As Space for Grace takes its own annual break over the next couple of months, why not take some time to reflect on how God has spoken to you during this time of pandemic? How did the pandemic affected your relationship with God?
Over the coming months we wanted to showcase your own thoughts and experiences to the topic ‘Leading out of COVID’ (though we know many of us are still in the midst of it). Please do send your own responses to that question (however you interpret it). We’ll help you turn them into Weekly Thoughts that can be shared with this wider community…
COVID-19 has been a massive ‘interruption’. It has forced me to try and change my attitude to interruptions. Interruptions take time from my administrative tasks. More fundamentally they undermine my attempts to generate order. So naturally I try to ‘refuse’ them. But more recently I have been trying to allow interruptions a place, giving them “space and grace”. Not in order to control them, but trying to listen to what they bring to me, looking out for how they might influence what I was about to do or write. Sometimes they inspire me to include things I had not thought about. Although this is still not easy to do, it does make sense.
I find it a way of identifying ‘anchor points’ where I allow my faith to surface during the day. In this way, interruptions paradoxically become a breath of life, a surprising experience of God’s transformative presence (although at the time this may feel more like disruption than transformation!). Interruptions enable my generosity to grow. They change my attitude to my work and my life. They turn my leadership into servantship.
Instead of a weekly thought this week, we would like to set you a challenge. Over the next few weeks we wanted to showcase your own thoughts and experiences to the topic ‘Leading out of COVID’ (though we know many of us are still in the midst of it). Please do send your own responses to that question (however you interpret it). We’ll help you turn them into Weekly Thoughts that can be shared with this wider community…
Change is all about planning and action – or so we think. I’m learning that it is much deeper than that. For me it is about repentance – but not the superficial repentance of my youth where I simply confessed, but left sins and patterns unchanged. I am beginning to understand that repentance is a process involving observing, reflecting, discussing, planning, being accountable and acting.
I am now holding on, to ask myself “what is actually going on here?” As I ponder that I also ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me. From there, talking with other people – and what God says through them – is helping me to discover the roots of my challenges. It enables me to make a small plan, be accountable about it to someone and to act upon it. The effects: more peace and rest – fruits of the Spirit. And I’m more effective too, as it is not my own striving, but more about doing what God has already planned for me.
So much of our capacity development is superficial. We focus on organisational action plans, but in doing so we booby-trap good intentions with human failure. We also need the personal development element that only comes from regular repentance.
Where do you see the need for change in your organization or yourself?
Where does reflective repentance fit in this process?
In this time of COVID-19, many people are experiencing severe work stress and, for some, leading to burnout. It’s easy to be deceived into accepting remote working as ‘the new normal’ as work without boundaries, being available 24/7 and accepting that it’s OK not to take a regular break. This way of working is not sustainable.
A few years ago, I experienced the severity of overwhelming work demands, a non-stop schedule that exhausted me both mentally and physically, as I capture in my poem below. Here also are some tips that work for me:
Start the day with a time of quiet: meditation, prayer, journaling
Engage in some physical activity: making coffee counts, as does stretching, walking around your neighbourhood
Take regular breaks in the day: morning, afternoon and especially a lunch break
After every task/assignment, step away from your computer after every task/assignment: give yourself a sense of closure, completeness. I wash dishes as a break from my cerebral activities
Make time for your family: spend quality time in the day; having a regular ritual can be helpful
Stay connected with your team at a personal level: set up a virtual check-in or chat
Doodle: as you sit through long and sometimes dull meetings, release your creativity which can help your engaging
Be kind in your on-line communication: quickly discharged emails ‘on the go’ create a boomerang effect which can spoil your day
Listen to music as you get through the day: whatever keeps you joyful
Examen: I use a contemplative prayer at the end of most days to review my day: what am I grateful for and imagine my day tomorrow focusing on intentional moments of love and joy
Which of these am I already doing?
Are there any others which might be helpful to try?
I love checklists. On my desk, I have task lists for the day and the week ahead. On my wall is my yearly calendar with medium to long term tasks. My mobile phone gets in on the act with notifications and reminders. I like checklists because they remind me of the things to do. When we tick off a task, our brains release a feel-good achievement chemical, which can become workaholism addiction. I’m aware that checklists can quickly take over control and dictate my life’s rhythm.
Steven Covey introduced us to the Urgent and Important time matrix. Checklists are useful for highlighting urgent task (Chronos time). But the more critical assignments in our lives mostly do not work according to task checklists. They are based on Kairos timing, which is connected to deeper purpose and seasons in our lives. Sometimes, they might even be an interruption to our logical plans. We need discernment, a spiritual sense of knowing, when to do what is right, and the best time. Discernment requires patience and giving up control, inviting us into a place of intuition and deep rest.
As former US President Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”
What is most important to me this week in my various life roles?
How will I create space for unexpected, essential things?