The White Flag: Called and Equipped to do much.

One of the significant activities God has been leading me into over the last 5 months is the process of ‘stepping out of ministry’. This has been an interesting time and I’ve learnt a lot. I wanted to share a bit of that journey and what it’s all been like.

Since October 2017, I have been doing what I called ‘bi-vocational’ ministry. I was working 9-5 for Cancer Research UK in their clinical trials unit, and at the same time running a student ministry with Navigators UK. It was great fun, it was a great challenge, it had it’s ups and downs like any ministry endeavour – but it was incredibly rewarding.

My average day started around 4.30-5am with all the regular routines and disciplines I needed to sustain me through the day (quiet times, exercise, reading and study), then I’d be out to meet with a small group of students on campus at around 8. We’d often simply read our Bibles and pray together. A fantastic way to start a working day, a fantastic way to approach discipleship, a fantastic way to grow friendships. Meeting daily in the mornings, you really do get to see each other on good and bad days – weaknesses exposed, yet together meeting to encourage each other and bring our days before God.

Then I’d be at work. I might meet someone at lunch (the trials unit was based at the university!). Then, depending on the weekday – I’d either be meeting a student 1-on-1, attending/leading/hosting a Bible study. It was busy. But being in my early twenties I have/had a lot of energy and time to spare for these good endeavours.

After a year at this pace, I added to my life FFM (Foundations For Ministry – a 3 year training course with Navs) and my wife and I took up our Church’s youth group’s mid-week gathering. Wow. Oh, and on top of all that, I was being allowed to preach once a month at Church (something I deeply cherish, and feel so honoured by!)…. Looking back on all this, it sounds like too much. But honestly, God sustained me.

I held firmly onto two verses which inspired and motivated and kept us both going…

“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me!” – Col 1.28-29 (which continues beautifully and relevantly into chapter 2!)

“Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight;” – Ecc 11:2 (I felt God give me this verse one morning in my quiet time, it also came with the word: there is a difference between investing and managing)

With these verses, which I genuinely believe God gave me, I was encouraged to do all the many works I felt He was asking me to do. He put the work before me, and then enabled me to do it. I would say to myself, and to anyone else, that they really shouldn’t do as much as I was doing, unless God has specifically called them to it – and to remember – He probably won’t call you to it permanently.

…And then at Christmas 2018, we felt very clearly God was telling us to start drawing back…

 

Unclogging the river: dumping the leaves

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Sometimes, I just need to get a quick update done on my blog page before I can carry on again. Like pushing all the leaves in the drain out the way to get the water flowing again (and that’s as creative a picture I paint). Hopefully this will be it. Not very pretty, eloquent but it’s hits the nail on the head…So:

I got a job! God provided at just the right time. I work for Cancer Research now at the university I was working with Navs. This is ultra convenient because I can carry on meeting with the students in my new role. Hopefully, my prayer is, I can model this stage of life well.

I’ve been in the role for two weeks now, and enjoyed settling into routine! I arrive on campus for 8am for a quiet time before work starts at 9. It’s a perfect job, and so far, I love it. Feel really blessed to have it, and looking forward to getting to know the people there. I work in a small office, with 4 other people who are all really nice and have welcomed me into the room.

My aim is to start applying for a long distance, part time learning Master’s in theology or divinity to start Sept 18, to do alongside my work. But we will have to see. I recently read a book on simple church called the Rabbit and the Elephant and it’s begun to challenge my perception of what leadership and church actually is/are. Probably more in detail later.

Just about catching up with my reading objectives for 2017, a book a week, currently 6 books behind schedule. But I got 3/4 on the go. Utilising my walks to work and back for audio book listening, and my lunch breaks for the biography. Will be starting the new russell brand book on recovery (all about addictions) should be an interesting and funny read (if its anything like his last one) with my workouts (which by the way are going well!).

What else? Oh, it’s my birthday tomorrow. Probably reason for a renewal of motivation!

Drain unclogged!

 

 

 

Unemployed…

The good news is, I have done 10 exercise days this month. And I did 8 at the end of last month… Which means I’m getting back into the habit after a very ‘lazy’ and busy summer. I’ve started listening to self help audio books from my audible alongside the exercise times so the hours feels right-proper productive. Still no Greek learning has taken place for a good few months and my Grudem’s bookmark remains on page 200-something. 

