What Keeps You?

What Keeps You?

Fall is a bittersweet time of year for many people; if not most. On the one hand, we look forward to getting back to the regular rhythm of life. On the other hand, we are reluctant to let go of the unstructured and relaxing season of summer.

Recently, someone commented that Fall was like starting a new year. I agree, September feels more like beginning a new year than January.

Of course as we begin this New Year—this new season—it’s a good opportunity to start, or restart some of rhythms that we have let go of or have left idling over the past couple of months. A mentor friend of mine a while ago asked me three questions: What keeps you growing (or what keeps you on the edge)? What keeps you rooted? And what keeps you engaged?

What keeps you growing?

For me, reading authors and writers who believe and think differently than I do. I might not agree with all that they write or believe and they certainly would not agree with what I would believe or hold as being personally important. But nevertheless, these authors keep me growing because they challenge me to think, to consider other viewpoints all the while prodding me to continually reconcile and reaffirm my own faith and beliefs.

One of those writers is Joseph Campbell. I quoted him in my first blog. Campbell was arguably one of world greatest mythogists. This past spring and summer I took it upon myself to read some of his writings.

Another example is international best selling author Yuval Noah Harari. Early this summer I read Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. While I do not agree with everything Harari says his writing challenged me.

So, what keeps you growing?

What keeps you rooted?

For me that was the easiest of the three questions to respond to. My answers are faith and family.

The daily disciplines of Scripture reading and journaling act as lifelines that keep me rooted. After struggling to maintain a consistent Bible reading pattern early in my faith journey, I discovered having an ongoing daily reading plan helped me solve my lack of consistency. At about the same time, I also discovered journaling to be another helpful tool. Additionally, about ten years ago, I was introduced to the ancient practice known as the fixed-hour prayer. (They are also known as “the liturgy of the hours,” “keeping the hours,” or, “saying the offices.” They include morning, midday, vespers (evening) and compline (before going to bed). Just so you know, there are three other offices as well, midnight, night watch and dawn. Fixed prayer is one of the oldest forms of Christian spiritual discipline and has its roots in the biblical tradition of Judaism out of which Christianity came. Psalm 119:164 says, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules.” Before she died, Phyllis Tickle put together three books that function as manuals for these prayers (check out the volumes here, here and here). I have found these incredibly helpful. I should warn you that some people have said they are a bit too liturgical and I understand their pushback, but as an informal, freewheeling Pentecostal (that’s what some non-Pentecostals think we are) I have found that liturgy helps me be rooted in my faith. While it’s a little formal and perhaps somewhat ancient, it is also novel and new for me and therefore refreshing.

Family also keeps me rooted in ways that is impossible to fully articulate. Family is the one place where we are accepted for who we are (maybe more like tolerated for who we are). Family helps me with perspective. When I am too hard on myself they show me grace. When my outlook is too narrow or too broad family helps bring me back into balance. There is so much more to say but I think you get the point – for me family keeps me rooted.

So, what keeps you rooted?

What keeps you engaged?

There are several things that keep me engaged. I will mention just one and save the rest for a later blog. What keeps me engaged is people. No one is perfect but I really do believe that most people are doing the best that they can in life.

When we think about it—no matter what business we are in—it all comes down to people. If we are in a service industry, health sciences, education, pastoral ministry or even computer science, we are in the people business. It’s about people.

As a pastor from time to time I receive emails from different people who talk about how their lives have been transformed since they have become Christ followers. Others talk about how they have grown and developed personally. It is an amazing thing to watch and see people grow and mature and, occasionally, I am get to play some small role in their lives. What an amazing privilege that is! Another quality that gets my attention and impresses me is how faithful, committed and true people are in their faith and because of their faith. It is inspiring to watch their lives. The names of different people are going through my mind as I write this. People keep me engaged.

So, what keeps you engaged?

As I said above, my mentor friend has asked me these three questions. I actually have them hand-written in the back flyleaf of my journal. Periodically, I take them out, read and reflect on them, as I did just a couple of days ago – they became the idea for this blog. So allow me to ask you them again:

What keeps you growing?

What keeps you rooted?

What keeps you engaged?

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