Leadership (part 1 of 9): Rest

Editor’s Note: This is part 1 of a 9 part series on pastoral leadership that I am writing for my seminary class, Leading Christian Communities, with Dr. Kyle J. A. Small.  My reflections in this series are based on the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton.

“How is your soul?”

I was once asked this question in college.  It struck me as personal, abstract, and to be honest, a little strange.  It simply did not fit with the typical “how is” and “how are” questions.

“How’s your day going?”

“How’s your family?”

“How are you?”

“How is your soul?”

I quickly realized I did not have a clue how to properly answer the question.  I recognized I had never really thought about how my soul was doing.

I discovered I have not properly been caring for my soul.

Think about it.  Really.  How is your soul?  How is that innermost part of you, that soft and quiet place that knows you and your needs better than you know yourself?  Ruth Haley Barton describes the soul in her book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership in this way: “It is the part of you that longs for more of God than you have right now, the part that may, even now, be aware of “missing” God amid the challenges of life in ministry” (Barton 13).

This understanding of the soul illuminates the importance of caring for our soul, and strengthening our soul.

So how do we that?  What does it look like to care for our soul?  To strengthen it?  To even be aware of it’s current state?

This 9 part series will be exploring these very questions in a number of ways.

To care for our soul, to strengthen it, to even be aware of how it is, we must first rest and abide in the presence of God.

Psalm 46:10 says it this way, “Be still, and know that I am God!  I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth” (NRSV).

To effectively lead others, we must first care of ourselves.  If we are not in a right place with God, we have no right to be leading others.

In order to do the work God has in store for us, we need to first spend time with the Father.  When we close our minds to all the outside noise of life and rest in the presence of our Lord, we open ourselves to listen to the promptings of the Spirit. We are designed to work from a place of rest.  To first abide in God, and then to go forth to produce fruit (see John 15:1-12).

Our souls are strengthened when we spend time with God.  God is the King of the Universe, and we are here to rule on his behalf (see Mike Breen, Covenant and Kingdom).  Did you catch that?  We are His royal sons and daughters!  This is a worthy calling!  To best serve our Lord, to take up this calling, we need to first have a deep relationship with our Lord.

Rest.  Then work.  Repeat.

In closing, I’d like to consider these words from Ruth Haley Barton:

“Moses’ whole life can be viewed through the lens of his private encounters with God and how his soul was strengthened through those encounters…Moses’ encounters with God in solitude were clearly his lifeline, his only means of survival.  When he got to the end of his life, he was described as the greatest prophet in Israel, whom the Lord knew face to face.  He did not achieve his vision the way he had envisioned it, but he knew God and God knew him—which is perhaps the greatest achievement of all.  These days, that is all I want.” (Barton 32, 33).

So, how is your soul?

An Announcement From The Sanders.

Well friends, the last of the leaves are slowly finding their way to the ground, and as the season changes, life moves on.  Meg is cooking chicken fajitas, I’m still in my PJ’s sipping coffee, and our cozy apartment is slightly disheveled.  It is in this context that I sit here with two blankets on my lap to tap away on my dying taped-up computer these words for you, our friends, to read.

The Sanders have some news to share with you!  No, it’s not baby Sanders.  Check back in 2-5 years.  Sorry to disappoint.  🙂  But, as a baby is a new step in the life of a couple, so is the news I am about to share with you.

My wife has a new job!

And…

We are moving!

Let me give you the scoop.  Mary Margaret graduated back in in April.  She has her bachelors degree in Social Work.  Turns out, it is a bit tricky to find quality full-time social work jobs with just a bachelors degree.  Meg has been searching for a full-time job since graduation with little success.  She was blessed to have two part-time jobs during this time. She poured her heart into Safe Haven Ministries, a shelter for domestically abused women and children, and created a strong children’s program to minister to and love these children that have been through so much.  She also took on the challenge of teaching math to fourth and fifth graders, with no teaching experience mind you, and performed admirably in the tough job of being a paraprofessional.  While these jobs gave Meg great experience and provided the necessary pay-checks, the search for a full-time position continued with no success in Grand Rapids.

