Often times it is so easy to get stuck in the grind. Where life is so busy, and stress is so ever present, that we can forget what we are working towards. Being super busy and super stressed is super draining, and eventually damages our souls, relationships and ministries. One of the more compelling, counter-balancing concepts that I’ve run into the last few years is the idea of flourishing. Fleshing out what flourishing looks like can inspire, and create possibilities of a life that is pleasing to live–and pleasing to the Lord. Read on if you happen to care about those things. :)
What is Flourishing, Anyway?
Let me provide a brief definition I’ve been working on of late.
Flourishing is living in grace, with a surrendered heart, becoming more like Jesus, bearing rich and abundant fruit, and enjoying a richer peace, joy and happiness more and more of the time.
Phew! That is a big definition! And, the wild thing is that it is work to flourish. It certainly doesn’t happen naturally.
Briefly, what I’m driving at with the definition of flourishing is a life that is increasingly rooted and established in love, in such a way, that fear, stress, organizational politics, and the other tools of the dark have less and less power. Yes, less and less power. Peace, joy and gratitude are becoming better and better friends of yours, and you spend more and more time together, as you actually do become more like Jesus. And what is even more striking is that the people you are leading and serving are actually seeing more of Him in you–without you even trying. (I do know some people that are actually like this.) Wouldn’t those things be nice to enjoy more and more of the time?
Fleshing out Flourishing a bit More.
I would like to indulge a bit here and perhaps test your sense for possibilities. Let’s say you’re a senior pastor. If you were to be flourishing, (which I hope you’ve felt at least sometimes), these are some of the things that would be happening for you, more and more more.
- You are seeing people come to the Lord through your prayerful efforts, and through the prayerful efforts of your staff.
- Your church is growing at a really nice pace, as your church connects better with your area.
- Your leaders, and the broader church culture are getting healthier and more mature.
- You are seeing more and more people truly flourish and mature through your interpersonal influence in their lives.
- There is more and more healthy laughter and play in your key teams.
- You are constructively navigating conflict in ways that are bringing life to people and your organization. Honest!
- Your spouse and children are doing really well–growing closer to the Lord and becoming more mature.
- And, you are enjoying your relationships with them more and more too.
And you. What about you? Well, believe it or not,
- You have consistently strong energy levels.
- You are feeling encouraged, grounded, and confident more and more of the time.
- Your level of intimacy with your family and close friends is getting deeper and richer as you move toward healthier, more mature relationships.
- You are growing at a nice, stable pace, which brings a sweet level of fulfillment to your life.
- You are also becoming masterful at self-care, building nice rhythms of renewal and relaxation into your days, weeks and years, which is critical to enabling you to experience more and more of the above.
- And, actually, most importantly, because of how you are following Him, and making consistent room for Him through life-giving disciplines (including renewal!), God and His goodness, love and power are becoming more and more real to you. Your relationship with Him is becoming more and more meaningful and transformational. It is the undeniable foundation for your life in more and more ways, and is the source for all of the beautiful things above.
- Boy, life is really good. Practically as good as it can be in a fallen world.
And, if you happen to be in another role, switch out a couple things early on about the role, and imagine all the rest being true for you. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Other Ministry Realities
Now, before you get all critical and skeptical about my ideas, I know life in ministry is hard. I know that that real ministry involves suffering and sacrifice…and some people may be called to make the ultimate sacrifice. Those things are real, and may God give all of us the grace to obey should we face trials beyond our limited experience here in America.
The Ideal when not being Persecuted and Other Provocative Ideas
I know this may sound idealistic to some, if not many of you, yet I do believe that God longs for us as His leaders, to gradually move towards richer flourishing, as we mature in Him. I will say more about this topic over time, Lord willing, but one thing for sure is that it doesn’t make sense that Jesus would call the people in the pews to fullness and not call His pastors to fullness. For fullness to be real, for flourishing to be real, God must want his leaders to know it (just because He values them so much), and because if the leaders are not experiencing it, why in the world would the followers be inclined to think that what Jesus said could actually be real?
My Wish for You
I do hope these ideas were thought-provoking. I do pray they grab you, and that the Holy Spirit will pester you to help you discern what is from God and what isn’t. My hunch is that God longs for you to flourish more than you realize. And, your followers (at least your healthy followers) long for you to live it, to show them a life that is rich and full and meaningful in ways that are beyond what than they can imagine.
May God clearly guide you into His good dreams, and give you the wisdom and strength to follow His call and not the call of knee-jerk, short-sighted, soul-draining reactions. There is no life there.
Blessings to you.