Shownotes: 3 Reasons why You Need Speed Bumps Today in Ministry
Have you ever been going quickly along when you were jolted by a speed bump? The authorities who put them there decided that we need them to keep us and others from harm. Well-built speed bumps get your attention, make you slow down, and make you more aware of where you are. You need speed bumps to avoid carelessness about our well-being and the well-being of others.
We may get side-tracked. The speed bumps sound a note of caution bringing us to an awareness of our surroundings. In addition, when we are cruising along a brisk pace and suddenly the speed limit changes, decreases, we can miss it. We miss that we have entered a space with more people, especially children. The speed bump will cause us to slow down and pay attention.
You need speed bumps, we need speed bumps in our lives, spiritual speed bumps, that is, otherwise we will travel heedlessly along. This is easy to do, especially now as we move into the school year with the pace picking up or in the process of picking up at our churches and various ministries.
The summer slump is over and it is full steam ahead. This is an exciting time, no doubt. It’s nice to have everybody back at church, in the ministry and have that sense of buzz and busyness that can be fulfilling. Foot on the gas, straight ahead. As you press on the gas to go forward, the question is, do you need speed bumps and do you need them today?
Revving up and pressing the gas pedal, the accelerator, without speed bumps in place as you kick off this new season in your church’s life is fraught with danger. Let’s look at 3 reasons why you need these speed bumps so that you and your church, your ministry have a great year ahead with God, each other, and out in the world:
Reason #1 Why You Need Speed Bumps in Ministry—Missing people
It is easy to miss people in ministry even though you are dealing with them all the time. There is a long list of with people at different levels, in different ways. You interact with people all the time. How could you miss them?
Here are two ways in which this could happen
#1. People can become blended into the details of ministry, becoming part of the cogs in the machinery. We can start to see them in relation to how they fit into things like vision, mission, and goal rather than for themselves. Are they fulfilling these things? Are they doing their part?
As important as these questions are they miss the well being of these same people. What is their health like—spiritual, physical, emotional, etc? If they are not participating, why are they not participating? Without these questions, we are missing the people. Without speed bumps, we may not even ask these questions and move on to the next willing set of people, the next program and ignore what may well be signs of spiritual disease.
#2. We miss people’s pain and struggles. They put up a good face when they show up to church. Without the speed bumps we may be going so fast that we miss signs of pain and struggle.
Speaking about disease and pain and struggle, what about yours? Are you missing you? You see, we also need the speed bump to regularly examine where we are with God, get our physical, emotional and spiritual check in. Ill health of any sort in a pastor or other ministry leader is contagious. Thank God for grace, but, we need to build some speed bumps so that we do not miss people or ourselves.
Reason #2 Why You Need Speed Bumps in Ministry— Sidetracked
Here is the thing. In spite of all our good intentions, life, and particularly ministry is filled with the unpredictable. There are things over which we have no control.
We get sidetracked in terms of what we are to do—the day-to-day aspect of things. We miss some things, they get left behind, we lose sight of our priorities. Then, we are playing catch up, caught in a never-ending loop. We also get sidetracked in terms of the vision, mission, and goals.
Moreover, when we are sidetracked we are in danger of missing what is right in front of us.
When we move from thing to thing, from the planned to the unplanned . . . well to the anything and everything, you name it, it is easy to get sidetracked from what God has set out for us to do.
It is not only the unplanned that throws us off. Sometimes we get sidetracked by our thoughts, by something someone did, or something someone said. Often it is the little things that throw us off when it comes to what we hear and what we think. We allow one little comment to mess with our heads, mess with our day, mess with our spirits. Without speed bumps, these suck the life out of us, out of our ministry.
Reason #3 Why You Need Speed Bumps in Ministry—Forgetting to slow down
Life is hectic. Every one is busy around you. The people to whom we minister are living life at crazy pace. We are trying to keep up. We’re also trying to hold their attention in a time of short attention spans and many options. We can easily forget to slow down, or think we can’t.
Sometimes we do need an accelerated pace. What happens when we fail to slow down?
Consider the car. You know. What happens when we forget to take it in for a tune up? Or, what happens when you forget to stop at the gas station to put in gas and you keep driving? We know what we need to do for our vehicles yet we miss what we need to do for our bodies, for our minds, for our spirits. We live without wisdom.
We set out with good intentions but . . . It seemed like such a little thing that we added it without thinking about how it would impact the other things we have to do including our time with God.
Or what about this. Everything is important at the same time and we can’t stop, can’t step off of the fast track. Or, what is even worse, the fast track has now become a way of life and we do not know any other way of living, of being.
Because we do not slow down, we do not have time to fully understand what was happening around us. We do not have time to rejuvenate. We end up rushing the major things because of the amount of time we spend on those minor things that we did not need to do. We are not hearing God. We are moving too quickly. In addition, we over load our systems and are headed for the crash unless we stop right now and build those speed bumps.
You Need Speed Bumps, but What Are They?
In the context of this podcast, speed bumps are the regular spiritual practices that we build into our lives so that we are able to slow down and hear from God; slow down and rejuvenate; slow down and refocus; slow down and get perspective; slow down and allow the vision to stay alive; slow down and regain the right priorities; slow down and breathe. People who are interviewed on this podcast stress their importance.
Setting up speed bumps is living from God’s center. So, how do we build them? That’s what this podcast is about week by week with our guests and at other times.
In building our speed bumps, regularity is key. I can’t tell you how to run your day. You know your circumstance better than I do. But I can say this:
- Start and end the day with God.
- Have intentional times during the day when you pause to connect more deeply with God.
- Practice Sabbath. Sabbath is baked into God’s creation, God’s intention for us.
These are the basics.
Characteristics of spiritual speed bumps
- Regular times of prayer, regular times of getting in the Bible—reading it, studying, meditating on it; regular times of reflection.
- Coupled with being regular, be intentional. Speed bumps will not occur by happenstance. You have to schedule and maintain them.
- Here is another word that is critical in building your speed bumps—unhurried. This helps to provide quality.
Take your time as you approach your spiritual speed bumps. Slow down, and first savor God’s presence as part of your practices. Then proceed without haste. Shut the door, or if you are outdoors, go where you will not be interrupted, unless God sends someone. Turn off the notifications, etc. In other words, get rid of all distractions. Listen to God. Hear God’s heart for the ministry, for the people, for you as you pray for them and you. Get direction from God and wisdom to know what to do and say and when to do and say them. Hear and heed God’s priorities. Avoid missing the people.
If you don’t do this, you will just have used up time and most likely be anxious during this time. It will be uncomfortable and may even be unproductive.
Yes. Things are ramping up as the school year starts again and life at church picks up. Some things we cannot control but we can deal with them at the right time in the right way when we drink more deeply of God’s well, living from God’s center through the speed bumps we set up in our lives.
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper (Psalm 1:1–3).
Take a look at your typical day to ensure you have your speed bumps in place. If they are not present, build them in. Whether you already have them or are now building them, check and ensure that they are regular, intentional, and unhurried.
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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Music: “A True Friend” by Josh Molen
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