As soon as Meg expanded her search, however, she landed three interviews.  Things moved fast, and within two weeks of applying, Meg was offered a position at Bethany Christian Services!  Meg is now a Foster Care Licensing Specialist.  That fancy title means that she will be working with folks interested in being foster parents, walking them through all the necessary steps towards becoming foster care providers, providing trainings, handling recruitment, and dealing with complaints.  Yes, it is full time.  Yes, it has an awesome title.  Yes, I am incredibly proud of my awesome wife.

No, it is not in Grand Rapids.

It is with great excitement, some sadness, and lots of trust in God, that we are moving to my hometown of Kalamazoo!

We are excited for this next phase in our lives.

We are sad to be leaving our friends and family (and favorite restaurants) in Grand Rapids.

We are trusting in our Lord who does not lead us astray, but has faithfully laid this path before us.

This is going to be a huge change.  Meg has never lived outside of Grand Rapids.  I haven’t lived in Kalamazoo for six years.  Meg will be starting a new job.  I will be switching V&A’s.  Meg will have to learn the roads.  I’ll keep doing my school work from home (benefits of distance learning!).

We are leaving our first home as a married couple to live in a different zip-code.  We will have to learn the layout of a new Meijer.  We have to get new checks.

To our Grand Rapids family, we will miss being so close to you.  We will miss all our interactions that occur from being in close proximity to each other.  We will miss bumping into you at the store.  We will miss you.  And yet, Kalamazoo is not too far away.  We sincerely hope to stay in touch.  We want to visit you, and you to visit us. A move does not end a friendship, it just creates different opportunities for the friendship to endure.

Kalamazoo, we are excited.  We are ready for you.  We are coming.

They mean it when they say life is a journey, huh?

-kfs

Don’t Call it a Comeback.

Just a typical 354 day hiatus. I’m here, writing to you, from my newly named blog: goat rodeo. Why goat rodeo, you ask? Come along with me and find out.

When I was young buck of 15 years old I had a guitar teacher by the name of Brett Spradlin. This Brett fella’ and I would jam out for a half an hour once a week. We. Were. Awesome. From this insanity, we declared that if we were to ever be a band, we would be called goat rodeo. What is a goat rodeo, you wonder? Funny you should ask.

There is no handy webster definition for a goat rodeo. No, the phrase is far too extraordinary for that. Here’s the recipe for a typical goat rodeo.

Ingredients for a goat rodeo:

1 rodeo

Hundreds of goats.

Directions: Mix all ingredients together until utter insanity ensues.  Once insanity is reached, continue mixing until chaos is inevitable. Add a dash of salt and cinnamon.  Viola. You have a goat rodeo.

Consider this blog a digital goat rodeo.  This is a place for my thoughts to find soil and either wither or grow. It’s a place for the unpredictability of my mind to find a home. I welcome you into this goat rodeo. Proceed at your own risk.

Back to the story of my band goat rodeo. We never hit it big, at least not directly. None other than the acclaimed cellest Yo-Yo Ma did me a favor and composed a cd with a group of talented musicians and titled it “Goat Rodeo Sessions.” Check it out here. Since these fine musicians already created the same sound Brett and I were sure to create, I can instead leave my rock band ways behind and focus on this here blog.

I was recently reminded by my good friend and fellow blogger Joshua of the importance of maintaining a rich literary life through reading and writing outside of the confines of school. So here it is. I shook the dust off the ol’ blog and I’m back at it. I won’t make any promises this time around, but I will try to be on here weekly or so.

So there it is. A new blog title, a handful of new words, and the same old Kevin. Looking forward to the journey with you all. See ya again soon.

-kfs

554 Words.

Shalom my friends!

It is I, the surviving optimist, back to share my mind with you all.  Needless to say, it’s been a while… but that is no matter.  I am here now, ready to write about who knows what.  I’ll catch you up just a little bit.

First things first.  Mary Margaret and I are getting married!!!

