I settle in for a large document editing job first thing in the morning and as I open the document I see that some departmental business is being done via e-mail. I need to chime in with at least my view and maybe to assist in structuring an official way of deliberating.
And I remember the time management advice I read just yesterday recommending that those who really want to make a contribution in the realm of research (or in my case, creative endeavor) should stay out of administration.
I make my way to church at All Saints’ where the liturgy is well-crafted, the music thoughtful, and Father Al’s homilies winsome, as a colleague puts it. It seems to me that my prayers for guidance are sometimes answered in the midst of this gathering of worshippers.
I strongly believe that Jesus calls us to service – an orientation for the good of others, a way of lowliness, an emptying of self, a slave’s lot, perhaps having the goal of not being famous.
If leading is coordinating, directing traffic, building consensus, and developing vision, then I think that is a role one can embrace as an act of service. But if one becomes too enamored with ideas of leading others, it seems to me that things become upended and service is drowned in talk of authority and thoughts of charisma. Leadership becomes the content of one’s relationships. Service is a much better content.
I took those ideas to worship, and here is what I learned about doing what we do “as unto the Lord.”
1. The holiness of our everyday work is not so much in what we do but in how we do it. A greater purpose is revealed for one's work when it is undertaken with this knowledge.
2. Jesus calls us to treat others well regardless of how they behave. That’s a simple concept but we have thousands of ways of confusing ourselves about it.
3. We are also called to “coax goodness” out of others. (Father Al’s words)
4. We are to take the initiative in loving. We will grow spiritually if we resolve to be the first to act in kindness. (Again, Father Al)
5. Finally, we never finish learning how to love. In fact, each day is an opportunity to seek afresh how to be loving in each of our situations.
With these points in mind, I know better how to write e-mails, how to go to meetings, how to teach classes, how to be a colleague, and how to be a husband, and how to be myself.