Most of us have heard talks or read articles about how to minister, preach, or lead worship honestly from a place of surrendered brokenness, and we have heard something similar to the following: Moments of feeling completely overwhelmed are inevitable. Fighting for joy and surrender in those times is critical, and crawling toward God in the midst of those things becomes itself an act of worship that will blossom into joy. That’s all great stuff, and it’s true. Those moments can center us and result in worship. The problem is that for many of us, these moments have become a way of life instead of a season we pass through. We were not meant to live in that desert.
Whatever you think about Rob Bell, in this video he absolutely nails it when he talks about how we invite people into a life we are not living.
Every pastor or worship leader (really, anyone in “church work”, whether volunteer or paid) has felt this way during those weeks when everything is going wrong, every moment has been spoken for, and there is no end in sight. We push through, only to arrive at our worship gathering anxious, exhausted, and uncentered.
The hard, unlovely fact of the matter is that for the most part, my times of exhaustion have not been God-ordained valleys I’ve had to struggle through; they have been self-inflicted deserts I’ve entered through overcommitment and spiritual malnourishment. Bell’s assessment is moving for me precisely because it has described me at different points in my life. I’ve had to find ways of overcoming my own tendencies toward desert living.
One of the practices I have found is the “divine hours” or “daily offices,” which are essentially fixed-hour prayer and meditation. I first picked up Phyllis Tickle’s book The Divine Hours a couple years ago at my brother/friend Aaron’s house and was immediately intrigued, having never encountered it or the Book of Common Prayer before. Fixed-hour pryer is still a fairly new practice for me, but already it has been one of the most rewarding—and difficult!—disciplines I have practiced. I suspect that this is because it provides opportunity for both spiritual centering and healthy daily rhythms if practiced consistently. Also, the sort of prayers (often Psalms) used in these books are so different from my habitual prayers that they cause me to look at God, myself, and life in a different way.
» See more resources in the post Resources for Prayer and the Daily Offices.
» Read more about the balance of work and rest in ministry and life in the post Work and Rest // Tension and Synergy.