, and something we’d love to offer regularly. I hosted the main sessions, led music and rehearsals, taught two seminars, led the Saturday evening service, and did the music for that service and a Sunday morning service too. I was tired. But it was a good tired.
And now my wife, Catherine, and I are preparing for baby girl #2 in a matter of weeks. Our daughter, Megan, is coming up on 17 months old, so our house is about to get even crazier. But it’s wonderful.
In the midst of all the craziness of the last few months and the next few months (years? decades?) God has been teaching me a couple of important things:
Pray without ceasing. This used to seem like a high and lofty command. Pray all the time? Impossible. Who would want to hang around someone who never stops praying? How would I get anything practical done? What about when I’m eating a burger?
But I’m realizing this is actually a very comforting and refreshing command.
My days can be a bit crazy. Emails, Easter planning meetings, moving my office, baby sonograms, turn in receipts to finance office, choose songs, get home in time to help with Megan’s bath/nighttime routine, etc. Here’s what I’m praying in little snippets all throughout the day: Lord give me peace. Help me to know how to phrase this email. Give us wisdom about what time to hold services. Help me find that pizza receipt. What songs should we sing this Sunday?
Your days look different, but they can be crazy too. And it can be hard to find time for any prayer, much less a long prayer session, and certainly the entire day. But it’s easy to pray without ceasing when the prayers don’t have to be long. Who said our prayers have to be long? They don’t. It’s easy to pray when we can just pick up where we left off, stop attempting to sound impressive or pious, and remember that because of Jesus we have access to our Father – at all times. In the midst of your craziness and busyness, offer real, short, heartfelt prayers. It will help.
Laugh. A lot of the things we can get stressed out about in ministry wouldn’t seem like such big deals if we just learned to laugh at them.
In the last 5 months I’ve had three different offices. My first office got converted into more nursery space, my second office (which I was only in for 4 months) turned out being a better fit for one of my colleagues who helps with the choirs and orchestra, and so now I’m in my third office in 5 months. I like this one the best, but it’s been an awful lot of disruption.
And this past Wednesday, after I had taken Monday and Tuesday off to recover from the conference, I spent a couple of hours in the morning putting together a little loveseat for my office so I can have meetings in there. It turned out being incredibly ugly. So then I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon disassembling it and re-packaging it and mailing it back. I didn’t get an awful lot more done that day.
And in the past I would have gotten pretty stressed out about this disruption and backlog of work it created. But actually, it was kind of funny. I had a good time trying to figure out how to assemble it without a manual, along with our AV director Andrew. Then we laughed about how ugly it was. Then I amused myself and some others on our staff by attempting to somehow fit it all back in the box in which it came. You’ve never seen so much packing tape on the outside of a box.
I could have either stressed out about it or laughed. I chose to laugh. And I think that was a better decision.
What things do you allow to stress, burden, bother, and irritate you? Here’s a tip: look for the humor. Things are funnier than we realize they are most of the time.
Turns out that praying without ceasing and learning to laugh will make your craziness not seem so crazy, make you more Christ-like (do you think the little children would have wanted to run to a serious, up-tight guy?), and help you be more effective. At least this is what I pray is happening in me.