These past couple weeks I've been to the hospital bed-sides of several folks and in meetings with peers and our Bishop and with individuals. I have responded to countless emails, text messages, and returned a host of phone calls. Outlines and the sermon are done for this Sunday. There was a meeting last night and it's already been a busy Friday. And now it's time to prepare to officiate at a weekend wedding.
It occurs to me that the pace of frantic running in all our lives is NOT the way of Jesus. It's the way of the world. And I'm determined to become a peaceful pastor this year. In fact, the model Jesus provides to us for life and living is one we would all do well to adopt. Because there's nothing like a little down-time to give you some perspective.
Last week I was in a conference with our Bishop and 1,100 other United Methodist pastors. The West Ohio Conference has initiated a "Well Pastor" program because across the country ten-thousand pastors each year are burning out and leaving the ministry. And millions and millions of dollars are spent on healthcare-related costs. The Bishop is encouraging each clergy member in the conference to begin practicing several elements of self-care to protect the vitality of their physical life, emotional life, mental life, spiritual life, and family life.
It has become abundantly clear that most people are suffering the effects of an over-paced, multi-tasking, high-stress culture and lifestyle. The immediate evidence is in the rise of all sorts of family- and health-related problems. I'm determined -- as I hope you will be -- to model a more excellent, God-honoring way of living our lives. People of God should be able to deomnstrate that the peace of Christ rules in our hearts and in our lives.
When the peace of Jesus Christ prevails in our lives, our instinct to run a hundred miles per hour diminishes. In fact, I think a key piece of evidence that Jesus is Lord of our lives is when his peace effectively overcomes the trouble in our hearts. And we all need that.
Peace-filled people demonstrate the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. That comes through a regular devotional life, spending quiet time with God in prayer and in Bible-study, and engaging with the right people who lift and encourage you. These are some of the ways the Holy Spirit builds an inner tranquility in us that becomes more and more valuable as external pressures increase.
So let's become peaceful people and show the world around us that the peace of Christ makes a difference in our lives.
Love you all dearly.