Friday, August 29, 2014

Cutting Corners

School officially starts next week for me and Chandler. It starts in three weeks for Graham. And David doesn't start back up until the middle of October. In France, this time of year is called, "La RentrĂ©e" or literally, "The Re-entry” –which makes me think of spaceships suffering enormous stress, violent shaking, and scorching flames upon re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. Yeah, that's pretty much what La RentrĂ©e feels like to me.

As I begin work on my Master’s degree, I will also continue most of my regular (full-time) ministry responsibilities. She who prefers to fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants has just spent two days meticulously entering reading assignments, writing assignments, and test dates into her agenda, not to mention preaching schedules, conference preparations, and meetings with my language helper. Because I had to figure out where it all fit.

But it doesn’t all fit.


During orientation at George Fox, the Dean of the Seminary said, “It’s not a question of whether or not you will have to cut corners. It’s a question of where you will cut corners.”

I’m not really a corner-cutter.

I’m more of a get up early, stay up late, do-whatever-it-takes kind of person.

But you see, if I stick with that plan, the corners that get cut will be cut by default rather than by design. By default, my sleep (and ultimately my health) will get cut. By default, my marriage and friendships will get cut. By default, my relationship with God, my peace, and my joy will get cut. All the things that don’t have a time-slot in my handy-dandy digital agenda will get cut.

In his book, Choosing to Cheat, Andy Stanley makes the same observation that the Dean of my seminary made—that is, that life is so full we are all going to cheat someone or something. For those of us in ministry, it’s especially easy to cheat the wrong things. Because our work has eternal significance, we wrongly give it unregulated space and time in our lives. It’s not that the work isn’t important, it’s that we need to keep it in perspective. God doesn’t call us to neglect our own spiritual formation, our physical health, or the care of our families. Stanley points out that each of us are replaceable within our ministries, but irreplaceable to our families. That is to say, GEM can find another missionary to do my job, but I’m the only wife David has.

And so I need to cut corners by design.

For me, that means stepping away from one of my local ministry responsibilities, delegating some other responsibilities, and setting time limits for my coursework—because when I am reading and writing and studying I can lose all track of time. That means I will do the very best work that I can during the hours that I have scheduled for my classes, and when that time is up, I will simply stop. That might mean I get a B instead of an A.


But a B with a happy marriage, a health body, and a thriving soul is better than an A with a strained marriage, a flabby body, and a starving soul. No doubt about it.

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