I've been really tired for a long time. Like don't clean the house until you trip over stuff tired.
So I’ve been missing in action for a month or so. I’m fine with that in this case. My first calling is to be a husband and father, then youth ministry coordinator, then sharing that mission online. It is good sometimes to be forced into a break to remember that.
I was one of a few key organizers of a week of national and regional meetings for Youth Ministry in Canada, along with hosting our National Youth Ministry Conference. It was a resounding success thanks to God and the great team we had. About two years of many sleepless nights brought forth much fruit.
But man was I tired! Sure I’ve been able to take a bunch of time off and watch Canada own the Olympics … but I learned a valuable lesson that last morning of the conference.
Falling Asleep is Biblical
I had my own little experience of being an apostle falling asleep in the garden. Except the person in the role of Jesus needed to catch a plane. I fell asleep and missed my alarm when it mattered most. Jesus needed to hail a cab.
It was a long night before with a beautiful banquet and auction, followed by a dance that was so EPIC the smoke machine set off the fire alarm after midnight. By the time I got done with the Fire Department, locking up, and chauffeuring some folks to socialize I got to bed close to 4am. I thought, “Quick nap, then drop off Jesus at the airport” (not my exact words).
My next conscious thought was around 7:47AM with my eyes waking to sunlight on my face. The shock, horror, panic, stumbling and shouting that happened the next 3 minutes is now the stuff legends are made of. I woke my 3 year old in tears, scared my wife half to death in the bathroom, and fell up the stairs twice. To quote,
"You were an incoherent lunatic and walking zombie" - my wife
After checking my messages and rushing late to church I slowly came to realize all was well enough and that he took a cab and didn’t miss his flight. I wasn’t a complete failure. But I did learn two important lessons.
Sure my Bishop preaches this over and over with his motto by Thomas Merton, “Mercy within mercy, within mercy”. But it was a powerful reminder that day. I had every reason to be shamed, feel like a failure (my expertise), and have this overshadow all the good that we had accomplished that week.
Eventually I got over my guilt to send a message with my sincere apologies. There was no getting around it, I blew it. Just like those apostles trying to follow a very simple instruction, “stay awake”. The beautiful and simple response was such a relief to me. Not over the top with ten layers of catholic guilt – just mercy.
It got me thinking – how often are our children and youth we parent and minister to just requiring piles of mercy? It doesn’t mean we ignore the mistakes, or fail to correct or teach. But above all first we require mercy and forgiveness to liberate, empower, and allow us to grow.
It was also essential for me to accept it. I could have stayed at my pity party, but I needed to accept mercy, learn from it, and share it. I look to Peter as that example of a failure who manages to accept God’s mercy to be the leader Christ appointed him to be.
#Humbled! Pace Yourself.
I also learned about pacing my workload, energy, and effort. Looking back 12 months I slacked for weeks on some details, only to go about 22 hrs/day the last week. Sure that’s impressive in a sense, but it is also foolish.
When you are so rushed, even if you work well under pressure like I do, you’re bound to fall asleep at the wrong time. I fell asleep at a critical moment that could have been avoided. Especially when late the night before an offer was made to relieve me of that final duty – but hubris got the best of me. I thought, I’ve gone this far – I’ll finish the job! That’s when God came and lay the smack down; #Humbled!
I’ve realized I need to take more time to prepare and lay a course and a pace for my work and life that allows me to be effective but humble. That way perhaps I can pay attention more to accept help and mercy offered along the way. So to all those helpers I shunned and in my pride ignored; accept my apologies as a young man still learning to live.
Is there a situation in your life you require or need to show more mercy in? How well do you pace yourself in your work and responsibilities? Use the hashtag #humbled to share a story of how God has taught you humility!