How to Find Delight Instead of Duty in Serving God
Once a year, usually in the winter, sometimes my husband sneaks away for a weekend alone with God. In the past, he’s gone to a cabin in the woods, spent the night at a local Abbey where the monks have taken a vow of silence, and driven long distances by himself, all alone, just him and God.
Just typing this description makes me cringe, because what for him is a beautiful weekend of reconnecting with God and contemplating his calling sounds to me like absolute and utter torture. Alone? By myself? For an entire weekend? You’ve just described to me something I would call torment not respite.
On the other hand, throughout the year, I have the opportunity to attend conferences with other like-minded ministers. I worship with large groups of people, thousands of them, in fact. I talk to hundreds of individuals and speak to groups of 25-50 about the things I am most passionate about. I come back from these times rested, rejuvenated, revived and connected to God.
Even reading that made some of you cringe. The thought of being surrounded by people for days on end, of having to talk to strangers and being in a noisy, lively environment with no place for peace, quiet or escape… torture, right?
Why is this? Personalities? Sure, that definitely plays a part. Extrovert vs. Introvert? Of course, that’s in the picture. But, I think it might be bigger than that. I think perhaps it also has to do with where we, individually, find God.
In his book, Sacred Pathways, Gary Thomas takes a look at nine unique “pathways” that believers walk as they interact with God and grow in their faith. Each pathway is distinct, not necessarily because of one’s personality, but because of how one is best able to connect to and interact with God. To get the whole picture, you should definitely read the book, but for the purpose of this post, I want to focus on something that perhaps we sometimes forget.
We are not all the same.
God has created each of us with personalities and characteristics that are particular to us. We each have our own set of distinct attributes that helps us interact with the world and our Creator.
I think, for the most part, we all acknowledge this truth. However, when we begin to prescribe to others the pathway to God that works for us as though that is the pathway to meet with God, we forget that we are not all the same.
As a real life example, I can’t tell you how many people have told me over the years that I need to do devotions every morning, or at the very least, every evening, in order for me to maintain my personal relationship with God. But guess what? That does not work for me. It becomes a rote, empty practice without life or connection. It breeds in me a sense of duty rather than a sense of delight. But oh, how I can relate to the Psalmist who declared, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’” For in those times of corporate worship and shared liturgy, my soul comes alive. I delight. There is no duty. Do I have times of personal devotion? Yes, because it is a spiritual practice that keeps me growing as a disciple. But is that where I find rest in Christ? Most often, no. For me that is found in the assembly of believers.
Reginald Johnson in his book Your Personality and the Spiritual Life writes,
“By discovering our own soulprint or personality type, we can appreciate our God-given attributes, identify some of our special areas of vulnerability and weakness and discover the kinds of resources which might be conducive for nurturing our relationship with Christ.”
In other words, let’s delight in the fact that God has created us each uniquely and meets with us in ways that best fit our shape.
What about you? Where is it that you connect with God? Is it when you venture into nature, surrounded by His Creation, or is it in a cathedral surrounded by songs of old and saints of times past? Is it when you are serving the poor and the lonely, or when you are standing up for truth and justice? Where do you feel your heart quicken, your soul rest, your spirit lift, and your thoughts cease?
Find that place and treasure it. Find out from your fellow believers where it is for them and guard that space for them. Let’s make seeking God not something we prescribe for each other but something we describe to one another, to build one another up and encourage one another to seek even more. Let’s make it a delight and not a duty. There is room in our lives to meet God in many ways, in times of solitude and times of community, in times of service and in times of silence, in times of quiet and in times of celebration. Christ calls us to “come away” with Him, let’s make sure that wherever that place is for us… we go.