Okay, chances are, if you are reading this, you already knew that.  Either way, I am extremely giddy and thrilled to be on this journey with my best friend.  We are loving the ride of being engaged, talking about our big day, and our entire lives afterwards.  There have been stresses, there have been difficult decisions, but in the end, it’s the best time of our lives and we couldn’t be happier.

Fun fact: Today marks 2 years and 7 months of going steady together! Aww yeah!*

And from here on out, this post is going to be a bit all over the place. You’ve been warned (but if you know me in any capacity…you’ve probably come to realize this tendency already).

I am currently sitting on my couch with some funky tunes going while sipping on some loose leaf (My Morning Mate blend) as I try to start my free day off right.  There is no school or work for me today.  If I wanted to stay on this couch all day, I could. No one could stop me, except my bladder.  But alas, I don’t want to do that.  I want to have some fun.  Free days do not come often.  Do you remember those days in Highschool when you thought you were busy? I thought I was a busy man working 20 hours at Fazoli’s and with my heavy load of art assignments.  But really, I mostly just hung out.  I had so much free time.  I never realized it, of course, but now I wish I had that back.  I wonder if I will look back on my time now when I am forty, happily married, father to many children and many dogs.  Will I look back and say, “My, I surely had a lot of free time when I was a young buck.” Probably. But life will be amazing spending it with those I love.

Shortly after our engagement, I told Mary that there was only one thing I needed to do as a “single man” before we get married.  That thing? Try and grow a beard.  My friends, that time is now.  We had our engagement photos taken last weekend (!!!!!!!!!!!) and now it’s time to see what this peach fuzz is made of.  I am already aware of my 82% chance of failure at this exploration, but I choose to focus on the 18% chance that my beard might be awesome.  As many of you know, I am a huge fan of beards.  Who knows? Maybe my beard will be so legendary that I will never shave again. How does that sound, Mary Margaret? 😉

Wish me luck.

In other news, a semi-new favorite band of mine is The Head And The Heart. Check them out.

I don’t really know what else to say.  Getting back into this blogging thing is hard, alright? Don’t worry, the next post will be better. I’m rusty. and I’m Kevin. Thanks for reading.

-kfs

*You know, which is nice. 😀

 

Summer

So what’s a guy to say when he hasn’t written in nearly 2 months?

I’m sorry.  I’ve been distant.  I needed my space.  Forgive me?

Moving on.

Why, hello!  A lot has happened since that last time I wrote, definitely too much to catch you up on fully, but here’s the 140 character or less summary: “1st year of sem=done, selling shoes, worship leader for wed. night worship, too much free time, too little friends, still really in love.”

Word limits are good for me.  I tend to be wordy.

Summer is here, and yesterday’s sunshine helped prove that correctly.  This is quite a unique summer for me.  For the first time in a while, I am not in class.  Homework isn’t my constant shadow for a few months.  Needless to say, I’m a bit excited about this summer.  It turns out I’m going to have a lot more free time than I initially planned, but I am striving to use this summer wisely.  This is very possibly the last summer I will have with so little responsibility.  I intend to use it to the fullest.

How you ask? For starters, I made a book list. I don’t think I’ve ever written an actually summer reading list before, but I am ready to read.  For fun.  Not for school.  I also want to play a lot of music this summer and stretch myself in new ways.  Does that mean more finger picking and more ukulele?  You betchya.

I am also striving to use this summer as a time to fall into some good routines.  With all this newfound time on my hands, I immediately run the risk of being lazy.  I don’t want to be lazy this summer.  I want to accomplish a lot while enjoying the downtime I have.  I want to write, exercise (crazy, I know), be spontaneous, be outdoorsy, and enjoy a cup of coffee on my balcony just for the hay of it.  I want to live.  Do you know what I mean?  I don’t want to sleep through this summer.  I want to look back and see a clear cut journey of where I’ve been, and where I’ve come, through a summer of life, joy, passion, and growth.  I invite you to take this journey with me.  There’s no time like now, right?

It’s good to be back.  I hope to write much more often on here this summer.  Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

-kfs