Archives for posts with tag: work

 

In the preface to his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster tells about his first appointment as pastor to a small church in a thriving section of Southern California. He saw this as his chance to show the denominational leadership and the whole world just what he could do. He imagined that this church would become “a shining light set on a hill. The people would literally flood in.”

He writes, “After three months or so I had given that tiny congregation everything I knew, and then some, and it had done them no good. I had nothing left to give. I was spiritually bankrupt and I knew it. My problem was more than having something to say from Sunday to Sunday. My problem was that what I did have to say had no power to help people.  I had no substance, no depth. The people were starving for a word from God and I had nothing to give them. Nothing.”

It is easy for us to be busy, even doing the work of the Lord, but forget to nurture our own spirits and care for our own souls. One of the pitfalls of modern living is the tendency to channel all our time and energy into our “work” and neglect our “walk.” Without attention to our spiritual well-being, the results are likely to be like Foster’s experience. We find ourselves empty and exhausted. Or we can easily succumb to the seduction of success rather surrender ourselves to lives of significance.

The prophet Isaiah has words of instruction for us: “God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath.
And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired. They walk and don’t lag behind.”  (Isaiah 40:28-31, The Message))

Dear God, help us not to get so caught up in our work, whether it be for You or for our own self interests. Enable us to realize that our “doing” must not take precedence over our “being.” During these days of Lent help us to realize that our strength and purpose comes from  our relationship with You.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

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There is a classic fable about a man who approaches three men working in a quarry. Each was asked what he was doing. The first man said, “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m breaking rocks.” The second man responded that he was building a wall. The third man said, “I’m building a cathedral.”

All these statements are true but all quite different. The first man did not look beyond the task and the sweat of the moment. He had a job to do and he was simply doing what he was supposed to until time to go home. Hour by hour, day by day it was the same. Breaking rocks.

The second man saw things a little differently. Breaking rocks was a way for him to support his family. This was his personal objective and he took it seriously. It was important to him for their survival but he had no goal beyond making a good living.

The third man said he was building a cathedral. That is a different perspective. Just like the other two men he was making a living breaking big rocks into little ones but he has a loftier vision that merely doing a job and making a living.

The different answers are an indication that their lives are also different. Terrence Moore suggests that “Their words measure the distance between the thoughtless and the thoughtful, between the pedestrian and the sublime.” He says further that their story is “a steady march from breaking rocks to building cathedrals, a story of transformation, a story…of self-transcendence.”

With startling clarity, this story illustrates that purpose has the power to transform not only our attitude about the work that we do, but the quality of our work as well

In his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink says that most methods of motivation are ineffective. He proposes that the most effective motivation must include purpose.

Image result for images of Rick WarrenRick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, reminds us that the search for purpose in life has been elusive for many because they are looking at the wrong starting point- themselves. He says, “It all starts with God… Life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not you using him for your own purpose.  One’s identity and purpose is discovered through a relationship with God and realizing that the purpose for your life fits into a much larger cosmic purpose designed for eternity.”

 

The Westminster Shorter Catechism addresses the purpose for which we were created in question number one:  “What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Jamie Jenkins

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The pursuit of happiness is one of the “unalienable rights” which the Declaration of Independence says has been given to all human beings by their Creator. However, happiness is often considered elusive and fleeting. Nathaniel Hawthorne said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

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Recent research suggests that happiness can be attributed to three major sources: genes, events and values. Data suggests that if we understand them we can improve our lives and the lives of others.

According to the researchers, data on happiness remain fairly consistent. Arthur C. Brooks reports in the New York Times that every other year for four decades, roughly a third of Americans have said they’re “very happy,” and about half report being “pretty happy.” Only about 10 to 15 percent typically say they’re “not too happy.”

Although there are demographic differences that can affect the statistics, about 48 percent of our happiness is inherited from our parents. Studies further suggest that isolated events control up to 40 percent of our happiness at any given time. Social scientists say that we can control the remaining 12 percent if we pursue four basic values: faith, family, community and work.

