Thursday, October 27, 2011

How is Your Heart?

Last week I wrote in our Sunday Bulletin about checking inside on the condition of our heart.  I copy it below:
How are you inside? In some famous words from the Bible, “people look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7) It doesn’t mean the internal organ that pumps blood, but the governing centre of our lives – our character, personality, will, motives, and mind.

Taking part in God’s mission adventure means we will do things, but we need to be careful that we aren’t so preoccupied with what we are doing for God (as if he is relying on our help), that we miss what God is doing in us. Every day God will be working to shape us to be more like Christ, if we pay attention.

Want to take a quick heart check up? Here are some things to look for:
• Do I feel mad, sad, glad or scared? Grateful or demanding?
• Am I taking responsibility for how I feel or blaming it on others?
• Do I have a few safe relationships where I seek feedback about my behaviour?
• Do I have time for people, including those who don’t yet know Jesus?
• Am I growing in love for others, or impatience with others?
• Do I think everyone else is wrong?
• Am I falling into all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking? E.g. if my performance falls short of perfect, I’m a failure.
• Am I picking out a single negative detail and dwelling on it exclusively, so that my vision or all reality becomes darkened, like a drop of ink that discolours a whole glass of water?
• Am I jumping to conclusions without the facts, or making assumptions about others without bothering to ask?

Let’s not ignore the health of our heart,

Some readers might have recognised some of the above reflection which Jim Herrington, Robert Creech and Trisah Taylor offered as some practices for "calming" ourselves amidst the anxiety that can arise in congregations.  They are using the insights of Edwin Friedman and Bowen Family Systems Theory to consider how interactions and relationships can work better in church settings.  Their book is The Leader's Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003).
I am finding the insights of this systems theory and in particular the concept of the leader being an "less-anxious presence" very helpful.
Will chat more about this,