My devotional today reminded me of the wise words of a good friend.
First, the devotional: Charles Ringma, in Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen, talks about "The Matter of Balance." He says, "We frequently play one priority, discipline, or grace against another. We emphasize one thing only to neglect another. For example, we pray, but fail to work. We serve, but fail to be inwardly renewed. to hold together various spiritual disciplines, priorities, and emphases remains one of our biggest challenges -- and one of our most pressing needs."
Now, for the wise words: Dr. Jeff Arthurs, professor of preaching at Gordon-Conwell and a long-time friend and mentor, chastened me once by saying, "Minister at the speed of your soul." In other words, only you know how much is too much to have on your plate. And as soon as there is too much, your soul will suffer and you will be depleted and have nothing to give. I like what he said because it takes the focus off of what others are able to accomplish and puts it back where it belongs, on what God has designed me to do. We need a balance between soaking in God's love for us and pouring that love out for others. One without the other will not do.
In my experience, life requires re-balancing on a very regular basis. It's impossible to keep this balance at every moment, nor does God ask us to. Urgent needs do arise, and during some seasons all efforts to minister are met with closed doors. Jesus gave and gave and gave, but he also took time away for prayer and communion with the Father. Personally, I'm relishing the opportunity to soak after an intense season of output. My soul is catching up with me.