Though I don't have the time for it, there is a book on my shelf that keeps calling my name. In truth, there are MANY books on my shelf that cry out for attention. I have a book reading addiction. Due to my required readings for the Academy and classes, I don't always get around to reading my "fun" books. [I did finish Falling Upward by Richard Rohr a couple of weeks back on our vacation. I will share thoughts on it another time. Great book!]
The book that has called my attention several times is Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry by Ruth Haley Barton. I bought it in October 2011, after seeing it at a friend's house and flipping through it. But, I haven't read it yet. I keep picking it up, flipping through it, and putting it down. Today, I read through some of the poems and quotes and glanced at a chapter. There are quotes by Palmer Parker, Gerald May and poems by Ted Loder (among others). I'm looking forward to reading this book.
The points in the chapter "Living Within Limits" caught my attention. They were about what happens to us when we are not living within the limits of grace, but rather exceeding them. I think we all tend to take on more than we ought, get less help than we could, and rely more on our own strength at times than on God's. But since I'm writing, I'll speak for myself. Some days, I can live it pretty well. Other days, I'm on the edge and not living within limits. It's a matter of staying grounded in the spiritual disciplines (practices), of taking care of my soul, of being deeply connected with my Creator. And, when life is going too fast and I don't take time to be still or be in solitude, then I am in danger of being off track on the journey.
Here are the points in the chapter that show "we are dangerously depleted and may be functioning beyond human limitations" (104):
[found on pages 104-106]
- irratability or hypersensitivity
- compulsive overworking
- emotional numbness
- escapist behaviors
- disconnected from our identity and calling
- not able to attend to human needs
- hoarding energy
- slippage in our spiritual practices
Moses was challenged by Jethro (Exodus 18:17-18) to share the load because that was what was causing Moses to be overly stretched.... NOT sharing the load. Whether it is sharing the load, taking time to be still, taking some time to get away and refocusing, etc., it is important for us all to recognize our limitations and to attempt to live within the limits.
We also all need at least one Jethro in our lives to hold us accountable, to speak truth to us, to help us see what we might not be willing or able to see. Find a Jethro, be a Jethro.
On your journey, take time to make sure you're living with your limitations. The grace of God can carry you and help you get back on track when you're off it. I know this from experience. It's a normal part of the journey, at least for me, to attempt to find the fine balance of living within my human limitations and allowing God to work in and through me.
Blessings on living within the limits on your journey,