Module Nine: Justice and the Inner Life

OVC Essentials Fall 2021 Module Nine: Justice and the Inner Life

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    • #76597
      Leah St. Pierre
      CAFO Staff

      Summarize and discuss the importance of care for the whole person, how it relates to caring for vulnerable children, and your personal experience with that connection. What new or reinforced commitments do you take away from this week? What spiritual, physical, or social-emotional practices or habits would have the greatest impact on your life, family, and ministry?

    • #76790
      Sarah Alfieri
      Participant

      This week’s content really resonated with my heart, as I have experienced burnout in the child-welfare field before. I have seen firsthand that you cannot give and serve if you are empty and exhausted. Caring for the whole person (both ourselves and the vulnerable children we interact with) is an intentional task. In regards to ourselves, it means setting boundaries, digging deep into scripture and godly community, and making sure that we are being filled. In regards to the children we serve, it means seeing them as whole individuals- and investing in each part of their lives (emotional, physical, spiritual, educational, etc).

      A takeaway I have from this week that I feel would greatly impact my life, family, and ministry is the concept of “growing down.” Without established roots, a tree will eventually die from a lack of stability and nutrition. In the same way, if I am not deeply rooted in Christ, his love, and his purpose for my life- I will eventually run dry and not be able to love and live as I am called to. By spending intentional time in Scripture, prayer, and taking time to learn (about the world, myself, God, and what I believe) I become better equipped as a wife, a person, and as someone who interacts with vulnerable children. This sometimes feels selfish and it can feel wasteful to take time on yourself instead of on the cause and children you are trying to serve. But in the long run, investing in your heart and your walk with Christ is one of the most impactful things you can do for your ministry, family, and the people you serve.

      • #76932
        Meredith Smylie
        Participant

        Sarah, I fully agree with what you said about it feeling selfish to take time for yourself, but that the time spent in Scripture and in prayer and contemplation is restorative and a source of equipping for all aspects of life. That is such a good way to describe the motivation behind “grind culture”. Rest is countercultural, but so crucial!

    • #76931
      Meredith Smylie
      Participant

      This week’s content was refreshing to hear, which I think is just a taste of the refreshment found if it is walked out in the day to day and week to week. It can be easy to forget that rest is a commandment, and that it is not only for our good, but for the good of what we do. It is a relief to know that our Father does not count on our perfect performance to achieve his mission, He only wants to be with us while He does it. It can be so easy to forget this.

      Burnout is extremely common in child welfare, and in my five years I have seen it over and over again. I loved hearing about the concept of living as people of spiritual discipline who happen to work in the arena of social justice. This is definitely something that I want to build into my daily and weekly rhythms more so that I am giving and working out of the overflow rather than “prayerlessly striving”. This is also something I want to encourage in my coworkers.

      A year or two ago, organizationally we began praying together for a half hour on Monday mornings, and I think that not only does this help to set the tone for the week, but also unifies us as a team on mission. I think intentionally protecting time of rest on the Sabbath personally as well can only add to this, especially if the whole team follows through!

      • #76934
        Dorathy Lachman
        Participant

        Hi Meredith,

        I loved your comments about the concept of living as people of spiritual discipline.  I, too, want to see more of this in myself and to encourage those around me to explore.  The collective impact of a community engaging in these disciplines is quite remarkable and stood out to me this week, too.

      • #76942
        Sarah Alfieri
        Participant

        Hey Meredith, thanks for sharing! I loved how you shared that your organization has started prayer times together, and that it has helped with unity and pacing. My organization has weekly team devotional/ prayer time as well, and from an organizational level I think it is a great way to embed these spiritual disciplines into the work week flow.

        I also agree with you about intentionally protecting the Sabbath- it takes work and sacrifice like we talked about on the call! But when we put up those walls, we really can enjoy the wonderful gift of rest, worship, and play that God intended for us to.

    • #76933
      Dorathy Lachman
      Participant

      From today’s discussion, I deeply resonated with Christy’s comments about attending conferences where people doing good things are simply burned out, and the meeting topics seem to be a repeat of the same things in an attempt to address the ongoing burnout.

      In my own experience, I deeply appreciate the spiritual disciplines outlined in the content – sabbath, silence, solitude and more.  I also deeply resonate with the intentionality it takes to implement them in a meaningful and fruitful way.

      I think the nuts and bolts part of me is wondering how to see that spread across organizations.  The other part of me is simply fascinated by the impact of the collective implementation of these seemingly “simple” concepts.

      A.W. Tozer said that, “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.”  Perhaps a question we should ask at the conferences is who we think God is and what do we think about His heart and who we are.  It’s so easy to put the metric before the essence.

      I’m honestly still chewing on the question of, “What do I do with this information?” from an organizational level. Honestly asking myself and encouraging those around me to ask about who God is and what is our identity is a great place to start the conversation.

      • #76948
        Christy Wiesner
        Participant

        Dorathy, I resonate with your struggle of wondering how to wisely and intentionally cultivate these patterns of spiritual discipline in the workplace. Working on the mission field, I tend to work with a group of people connected to multiple organizations. So what does this look like to cultivate in a group of people working together in a new cultural context yet who do not work for the same company? It seems like a daunting task that leaves me unsure how to go about it. Yet you make a good point- talking to the people around me about these topics and encouraging the discussions about who we are in God and the patterns of life He creates for us is a good way to start. God calls us to community- He does not expect us to accomplish all this alone, though we may need to be the ones to start and develop the conversation so others will join in.

    • #76947
      Christy Wiesner
      Participant

      I think the statement that summarizes all we discussed this week is: You cannot give what you do not have. In general, the people who work with vulnerable children have a heart to love those children and to see them live out of wholeness in every aspect of their person. But we cannot help a child live out of wholeness if we are not cultivating and caring for that wholeness in ourselves.  I have seen wonderful people on the mission field who give and give and give and pour out to expand God’s mission and build His Kingdom, yet find themselves depressed, angry, and bitter towards those they are trying to help. In these cases, the people being served are no longer being served well and wholly- whether children or adults. When we give out of reserves, we find ourselves empty, but when we give out of our surplus and the overflow of Christ in us we find that we are never empty. The only way to give and serve out of overflow is to keep being filled.

      I really appreciated the perspective of seeing the spiritual disciplines as “gifts of receiving”. Disciplines can have such a negative connotation of being ‘work’ which makes them seem draining, undesirable, and like just another commitment. Yet what we call spiritual disciplines are meant to be a life-giving source of living water and spiritual sustenance. Silence, solitude, Sabbath, prayer, Scripture are meant to be gifts of receiving the Lord and His presence. They are not ‘stealing’ time from our productivity and busyness; they are the structures that empower our productivity to be valuable, lasting, and inspired with the right heart.

      In the discussion, I was reminded of the precedent God set of rest first. Why? Because our identity is who we are in Him, not in our work or accomplishments. Adam and Eve began their existence with a day of rest. In the Jewish tradition, each new day begins at sunset when people start the day by sleeping and gaining needed rest. The Sabbath was the first day of the week- marked by rest. How counter-cultural God’s pattern of rest is, yet it is at the center of how we were created. Only in abiding in God’s patterns of rest can we live out of the surplus He pours out of us.

      I was struck by the idea of thinking of times of vacation and Sabbath as festivals. I think sometimes I get caught in this cultural idea that rest means quiet, not doing anything, almost a sense of laziness. However, though festivals are not marked by doing work, they are marked by laughter, fun, music, enjoyment, family and friends. Rest does not have to be sitting quietly, not ‘doing’ anything. Rest can be expressed through the beauty of celebration and relationships.

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