Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Spending Time

I've been feeling a bit distracted and unfocused lately and wondering about my priorities. As I think about distracting and contrasting priorities, let me list a few. (The list has actually gotten much longer than I thought possible!)

My family is always a significant investment of time. My daughter Kirstyn is ... playing basketball, is on her worship team at school and in choir. That has meant numerous pick-ups at around 5:00pm at her school in Woodbridge - this week it could be every evening. Then I try to be at her basketball games - which sometimes involves driving her to games - which requires me to be at her school by 2:30 and not get home till 6:00pm - and she has an occasional tournament (which involves a Friday evening and Saturday). Kirstyn also has a number of projects that require driving her around or proof-reading. And then because she attends a commuter school, if she wants to visit a friend it usually requires a half hour drive each way. Although it takes a fair chunk of time I like that she still talks to me about what’s going on in her life, about school, about herself and about boys.

Jared is now in university but he still likes to have long conversations with me – usually about philosophy, or religion or politics or girls. He always likes to talk about stuff he's learning, especially if I can help him understand it (actually he especially likes it when I can't keep up with him). Unfortunately for him most of the technical stuff he's learning is way beyond what I remember of university science or calculus. And he needs a ride to the bus every day - and sometimes all the way to school. Of course I want to spend some time with Brigitte and there are other extended family events.

As for my "calling" there is usually something to do related to church - mostly around administration (budgets and reports) and of course preparing for Sundays. I like to be reading stuff to try to capture what God is wanting to say. Praying and reading and listening and studying is the type of stuff that expands to fill the time available - I feel I could always do more.

Of course I'm also studying and reading and writing for my Doctor of Ministry courses - which kind of fits in when I get motivated or inspired. Some of it overlaps with sermon preparation. I'm supposed to be doing an average of ten hours a week on this.

I'm involved with a bunch of city-wide prayer initiatives. There was a leaders prayer summit in November - for which I was responsible for leading worship and doing some of the organizing. Wednesdays once a month is a meeting of the MissionGTA leadership team, which is going through a major refocusing and restructuring time. Every other Thursday morning is a PrayGTA meeting (the prayer arm of MissionGTA) which organizes prayer assemblies for different events in the city (Toronto city hall prayer meeting and on November 12th, a Sunday evening prayer assembly focused on praying for the persecuted church around the world). We occasionally arrange meetings with national leaders who consult with us about how to develop city reaching teams. I am now also heading up the strategic prayer team in this group (PrayGTA) and although I haven't really been able to get up to speed, I'm responsible to strategize effective prayer for the city and help coordinate intercessors and prayer teams. In terms of prayer and thought energy, this takes a lot of my focus.

On a related note, I really think that for the church to advance in Canada, God will require cooperation and unity in the church - not just lone rangers doing whatever they want and not caring for the city as a whole. I think the scheme of the enemy has been to try and divide and conquer - although the enemy will not eternally conquer, the division between the different streams of the church has made us much less effective than we could be. This will also be the focus of my DMin studies as well - so there is some overlap.

I am also involved in a bi-weekly pastors prayer meeting (at which I lead worship). This group sponsors three healing rooms (Thornhill Vineyard, Lifesprings Fellowship which meets at Willowdale Pentecostal Church and Castlefield Community Church near Yonge and Eglington) and I sit on the Healing Rooms Advisory Committee (which meets infrequently - 6-8 times a year). This pastors group also hosts a monthly 24-hour prayer meeting at various churches in North Toronto. (I'm also on the leadership committee for that and usually lead worship for a two-hour slot during the 24 hours). The Thornhill Ministerial (a group of eight churches in Thornhill) meets once a month and there are some responsibilities associated with that (not too many fortunately.) However, I'm supposed to be on the Out of the Cold committee which helps plan and run the Thornhill program that runs once a week for two months during the winter.

I'm on the chaplaincy staff (volunteer) at York Central Hospital which involves being on call (with a beeper) one week out of six or so. I also sit on the Chaplaincy Advisory Committee which advocates for chaplaincy services in the hospital (that meets four or five times a year). I also need to be involved in some of the events the chaplaincy department conducts like memorial services and various dinners. I'm also the chaplaincy rep for the Organ Donor Committee but I've only been to one meeting so far.

There is a group of people in the Beaches area of Toronto that are trying to start up an outreach through a coffee shop business on Queen Street. It's based on a model in Hamilton called the Freeway. The result should be a community centre style ministry that may develop a worshipping community that develops out of the outreach component. Right now it's only in the formation stages but it involves a lot of thinking and visioning and writing down proposals and dream statements. The team is fairly motivated but I'm providing a bit of leadership and co-ordination. I've been meeting with them once a week for the past month.

All this stuff doesn't include meeting people in my neighbourhood (which I try to do every day - although it's tougher to do that in the colder weather) to say nothing of special neighbourhood events like Bar Mitzvahs or sitting shiva with someone. I also mentor a number of guys (not really part of our congregation) and I also want to make sure I have time for meetings with men in the congregation, and with my friend at the gym. There are the occasional conferences or special meetings including my involvement in my denomination - which can be as much as a couple of meetings a month. There are also the funerals and weddings that come up from time to time which usually include at least one extra meeting (for funerals) and at least four meetings for premarital counselling (for weddings). I want to be in the gym at least four times a week and I can't miss basketball on Tuesday evenings with my Jewish buddies. Then there are the times where I just want to reconnect with someone and stay in the loop with friends.

Wow! I hadn't realized the amount of stuff that is part of my life! No wonder I feel unfocused sometimes. It's not only that there is a lot of stuff, it's also that there are so many different groups of people and different organizations. What's your life like?

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