It’s been awhile since my last blog, so to remind you, I’ve been talking about the Stout Monk Society. A few have said they have started one or are going to try and get into one. I’m hoping that they will. I think it is imperative for not just surviving, but thriving in ministry life. I thought I would tell you some of what happened in our SMS this May.
My Stout Monk Society was so good. We all connected in a house in Canada. Here are some notes I jotted to myself from our four days. We each took turns leading our brothers in a brief ‘word’. One ‘word’ was from 2 Cor. 1:8,9, on the hardships we suffer….
“This happened that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead”.
We were asked to recognize our sufferings. What are the hardships in my life? Confess where I am relying on myself/my own strategies—what does self-reliance look like to me? Next, to rejoice in Jesus, our resurrected Hope!
One Monk asked us to consider the maladies of people who can discourage us in ministry.
1. People who lack/lose interest in what is happening- remember the disciples fell asleep on Jesus. “Don’t base your love and service to Christ on their commitment.” Invest hard in those who are serving, celebrate them. Careful you do not fall trap to cynicism—you may not know their full story right now.
2. People who betray you- there will be some you have invested in and they end up turning on you. Peter’s betrayal. Be careful not to demonize them, but pray for them. “Working through this experience is one of the most important means of your sanctification”.
3. People who abandon Christianity. Judas types. They drift away, or they love the world more or turn to a scandalous life. Can the gospel give you grace to greet them warmly and not erase them from your life? Will you let yourself grieve?
4. People who assault you, your character or motives.
5. People who are hostile to Christianity. There will be some who have incessant harshness toward Christians. Your kids will be mocked for their values etc. “Cultural Transformation without Spiritual warfare is an impossible exercise in futility”.
Another day we heard about our relationships with other men. We were asked to answer the question, “Are you a relational pygmy …
1. …when it comes to other men?” Isolation of men in our culture is epidemic. We keep our friendships surface level—sports, career, the market, maybe politics. “The more you involve yourself in the life of another man, your selfish bent is de-clawed.” Then he asked the tough one: Who are your pall bearers going to be? Which six people? [This reminded of the story of the guy who asked his small group, suppose you are lying in your casket and your friends are coming up and looking at you. What would you want them to say? One guy said, ‘That I was a good father,” another said, “A good friend.” Last man said, “I would want them to say, “Look, he’s moving!”
2. …in your relationship with your wife?” (I won’t share this one with you readers).
Another, and this is not all of them, but some samplings… How much More passages. We were reminded—How much more we will be saved from God’s anger; How much more we will be reconciled through His life; How much more did God’s grace overflow: How much more will those who receive God’s abundant grace and gift or righteousness reign in life; How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit!
See why I think meeting with some others will help you now?