In a way, I’m pretty fortunate. My story isn’t one in which I spent years hustling after some version of the dream. It isn’t one of reaching what I supposed to be the pinnacle of my profession or calling and finding it exceedingly hollow. I didn’t completely flame out and spiral out of control. One day, I just got tired.
But this was a different kind of tired. It persisted after vacations and weekends away. It persisted even after I took up exercise again and got myself in the best shape I had been in in over a decade. It persisted even after overcoming professional and ministry obstacles that would have left me elated in the past. Nothing could shake the feeling that something was just off with my life, my priorities, and my faith.
Full disclosure, I’m a Christian minister. I work in a campus-based ministry setting at a professional level school. I teach and harp on spiritual disciplines regularly. I regularly stand before groups of Type-A, high-achieving, work-till-you-drop types and advocate for radical ideas like taking a single 24-hour consecutive period every week to close the books and re-orient yourself to God by resting. Most of the time, I even practice it myself. Most people who know me would probably describe me as disciplined and ordered in my life.
Yet here I was, over a period of about a year and a half regularly feeling like I was missing something. If an event or ministry I planned didn’t get the results for which I hoped, that was ok. We could break it down, figure out what happened, and try again. If I tried that new discipline for a month or so and that nagging that I was missing something didn’t go away, no big deal. There were lots of other things I could try.
Trying was the key. Take on the challenge. Fail. Learn. Re-strategize. Try again. Repeat ad nauseum.
Oh, and remember to sprinkle in enough Jesus stuff to the process. I am a minister, after all.
The Drop that Overflowed the Bucket
The tipping point came slowly enough. I can’t even credit a single person’s thought or work for getting me there (though I’ll reference several at points). Finally, one Saturday afternoon, as my family took a nap, I finished a book that was my latest attempt at putting a band-aid on my problems when I felt a subtle push to take things a little farther than I previously allowed myself to go. I grabbed a pen and paper and began to write out all the ways I felt like God was leading me to change my life in that moment.
Not to get more accomplished. Not to be a success. But simply to be better at being.
Being a follower of Jesus.
Being a husband.
Being a dad.
Being someone worthy of imitation.
Being child-like in my faith in God.
It was my new Rule of Life. Not familiar with a Rule of Life? Don’t worry, we’ll come back to it later.
Over the most prayerful 20 minute period of my personal devotion life in quite some time, this is what I feel the Lord led me to set as the parameters for how I would organize my life around following Him. How I would prioritize the things I believe He values over the paths of least resistance that I had accumulated in my life. Here’s the list:
A digital detox followed.
- All social media was deleted from my phone except for Instagram– it only survived because I utilize some “phone-only” functions for work-related accounts I managed.
- All email was removed from my phone. I could check it on my computer when necessary.
- I purged many of those emails to which I had subscribed at some point to get some kind of percent off.
- I deleted all news apps. Instead of informing me, I found them to fuel anger and frustration more than inform.
- I deleted all my time-wasting games. If I could use it as an escape, it had to go.
- I deleted all those work-related apps that I could access on my computer.
- I set my phone to deactivate except for texts and calls from family after 7 PM all the way until 7 AM (by the way, I get up at 4 AM).
The next morning, I got to work. I took up the Daily Office as a reading plan again. I started praying through a Psalm a day. I put a Sabbath on my calendar.
Through the first week, I only found one of my rules that needed to be altered. When I’m in charge of a work-related meeting that doesn’t start until 8 PM, it’s difficult to limit my contacts to family. So I changed the setting to allow anyone to contact me and receive an alert until 9 PM. After that, no alert. I’ll see it in the morning.
And by the morning, I mean after I wake up, have a good cup of coffee while reading my Bible, have an extended conversation with Jesus, and read for a while.
I’m not perfect. I’ve already messed up a few items along the way. I’ll probably mess up more this week. But I’m different.
This is the Way…
Not many days after I got started, I took a few minutes to be silent before the Lord and just listen, practices that had been almost anathema just a week prior in my hustle-style spirituality. In my heart I heard the Spirit whisper a verse that I hadn’t really thought about in a long while:
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”–Isaiah 30:21
“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the way…'”–John 14:6
And there it was. I realized that I was being wooed to be more in-line with Jesus’ way of life. I had spent so much time dissecting the theological and missiological minutiae that I had neglected His way of being. I couldn’t settle for that kind of life any longer.
Why Another Blog?
This is somewhat of a form of accountability for me. I’m serious about putting into action the things I firmly believe the Lord has impressed on my heart. I’m serious about being done with hustle-style spirituality. I’m serious about learning how to live in child-like obedience and simplicity. I’m serious about wanting to learn how to follow Jesus’ way of life.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. Maybe you find yourself pushing similar nagging feelings to the back of your mind. Either way, I hope I can be an encouragement to you.
I’ve done it my way. Now, I’m going to try to walk in the way.