“My schedule should be far less about what I have to get done than who I want to become.” (Pastor, Bill Hybels)
I’ve found fresh inspiration in the above quote. It’s particularly helpful in this time between New Year’s resolutions and Ash Wednesday’s Lenten disciplines. Bill Hybel’s approach to personal scheduling transforms a mundane to-do list into a ritual of spiritual formation.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If I want to become healthier, I should schedule exercise, nutrition, sleep or a visit to my doctor. If I want to become more confident in the way I manage money, I should schedule a meeting with a financial planner or attendance at a seminar or a regular review of my income, expenses and investments. If I want to become more aware of myself as a spiritual being, I should schedule prayer, creativity, Bible study and conversation with other spiritual seekers.
If I think seriously about these things and make a committed decision about when and where to act on them, I’m more likely to follow through on my plan. As I consistently follow through, I begin to see the positive changes manifesting themselves in my life and I realize the power of my thoughts, words and deeds. My schedule is no longer a woeful testimony to busy-ness. My schedule reminds me that life is a gift and that what I do with it matters.
The same discipline can be applied to our church calendar. Are we learning new skills, opening ourselves up to a fresh Word from God? Are we as welcoming as we can be? Have we let slide disciplines and traditions that are foundational to our identity? Are we holding on to things that are holding us back? We need to deeply consider who God calls us to become as a congregation and schedule ourselves in ways that will bring that vision to life.
The spiritual implications of scheduling are nothing new. We see it in St. Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus where he writes: “Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. Wake up from your sleep, Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light! So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.” (Ephesians 11-16, The Message)
We will help each other grow into the image of God. We will share our visions and schedules with one another. We will pray for and be present with one another in all seasons of life. We will share our successes, failures, time and talent. We will invite others to do the same. And in all of this, the Kingdom of God is revealed and we are truly alive.