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Entries in responsibility (7)

Setting New Boundries

My life has gotten a bit more complicated the last two months… maybe challenging would be a better word.  In November I was asked to take on the preaching responsibilities for my church for the next six months and I accepted.  I agreed knowing that I would be pressed in with a packed schedule and many more responsibilities.  Stress would increase…  I determined as I went into this season that I needed to have some more rigid boundaries to help me navigate my responsibilities.  With the help of my wife, here’s what I came up with:

  1. I need to lessen my professional schedule appropriately.  This has never been easy for me to do, but it is mandated by the need for speaking preparation.
  2. Maintain a healthy exercise regimen.  It’s necessary for me to continue to take time to work out and allow my stress to be dealt with naturally.
  3. Accountability to an objective mentor that will ask hard questions and give me a 30,000 foot perspective.
  4. Implement a tweaking process that will allow adjustments to help me adjust to factors not accounted for.
  5. A Sabbath rest that is non-negotiable.  This consists of a day where I do no work and enjoy my family and commune with God. 

These boundaries might appear simplistic, but they have helped so far and I would commend them to you as a template that might aid you in your own challenging schedule.  Here’s to becoming healthier in 2013! 


Not Always About Us

I read this quote recently by a woman named, Evelyn Underhill, who is a great female scholar of mysticism, and it got me thinking about a few things.  It goes as follows:

"The spiritual life of individuals has to be extended both vertically to God and horizontally to other souls; and the more it grows in both directions, the less merely individual and therefore the more truly personal it will be."

When speaking of merely individual, she is referring to what affects us as an individual.  When speaking of truly personal she is referring to what not only affects us as an individual, but those around us.  

Much of the time in counseling we are focusing on self.  The wrongs done toward us, the wrongs done against us, and hopefully moving toward the wrongs we have done towards others.  When we reach the point in counseling when we are able to take responsibility for our actions that have affected those around us, potentially because of the actions done to us, we are moving forward.  That is personal. When we are able to move out of our own personal pain and see the pain of others, growth is happening in the human soul.  To always be in a space where we are concerned only with self is not only selfish, it is not spiritual.  Emotional growth can't go beyond spiritual growth and vice versa.  They work in conjunction with one another.  And when both are occurring, we are able to relate to others, have an impact on others, and love others well.  That is spiritual.  And that is personal.


Labor Day

All I ever needed to know about work I learned from my father.  Jacob Keller was a blue collar worker, a millwright, who worked in the factories of northwest Ohio and southern Michigan in the latter half of last century.  His profession wasn’t prestigious and certainly not glamorous, but my father embraced his work and always had pride in what he did.  There was a dignity in his approach to what he did.  Here’s some of what I learned:

  • Never be late to work.
  • Work the full shift to the best of your ability.  The union said my dad could start putting his tools away 15 minutes before his shift was up.  He always worked until the end of the shift and then put his tools away.  “Eight hours work for eight hours pay,” was his motto.
  • Never complain about a job. 
  • Work when there’s work to be done.  You never know when it won’t be there.
  • Take pride in what you do.
  • Work well with others, but never tolerate a loafer or a shirker of duty.
  • Enjoy what you do.  My dad always loved the challenges of installing new machinery and embraced learning new things until he retired.

I thank God for my father and how he taught by example.  Remember on this Labor Day to be thankful for what you’ve been given to do.  Enjoy your work!


Embracing the Sabbath

Sundays for me have always been different.  I was raised in a church-going family and there were never any questions as to where we were going on Sunday morning and whether or not we would be on time to church.  Being on time, I was told, was being five minutes early.  And there were certain things that would not happen: family arguments were not just frowned upon, they were forbidden.  My father was the enforcer, and my brothers and I respected him and honored his wishes.  For Dad, his Sunday was a day that wasn’t just some legalistic day set aside for religion, but a day where he could once again find his center, and catch his spiritual breath.

One of Jesus’ major confrontations with the Pharisees was over the observation of the Sabbath.  Jesus regularly healed on the Sabbath, not as a provocateur, but as an affirmation of one of the major purposes of Sabbath rest: to heal and recover.  My father worked five and often six days a week in factories all over northwestern Ohio and southern Michigan.  Those of you with factory experiences will immediately know that they are not centers of spirituality and deep religious thought.  My father dealt with this environment in an authentically Christian manner: he worked hard and he honored God by his words and relationships. I sensed Sundays weren’t just a time of religious duty for my father, but a necessary time for healing.  I watched my father use his Sabbath for three primary purposes…

…to restore energy – My father worked hard and Sundays were a time where he ceased work.  If he had Saturdays off, that was the day for chores and man-duties around the house.  Sunday was for rest. heal – Dad never was sick, to my recollection.  But he used his Sabbath rest to allow God to bring His healing touch to his life.  My father’s best naps were on Sunday afternoon, and when we would watch the Tigers play baseball, he only saw one third of the game because he would contentedly doze off.

…to become whole – Dad would use his time at church to remind him first of his own brokenness, but then be reminded of God’s grace and redemptive touch.  He would comment on our car rides home from church on what he had learned and what his response was.  Church was never tedious for my Dad.  It was seen by him as a necessity in his spiritual growth.

My father, born of German immigrants, is to this day the best example I’ve had of a man who lives an authentic Christian life.  He is also the best example I have had of someone who has embraced the Sabbath as it should be embraced, a day that was set apart for us to more effectively become the people we were created to be.  Thanks, Dad!



I have been doing some reading recently on a myriad of topics, and humility is one of them. In one of the books the author says that one cannot go into a deeper sense of knowing self or God without humility. That made sense to me from several different levels, as we cannot hear what God is saying or doing in our lives if we aren't humble enough to listen. I came across another quote, not from the same author, which says this:

"What makes humility so desirable is the marvelous thing it does to us; it creates in us a capacity for the closest possible intimacy with God."

Humility reminds us that we are not always right, that we need others, and we need to stay in check with ourselves so as not to put ourselves in the position that God is suppose to be in our lives. I think it is easy for us all to do that. We have a lot of access to a lot of "stuff" instantaneously these days which is both good and bad.  With that, we are becoming a society that doesn't know how to “do” intimacy with God, self, or others as we are too distracted. I encourage you to take time away from inanimate objects or other things that can tend to keep you distracted from God or other important people in your life. Doing so will continue to create a space within you that both longs for, and desires God. This will invariably expose our need for Him. Knowing our need, will keep us humble.