Our Advisory Board here at MMF is an amazing group of women and men who are engaged in ministry from many different angles in diverse places around the country. On a call with them last week, we were talking about all the challenges facing pastors and churches right now and the exhaustion being felt by so many, Tod Bolsinger said something that has stayed me with me every day since. He recalled something that a Benedictine monk had once told the poet David Whyte. “You know,” the monk said, “the antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest…. The antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartedness.” The monk added: “You’re so exhausted because you can’t be wholehearted at what you’re doing…”
There is plenty exhausting about the work of ministry right now – all the scrambling, each day filled with makeshift solutions to intractable problems, the gross inequity and injustice that’s part of this pandemic, the constant shifts to the condition of people, families, faith communities, and so much more. It is difficult to summon a wholehearted feeling.
Of course, we don’t have to create wholeheartedness on our own. In Romans, Paul ends the string of suffering…to endurance…to character…to hope with the affirmation: “…hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5).
The gift of God in this season is the gift of wholeheartedness. A passion for those brought low by this virus. A re-bonding of community to lift people up. A passion for those approaching faith for the first time in this desperate hour, hungry to know the God we worship. And our passion to re-introduce the God we know in Jesus Christ to this culture.
The gift of God in this season is the gift of wholeheartedness.
I found the story behind Tod’s account in a post by David Whyte titled “10 Questions That Have No Right to Go Away.” Some of our most exhausting questions – and our halfhearted attempts to address them – will fade from the scene. It’s worth asking, even in the midst of it all: What questions are not going away? And which ones lead us to wholehearted living, wholehearted faith, and wholehearted hope?