September Is the Perfect Time To Increase Your Joy!
September begins with our national Labor Day celebration, a movement in the United States that started in Oregon and later spread to New Jersey and three others states in 1887. Designated by the federal government to be the first Monday in September, it is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
Remember to express gratitude for your staff, and the myriad of current and retired workers both in the worshipping community and our community at large. Workers have contributed to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our congregation, and our country. The holiday is well-deserved. We should take joy in our work, and enjoy rest from our labor, too.
“Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the people in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the church to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches” (Acts 15:36-41).
In the passage above from Acts, the ministry team that included Paul, Barnabas, Silas, and John Mark decided to re-calibrate the good things they did by paying attention to what was bringing joy, and what wasn’t. They knew that God not only cared about what we accomplish, but how we are feeling. Our wellness of mind, body, and spirit applies to faith communities, too.
More individuals have volunteered to take on new responsibilities and many others have increased their participation in worship, activities, events, and ministries. But there is a flip-side to positive engagement; it is called fatigue. As we continue to grow and learn, we need to monitor ourselves so that we do not become fatigued in doing good (see Galatians 6:9). How are you feeling? Do you feel energized or fatigued? Do you feel over- or under- utilized? Are you ready for something new? Or, maybe you need a well-deserved break, or to do something different?
While we can feel energized, from time to time we may feel a bit overwhelmed. If you do, that’s O.K., and please let me and others know. We care about how you are feeling! We don’t want to sacrifice our own sense of joy in serving. One of the early mottos of the Labor Day movement was “8 Hours Work, 8 Hours Recreation, 8 Hours Rest.” There is a natural rhythm to the cycles of life in our work, in our volunteer service, and in our retirement, too!
For example, the rhythms of engaging a new vision, preparing, and maintaining high engagement, and then enjoying accomplishments should naturally be followed by rest, learning, reflection, and the option for re-engagement. These cycles vary for each person and can span days, weeks, or months, depending on our circumstances. It’s all good. We might have been energized by serving for years as a liturgist or on a church team, for example, but we now may want to try something different. That’s great! Try something different
Do you volunteer with a community organization, not for profit, or service group? Thank you for your service! But remember to pay attention to your own wellness to be sure you are getting the resources you need to offer your best.
We tend to overlook our own needs. But to experience more satisfaction and joy in your service to others, the first week of September is the perfect time to recalibrate, and be open for what God may invite you to do next. The Apostle Paul’s mission team decided to uniquely invest their resources to visit all the towns where they had served to see how they were doing (Acts 15.36), which resulted in strengthening the churches (Acts 15:41). We need to be strengthened, too.
No matter what availability or particular gifts you have to offer, remember to express them! You can make a difference. Enjoy your Labor Day. Let’s make time to pause, rest, and then consider how to creatively re-engage to experience joy in the ministry opportunities ahead!