It’s Monday morning after Easter Sunday.
The first task on your task list is “Start preparing next Sunday’s message.” But hold on a minute. This particular Monday morning brings a collision of dynamics to your heart (good and bad), a psychological soup…
Delight in the energy and life of Easter Sunday. Exhaustion from the adrenaline crash of Monday morning. Regret over how you would change your message, in retrospect. Possibly comparison (hopefully not) as you scroll social media. Hopefully joy in seeing how God worked in so many places. Celebration over those who trusted Christ. A new weight of responsibility as you hope to disciple those new believers. The questions of “what really happened, and did it make a difference?”
The Monday morning after Easter, for spiritual leaders, is a mental gumbo of complex joy and questions. It’s a bit like a friendly hurricane flew through your head. At some point we have to process it; though, for the moment, it’s easier just to sit and stare. It’s a good “sitting and staring” though—a joyful, tired kind of coma.
As I sort out my Monday morning mental gumbo, here’s how I’m landing…
1. I’m grateful to many people—Our pastoral staff led so well. Our ministry staff labored so faithfully and diligently. Our volunteers arrived early, served in the rain, and simply lit up the whole place with joy and energy. Hundreds of people served hundreds of other people. I’m thankful to be a member of this team with these amazing people.
2. I’m honored to have the privilege to preach Jesus—God’s word is “good news”; and it’s numbing to think, “I have the opportunity to share the greatest good news ever with people, every week!” It’s a blessing to rest in the reality that God blesses His word, and His word never returns void. There will be a harvest!
3. I’m cherishing the memory of seeing people enjoy their church—Call me strange, but I find huge joy in seeing our church family enjoy Jesus, enjoy each other, enjoy church. Hearing them worship Jesus, seeing them love serving, knowing they are “flourishing in the courts of our God” is such an awesome delight!
4. I’m leaving the results in God’s hands—Numbers play games with our heads, so I try to avoid them. What I most want to know is that someone was pointed to Jesus, someone was strengthened, someone heard the gospel, someone was served or helped.
Each week, I ask God to show me someone who was changed. Just one is enough for me to give it another week, another message, another go. And guess what? He usually does! Almost every week (almost) God gives me a glimpse of His work—a person I meet in the lobby, a text message, an email, a story that someone shares. God is good to poke pinholes through the veil of faith to assure us He is at work.
He knows me. If He shows me much more, I am tempted in all the wrong ways toward satisfaction and self-focus. So the safe route is to leave the results to Him and rest to know He’s at work behind the scenes.
5. I’m going to celebrate His goodness again today—Jesus is still alive, and someone who heard the gospel yesterday woke up again today thinking, “I’m a new person! I’m heading to Heaven! No more fear. No more struggle to be good enough. Jesus is in me!”
How do I know this? After I trusted Jesus, my first conscious thought the next morning was “Jesus is in me!” It was if He was reminding me, “Hey, I’m in your life now!” That happened this morning to someone who was in church yesterday!
Beyond that, while my task list is calling me to start next Sunday’s message, my heart and my Savior are saying, “Catch your breath. Celebrate God’s goodness. Soak in it for a while. Enjoy it!”
I get the sense that God just did something to blow my mind, and He wants to see me drop my jaw with wonder for a while before I open my project list and start plowing again.
6. I’m going to cherish this moment—This was my 30th Easter with Dana. Mind blown. God’s sustaining grace has been real and remarkable. Church family, family, friends, and grandkids all make this moment so irreplaceable and so joyfully explosive.
The great joy of Easter is not in the numbers or church “achievement.” It’s in the life of Jesus overflowing in the relationships around us!
What I most cherish about ministry is who we get to serve with! I’m surrounded by the greatest people on the planet, and I live every day with the strong sense that God put us together, for this needy moment, in New England! Every where I looked yesterday I saw someone I wanted to hug, thank, bless, and cherish! I saw friends I wanted to encourage and say “GREAT JOB! ISN’T THIS FUN?!” I’m sure you did too.
These moments pass quickly, and I don’t want (even good) ambition, busyness, or a “quest for more” to overrun them. That I get to serve Jesus with these people is the greatest joy and privilege of life!
7. I’m going to rest and restore—This might involve a donut or a steak or a pizza—or all three. It might involve taking a walk with Dana. It will likely involve listening to The Lord Is My Salvation or Psalm 34 at an unhealthy volume. It’s probably going to mean hugging some grandkids, making vacation plans, reading something renewing, and moving slowly through this week.
It will be a long, slow inhale—like one of those gratifying, full sighs that makes your lungs feel ahead of the oxygen game. In other words, I’m choosing not to regret or critique. I’m choosing not to compare to compete. I’m choosing not to mindlessly plow forward, breathless, fatigued, and depleted. I’m choosing not to psycho-analyze my message or the results.
I’m going to sigh—slow inhale, slow exhale—and rest in whatever God does with my feeble offering of service.
Most of all, I’m going to smile! He really is alive, and He proved it again yesterday.
How can that NOT make you smile, even on the Monday morning after Easter?!