The website www.lifehack.org offers another formula for happiness: Letting Go + Acceptance + Gratitude. This suggests that the best things you can do with your life is to “let go of what was and what will be and be okay with it, thankful for it, and appreciate it.”

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In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at University College of London have provided another formula for happiness. They created an equation that accurately predicted the happiness of over 18,000 people. Participants in the study completed certain decision making tasks. Then researchers used MRI imaging to measure their brain activity and asked them repeatedly, “How happy are you now?” This testing resulted in the following equation:

FORMULA FOR HAPPINESS

You will have to do your own research to figure out what all that means.

The suggestions based on studies that are offered above are worth considering, but I commend the following to you as a formula for happiness that I think will work.

Rev. Bill Britt, Senior Minister at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church in Atlanta, offered another formula for happiness in his sermon last Sunday.* He based it on Philippians 4:4-7 in the Bible.

  • Be gentle
  • Don’t worry about anything
  • Pray about everything
  • Be thankful for all things

Actually Rev. Britt gave only three steps. I have added one: Be gentle. The Message translates those two words in verse 5: “Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them.”

This formula sandwiched between “The Lord is near” and “the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds” offers a simple but effective process for pursuing happiness.

Jamie Jenkins

*Rev. Britt’s sermon can be viewed at http://www.prumc.org

 

My wife is an artist. She does not use brushes and paint, pen and paper, chalk, needle, or camera. She uses spades and flowers. Our yard is her canvas. She loves to dig in the dirt to plant new and move old plants.

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My Master Gardener spouse does not trim shrubs or cut grass, although she can and she has. These chores are left to the yardman. Recently she expressed concern that the tasks were too much for him in the scorching temperatures and high humidity. I appreciated her sensitivity to his situation but assured her that he was alright and could accomplish his work with little difficulty.

I am thankful that we have a small yard. Still it requires a lot of work and it is pretty costly to maintain it properly and retain the beautiful environment that has been created. If it was much bigger, the work load might be too much and the expense to high but for now it is manageable, even for the aging yardman.

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There are 85 houses in our subdivision but none of them have a garden like ours. We live in a tree lined neighborhood and the homes are relatively neatly landscaped with low maintenance shrubs and trees. The lawns are all pretty well kept most of the time but most, if not all, of the neighbors have a lawn service- except us. My wife is the gardener. I am the yardman. She has the knowledge and the creative eye. I take care of the menial tasks of grass cutting and shrub trimming.

I am grateful that I am still healthy enough to mow the grass weekly and occasionally give the shrubbery a trim. The yard is small and the work load is manageable. Besides, my wife says the chore is saving my life by keeping me somewhat physically active.

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I don’t enjoy the yard work but I don’t really mind it either At times it is an inconvenience but it is not a burden. On the other hand, Lena loves to work in her garden and I am grateful for what she has created. Every time I pull into our driveway and view the landscaping I am appreciative of her dedication and skill. As I sit on the patio watching the birds and enjoying the beautifully serene setting of our back yard I thank God for her love for gardening and her hard work.

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Lena and I have been married for 46 1/2 years and I hope to have many more anniversary celebrations with her. So if the minimal work that I put into our yard contributes to longevity, so be it. And if her long hours of hard work in the heat and humidity bring her satisfaction, that is good. I know that there will come a time when we will not be able to maintain our current level of physical activity (as minimal as mine is) but until then I am thankful to God for our health and to Lena for her labor of love.

God created the first garden and then entrusted it to human beings. I don’t know God’s assessment of their care for this new creation but I am sure that God is pleased with the garden my wife has created. .

 

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For the beauty of each hour
of the day and of the night,
hill and vale, and tree and flower,
sun and moon, and stars of light;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.*

Jamie Jenkins

 

* For the Beauty of the Earth- Text: Folliot S. Pierpoint/Music: Conrad Kocher