 The bad news is I am still unemployed. For those who don’t really know me…I chose to stop work with the Navigators officially after a year – despite them being a pretty awesome charity. Anyone off to Uni in UK at Southampton, Birmingham, Aston, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh or St. Andrews or maybe somewhere I forgot – you should look them out. Salvaged my faith in first year, them and the amazing rep at Birmingham. Anyway… Yep, not working with them anymore officially anyway. Still planning meetings, doing 1 on 1s,  and working with Student leaders – just passing the baton a bit more. Delegation.good word. Good idea.

The unemployed journey is difficult, slow and horrid. All you have is lots of free time, which you can’t enjoy because you gotta get a job. All the while a silent clock is tick tocking its way to a zero balance on your bank statement. Tick tock. Honestly things aren’t that bad, we got a few months financial cushion because of Gods superb provision in the last month! Still day to day is fairly painful.

Leave early with wife, get to uni – free WiFi for applications. 8am Morning £1 coffee from Starbucks with free refill for afternoon. Quiet time, journal, brt done by 9. Then application, email, application…  12 lunch with a 2 hour Netflix session. If I’m unemployed might as well enjoy a long lunch break. Good films on UK Netflix if your asking me (regarding Henry, Steve jobs and the firm) stay tuned for more…anyway then its back to applications before home around 5/6. Day well spent. 
Unlike normal work day, unemployed work has very little visible payback. Other than the job you get at the end. So it does feel like you are investing a lot of your time in things that don’t work out. I guess this frustration with my “work” is part of the sin curse: Gen 3:17-19. But it is difficult.

Ramblings…anyway there’s another icebreaker from a long silent blogging break. 

All that being said I have an interview next Monday! Please pray – its a job I would quite like…

Perseverance in exercise

My first, and probably last post of October…my blogging effort has been pretty pants lately. Part of it has been the busyness of my work, part of it has been finding structure, another is different priorities and the remainder is bulk laziness. So its with great hypocrisy that I write this post entitled: Perseverance.

I’ve been hearing the word a lot lately and it keep resonating – in a good way. I want to share how perseverance, a word which I struggle to spell every time and am resorting to right click the red squiggly line, is important in my life.

Since college/6th form I have been very interested in “working out”, by this I mean using weights and building muscle. I bought my first set of 10kg dumbbells when I was 17, because I had recently started my first serious relationship (with my now wife) – and I wanted to impress her. Throughout my two years at college I worked out about 4-5 times a week depending when my “rest” days were, very consistently. It was great to have a hobby I could seriously invest in. By the end of college I had bought another set of weights and was watching and learning a lot about exercise. Including vlogs from youtube fitness channels such as Elliot Hulse, the Hodgetwins and Sean Thompson.

By the time I was half way through my first year at Uni, my “home gym” had grown to a bench, pull-up bar and EZ-Bar. And I was still going at 4-5 times a week, now with a steady diet – counting calories and downing protein shakes…

Then new year came 2014 and for no apparent reason I stopped. Consistency stopped. I would exercise 4-5 times a week for about 2 weeks then have a month “off”. I couldn’t keep the habit going for longer than a month. But I was invested, I’d bought the equipment, I’d learnt lots and lots of knowledge about how many reps/sets and fitness terms…

I got Engaged. Then married. Still no consistency. Lots of attempts to start up again, but nothing lasting.

Then a couple of months ago I joined a gym. Hoping that maybe by having to leave the house, paying a monthly fee and seeing a familiar crowd training would keep me going…Well, it worked. For the last two months I’ve been in my gym 4-5 (mostly 4) times a week training!

Perseverance, in my opinion is less about consistency and getting it right every time. But still trying to work it all out in the face of continuing failure. I wouldn’t say I’ve been consistent in “working out” the last 4 1/2 years, not by a long shot, but I have persevered in figuring out what system will work for me.

I am aiming to leave the gym I’m at now and slowly transfer back to using the “home gym”. Life’s circumstances at the moment mean that I’m leaving the house at 6.30am most mornings and returning around 5pm most evenings. Because Monday, Wednesday and Sunday evenings I’m involved with various groups, the only set-time I will be able to “work out” consistently will be in the mornings. So I have resolved that if I wake up at 5am I will exercise at home, if later e.g 5.30 or 6 I will go to the gym. My plan being that eventually I will nail 5am wake ups. As of now, I will use the gym to be my crutch until I am able to motivate myself enough at home.

This is one example of per-sever-ance in my life. Perseverance I finally learnt a way to spell it right every time!

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