Overcoming the Ruts

​Pastors are a whole lot like people. If I am not growing as a person, then the church cannot grow beyond the limits of my leadership. If I am not growing as a pastor, the church cannot grow. If I do not stretch myself each week, the congregation and our ministries cannot take healthy steps forward. The temptation is to always stay in the worn paths, also known as, the ruts. A key life-verse for me is 2 Timothy 15, which begins “Study to show yourself approved unto God.” (KJV) Twenty years ago I took the suggestion of a noted church leader and began to purposefully randomize my reading and my experiences. That simply meant exploring outside the smooth and familiar ruts of faith, work, and family. On the front of a Schlotzsky’s personal-sized bag of chips, the following words appeared: Sandwiches need chips, shoulders do not. Fast food theology.

​At first, I started reading books in different fields. Later, I started listening to Ted Talks and audio books on subjects with which I had no experience or understanding. I also began reading the Bible and studying the Scriptures in unfamiliar ways, like reading a letter of Paul with the last chapter first, then the second to the last, etc. I increased my reading sources to include people I always disagree with, to better understand my own ideas. Social media is a black hole from which many never seem to recover. I have limited my time on social media for my own spiritual health. I take time each morning, if possible, to read three different newspapers. On my tablet I discovered that I could follow multiple subjects for free through aggregate feeds on a program call Flipbook. I have observed that the pastors who get in trouble, many times have grown bored with their own repetitions or burned out with the constant expectations of ministry. Giving myself permission to be random has opened my outlook to hearing the Spirit nudge me forward in creative ways.Some Dove candies come wrapped in interesting sayings. One of Dove’s words of wisdom include the mandate to “Trust with your heart not with your mind.” Truer words were never spoken about chocolate. Proverbs 3 qualifies this for people by saying, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Overcome a rut. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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