Leadership Devotion - October 2016 - "Cause, Why?"

2 Peter 3:18 “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”

It never ceases to amaze me how many times a day my almost three-year-old can ask the question, “‘Cause, why?” Now, plenty of people had told me about the “why” phase of toddlers, but for those of you who have lived through it, you know that talking about it and actually having to answer 10,000 questions a day is very different. As much as I might grow weary of continuously answering my little guy, I remain awed by his insatiable wonder about the world. I know that the “why” phase doesn’t last forever, but I hope his curiosity does.

There is much to wonder at in this world. God has done good work in this old creation. But God’s good work is not just in nature – it is also in the amazing workings of the human spirit and the way that we relate to God and to one another. I am continuously amazed at how much there is to learn about what it means to live in faith and how to best care for one another. There seems to be no end to the nuances of human relationship. God created us this way and I figure the more I can learn about how people relate, the more effective I am in my vocations – both at home and in the church.

Continuing to learn about the current culture and the latest “trends” in faith make my call in ministry more effective. For example, to learn that young people are yearning for authenticity and individual connection rather than showy productions and anonymity changes how I approach ministry with them. Continuing in dialogue with multiple generations and people who study this stuff for a living is so helpful when I am looking to connect with my college-age summer staff and other young adults in ministry. Without continuing to learn I would be missing the mark in many ways. I have to remind myself of this since it is more comfortable to think “people are people” and what worked to relate before will work now. Truthfully, though, people are dynamic – changing – growing – emerging; and I am called to respond to that.

As much as I want my toddler to keep up the desire to learn, I want to continue kindling my own. Christ does not change, but how and where we meet Him and how we come to understand God’s work in our lives can. Paul prayed in Ephesians that God’s Spirit would continue working in God’s people “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

My encouragement for you is this: Being rooted in God’s love, how can you continue growing in your understanding of discipleship and fullness of faith? Where do you have room to grow?

Is it in your own faith? Perhaps revisiting some Bible studies or the Catechism you studied as a young adult? Is it in your ministry or church life? Looking at trends in worship or current ecumenical discussions? Is it in personal relationships? Maybe an enneagram study or a study of family systems to better know yourself and those around you? “‘Cause, why?”, you may ask. Well, I believe God has called us all in faith to be in relationship with God and with one another. Growing in our understandings of those calls grounds us and prepares us for living as God’s disciples every day.

Loving God, send your Spirit of wisdom to your children. Foster a desire to continue growing in faith and understanding of your work in our lives. Draw us out as disciples to effectively share your Word and care for one another in this old world. Amen.

Pastor Paula Lawhead is the chairperson of the Nebraska Synod's Leadership Development Table and serves as pastor for Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries.