Original post at http://messy-grace.blogspot.com/2012/11/spiritual-discipline-is-not-ought.html
I met with a couple of members of SPRC today. For the non-UMC folks, that’s our Staff Parish Relations Committee – lay folks who serve 3 year terms functioning roughly as an HR department for a local church. I was meeting with them at my own request. A year ago, a new evaluative tool was put out from our Conference office and, with a deadline looming large, they did what they could and submitted evaluations of the four clergy at our church.
Unfortunately, from my perspective, there was no opportunity for us to address any concerns that arose or even just offer insights into our ministry, so many things were marked NO, as in “not observed.” Seriously, a lot of the best stuff clergy do is invisible. I can’t tell you about the amazing counseling session or the powerful moment of confession and transformation. And that’s as it should be. I trust that my God “who sees in secret” knows the ministry I am doing (Matthew 6).
The first section in this evaluation had to do with my personal life – fiscal responsibility, emotional health, physical fitness, spiritual disciplines, etc. I confessed quickly that I usually stink that these things and I have scored myself the lowest in these areas both years we’ve been using this tool. I thanked them for scoring me higher than I scored myself last year.
But then one of the SPRC reps said the most profound thing – “Forget about the ought’s. What do you do?” And after thinking a moment, and forgiving myself for not fasting or searching the Scriptures (except when there’s a sermon to prep) or only praying in traffic, I realized I do have a spiritual discipline that is life-giving and beautiful and perfectly tailored to me.
The time I spend with my son, as I have explosive epiphanies about the nature of God’s love for me in the experience of my love for my child, is a constant spiritual discipline. I could never forget my nursing child or show no compassion for the child of my womb (Isaiah 49:15). He has made my heart grow, he has made me more mindful of all God’s children, he has inspired new mission efforts. These are fruit of a spiritual discipline.
This was my epiphany for today. I pray that you are released from your ought’s, too, so that you might embrace and rejoice in what is already beautiful, powerful, and grace-filled in your life. God’s fingerprints are everywhere, we just have to let go of ought’s and embrace what is (as in I AM).