Saturday, March 8, 2014

Notes from Seminary: (3) Live Big. Die Empty.

Response to a self-evalution of the use of time & money:

My view of money is that it is absolutely pointless. I have pursued it. I have acquired it. I have spent what I gained and more. With the strength of God, my wife and I made efforts to somehow pay our debt off (involving radical changes to our life). And now, money is vital to our survival, although we have found that we don't need nearly what we had, or even what we thought we needed. God knows what we need and He has a way of only supplying it at the last minute. In this we have learned that it truly is Him that runs the show. In fact, we have gotten more comfortable with this idea of giving away more than we have. While we have come very close to missing meals, we haven't missed on yet. I think sometimes, it wouldn't hurt to feel hunger some. Many in the world do. We find their faith to be astounding.

My parents were responsible with setting aside money, but still never went without. They didn't worship money, and they valued time more highly. Money was a strong guiding principle in their lives, but when push came to shove, money was not the ultimate goal. They were and continue to be more responsible with it than me. This has been a point of contention between us because I have told them to spend it. If they give it to us, it will be immediately used and given away. I do not intent to hold it. I do not want the false security it brings. I plan to die empty and broke, no matter how much passes through my hands.

We have had some small reserves for emergencies, although we try to plan with intelligence for those events. We do carry insurance and that amount is built into our annual budget, and paid lump sum. We have donors specifically for that purpose.

Recently we have adjusted our budget downward, and our monthly expenses sit at about $2400 for basic necessities. We looking to rent out some space to cut that down further. I have found work locally to offset recent reductions in our support, and have spoken to key supporters who have opted to contribute deeper. 

For us it isn't about the money, it is about our faith, our obedience, our willingness to give up some fluff, and our open eyes to learn the value of without. So many times... we think we don't love money, but consider given up some comfort, or some security... and then let's talk about how we react.

Time is a farce. I love the description of chronos versus kairos. Let me take it further. There is no such thing as chronos. It is mere perception. Kairos is what is real. Kairos is what sustains us. If I attempt to quantify my time by chronos measurements, by eyes will lose their focus on Jesus. For the attempt of this exercise, I will explain to you how I spend my time, however I ask you suspend your judgment, because I do not live and breath by these numbers. My time works on a multiplication principle... like loaves and fishes. It bends and it flexes as needs be. And.... there are times that I retreat to the mountain to be refilled.

It is a spiritual nature that fuels me, and it is a spiritual clock that I march to. Here is my obligatory nod to the chronos, a false God:

45 hours (9 hours/day, 5 days/week Adminstrating the school)

15 hours (pastoring: writing, preaching, youth, small groups, prep)

15 hours (seminary)

10 hours (fundraising/communicating with supporters, Skype, video, etc)

5 hours (local mission fellowship - trip organization, coordination for summer)

2 hours ordination pursuit

7 hours eating (breakfast is on the fly, lunch is while I work)

35 hous sleeping (I only sleep about 5 hours/night) I know, I know...

7 hours spent in the bathroom (lol... food is sometimes an adventure)

15 hours (driving- short distances, but unbelievable traffic)

15 hours reflection with God (while I drive- a lot of sermon prep here)

5 hours per week T.V./movies (Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, misc)

7 hours per week recreational reading

5 hours per week property maintenance

I'll stop there... I think that totals to over 180 (168 hours in chronos week).

It gives and takes folks. It flexes. Sometimes I have to reduce on for the demands of the others. Some I multi-task. Before you judge, please know that free time is a poison to me. I have to give myself over to God fully, every moment of every day. Oh, I also write a blog and whenever I post an article, it is a couple of hours of writing that is the result of several hours of thinking... usually while driving, teaching, or otherwise engaging life.

I don't like to talk about how I spend my time, because people see it as an open door to speak into my use of it. I just don't have time or the patience to listen to the naysayers. Go be negative someplace else. My wife keeps me grounded and focused. That is her job. My pastors and accountability partners keep my balanced. That is their job. I look around me and all I see are more opportunities to serve. 

I want to find myself at the end of every day an empty vessel. Broken and spilled out. It isn't me that does any of this. It is about the daily practice of saying yes to the spirit. Folks, I plan to die empty and poor. Whether that is today, or 50 years from now... it just doesn't matter. It isn't about me, it is about God. It was never my time to begin with. I am a vapor.

Let the puff matter. The criteria is simple... did I love God. Did I live out that love to others. Did the people I brushed life with see evidence of him in my life. I want to burn bright with his love, understanding that the brightest flames burn the fastest.

There will be no retirement. If we are allowed to live long, then let our creaky bones continue to serve as support alongside those who can continue the work alongside us.

Live big. Die empty.

No comments:

Post a Comment