If you are weary, worn out, frustrated or find yourself pretending not to be, then this thought is for you.
It comes on the heels of my own experience of encouragement; the same kind I’ve heard my whole life. It comes as a response to the message of encouragement that is meant to motivate or inspire us to be more, to push harder, and to stay the course of ministry.
The message has been enough for a little while, but not enough to last a lifetime.
The message has been enough to help us lead a liturgy, but not enough to help us leave a legacy.
I’ve etched it into my brain and made it my mantra on the most difficult of days.
You’ve likely heard it in your heart, from your mentors, and from every pastoral pal along the way:
“Keep on keeping on.”
“Just keep on doing what you know to do.”
Even our good friend, the Apostle Paul offered this little line in his letter to the Philippians:
“Keep on doing the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” –Phil. 4.9
We certainly should continue to practice our faith, exercise contentment, experience joy, and offer thanksgiving. After all, these aid in our experience of the peace of God (Phil. 4.7) Of course, Paul seems to indicate in difficult circumstances in particular, it is important to do what you have come to know to do rather than default to our former response methods.
So my whole life I’ve been doing what I know to do.
Worshipping | Like you, I’ve been reading my bible. Praying even when I don’t feel like it. Adding works to my faith and faith to my works. Learning who I am and how God made me. Offering thanksgiving. Just like my faith community taught me.
Working Hard | I’ve been getting up and showing up- even if no one else does. Planning, delegating, executing, evaluating, recruiting, training, learning, prioiritizing- Both professionally and personally. Just like my family taught me.
Networking | I’ve been taking on risks and responsibilities for my community, and to build my credibility. I’ve attended events and made “important” phone calls. I’ve sacrificed personal time to send follow up emails and share my card with new connections. Sometimes this is for genuine community impact, and other times it’s for my own ego. Either way, I’m networking for influence and advancement. Just like my education (both social and formal) taught me.
Every single day, in the name of faithfulness and as unto the Lord, I do these things.
It is my go to agenda and my gut response to bad day and bad decision.
It keeps me driving the same route. Serving the same people. Conducting the same rituals.
Just keep on keeping on.
But it may in fact be the keeping that is killing you.
So, my weary friend, I want to invite you to add an important item to your agenda:
Do something different.
There are rituals with impact you have come to know and measure personally and pastorally.
But what is something you’ve yet to know? What doings have you left undone?
Coffee with a friend- when you don’t have time.
Finding a sitter and taking your spouse out. Even if you don’t have money.
Joining the gym or finally seeing the chiropractor- and telling someone you did.
Letting someone else make the pastoral visit. Even if someone complains.
Calling an unknown pastor down the street for the heck of it and offering to pray for them on the spot.
Attending an event you’d never consider attending
A new hobby
Your different may be as small as social media posts or as significant as restructuring your systems. Either way, it begins with you and your willingness to get to know something or someone other than what you always have.
This is not a call to abandon responsibility. It is an invitation to increase your effectiveness and vitality. This is not a call to quit your daily disciplines. It is an invitation to increase your daily discernment.
May you find God somewhere else than where you’ve been finding him and as a result, find the courage to keep on keeping on.