A confession: I am a recovering addict. I’m not sure when it first began, but like any addiction, it crept into my life under false pretenses. It created in me a built-in mechanism that produced thoughts and actions, veiled under the guise of altruism, which day by day allured me deeper into its grasp. From time to time it crops up again. Like any addict, over the years I have said things like “It’s not that bad,” “Other people are much worse,” “I can quit at any time,” and “I’m not hurting anybody.”
What is the addiction? It is one shared by many in my line of work. Several years ago, my wife named my condition “achiever disease.” It manifests itself in the utterance of two simple words, on their own benign, but together they reveal a deep-seated “drive” that can turn into a monster.
Thinking back to college and seminary, seven consecutive grueling years of syllabi, mid-terms, projects, finals, and validation based upon my ability to anticipate and execute “what’s next,” I can see how these patterns developed. Post-seminary I jumped straight into departmental ministry at a large church, and the same “at a boy” I got for producing in school was afforded to me when ministries grew, events improved, people connected, and momentum picked up. I can still remember my first year as a youth pastor in this environment, when I called a good friend who was a veteran in large church ministry, and I peppered him with questions about how he survived week after week through the grind of a vocation where your work is never finished. I can’t remember what he said.
There are some aspects of this condition that help me in my line of work, but I’ve found over the years that if I’m not careful and accountable, “What’s Next?” has the capacity to destroy me and those around me. In recent years, through tuning my eyes and ears to the rhythm of those with much more wisdom and experience in these areas, I believe I have found an answer to this condition. It is a discipline that I have to intentionally work into my life. Like any discipline, it’s not easy or comfortable or natural for me. But it is incredibly necessary. I’m talking about the discipline of celebration.
When “What’s Next?” turns into “What’s Past” I have to stop, breath, and look back before I look forward.
I have to remember that the same Apostle Paul who said “I beat my body and make it my slave so that in the end I will not be disqualified” and “I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus;” also said, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,” and “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I will say, rejoice!” The same David who took on the giant, expanded the kingdom, and laid the groundwork for the Temple, danced before the Lord and wrote hundreds of anthems extolling and celebrating the greatness of God which are still sung by God’s people nearly 3,000 years later. The same Moses who led God’s people out of slavery, composed a song of praise celebrating God’s grace and power after He brought them through the Red Sea.
Our last several weeks at LifePoint we have been praying, fasting, giving, building, and working toward the goal of expanding our ability to equip the church to be the church. Hundreds of people participated. Yesterday, on Easter Sunday, we saw the culmination of the work. Over $50,000 dollars was given in the last 9 weeks to this initiative. Scores of people had the opportunity to participate and use their skills to serve the church in new ways for the first time. In our gatherings yesterday we sang multiple songs written and produced by the people of LifePoint (in the last three months) as Clarensau released the 7-song album Death Met Grace. Seventeen people went public with their faith in Jesus by getting baptized. On Saturday a couple thousand people from our community were blessed and served through our annual Easter Egg outreach event. Through “To Be The Church,” LifePoint rallied together and took major strides into our future by accomplishing a specific vision. We celebrated Easter Sunday with the largest attendance at LifePoint in over a decade, as we got to witness the fruit of what Jesus is doing in and through His church.
This week we need to take some time to celebrate. Before we turn our eyes toward “What’s Next,” we have to rest and rejoice in what God has done. Throughout this week we’re going to look back a little bit here on 2thesource as we celebrate together.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. 16 With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. 17 O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. 18 So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.