Recently in this space I have been looking at a particular example of so-called horizontal worship, encouragement from and to members of the Body of Christ. Part 1 of this blog post detailed why I feel so strongly about this, especially for those of us in leadership. In a nutshell, the enemy hates our efforts and will aim arrows of discouragement our way at every opportunity; regularly hearing (or reading) words of encouragement from believers whose opinions we trust and whose thoughts are important to us often serves as an onward-Christian-soldiers boost to our morale, steeling us for the tasks to which our Lord has called us.
I use phrases beginning with the letters BUILD to flesh out this concept. B, covered last week, stands for Believe universally the best about one another. Doing so makes it much more likely that we can muster up the energy required to be encouraging to each other on a regular basis. It also helps us follow the Scriptural mandate to treat others as if they were more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3).
U stands for Unlock regularly the fortress of your schedule. I wish I could recount stories of how successfully I have practiced what I preach here, but any such stories would be lies, for I struggle with this big time. I make it a policy to leave my office door open any time I am in and without a scheduled meeting, but, truth be told, I would just as soon keep the door shut. As a general rule, I juggle too many projects, and uninterrupted time in the office, with its opportunity to free me up to push electronic papers, is the only way to keep those projects all in the air (to extend the metaphor).
But, of course, an open-door policy attracts folks who want to talk. I am ashamed to admit how many times I have given good eye contact to a student, nodding my head at appropriate intervals, all the while with my mind racing, wondering when I’m going to get to the work this student’s unscheduled visit interrupted. Rather than detail other depressing anecdotes of my failures here, let me just point to Jesus, our ultimate example.
Luke 5 is one chapter from Scripture (any number of others would work, too) that illustrates the point. The NLT divides the text into five stories, combining miracles, the call of Levi (Matthew), and teaching about fasting. What strikes me about each account is that it very much appears as if none of them had been planned in advance. In other words, Jesus’ ministry flowed out of His being very present in the moment and not driven by the first-century version of a Day-Timer.
In verses 1-11, Jesus’ instructions to Peter come at the end of what seems to have been a typical teaching session. In verses 12-15, Jesus heals the man with leprosy following a random meeting. In verses 17-26, friends of a paralytic go to ridiculous lengths to help him meet Jesus, who was busy teaching at the time. In verses 27-32, Jesus calls Levi while leaving town and on the way to another destination. And in verses 33-39, Jesus’ teaching on fasting comes not as part of a sermon but as a response to a question posed by the crowd.
In other words, none of the five stories features as its focal point Jesus following through with an established meeting, appointment, or responsibility. Every single story, instead, features as its focal point our Lord (who would have had every reason to employ a personal secretary to help Him manage his daily comings and goings) responding spontaneously, randomly, serendipitously to people and events that come to Him in the moment . . . and with no apparent angst for the interruption or the bother. What a model for all of us.
My friend Judy Bjorklund, with whom the Judson University Choir ministered in Jamaica this past May, was so fond of the following adage that we christened it the Bjorklund Beatitude: “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape.” May that be said of us, O Lord!
Next week, Lord willing, we’ll look at the I in BUILD. Until then, the Lord be with you!