I hope you are having a fantastic Labor Day. I took the opportunity to sleep in and catch up on some rest this morning which has made for a fantastic day. I hope that you have been able to rest and connect with family, friends, and yourself in a way that has rejuvenated you and prepared you for the week ahead.
I want to take a few moments to encourage you on this Monday with our first installment of Mojo Monday.
Monday’s are a mixed bag in ministry. Depending on how your message went on Sunday or how your class went or what that little old lady said to you yesterday, Monday’s can be a day to look forward to or a day to review your resume and peruse the job boards.
Mondays don’t have to be this way. In fact, no day in ministry has to be this way.
I’m human just like you. I deal with frustrations, anxieties, depression, and emotional funks. When we get caught in these negative feelings and emotions the first thing we tend to lose is our perspective on reality. It is easy to believe the worst about any given situation and about yourself. I believe The Enemy’s best tactic to destroy you is to make you ineffective. When you get caught up in the Sads, the Mopes, and the Blahs they render you ineffective and keep you from experiencing all that God has in store for you and your life, family, ministry, and legacy.
Mojo Monday is about giving you hope and encouragement for TODAY.
Earlier this summer, I started to incorporate the Examen Prayer of St. Ignatius into my daily prayer and study. The Examen is a prayer technique that helps you reflect on your day and invites you to attend to the events, moments, and ways that God was present with you and guiding you. What I have found is that when I reflect with thankfulness and gratitude on the love and grace that has been lavished upon me by God in my life and ministry, my attitude changes.
My disappointments of the past lose their power.
My frustrations about the present fade away.
My anxiety about the future dissipates.
Essentially, there are 5 movements to the Examen and over the next few Mondays I am going to focus on each of these steps.
If you are struggling right now to find hope, joy, grace, and purpose in your life and ministry this first movement of the Examen could radically alter the way you see God, yourself, and your ministry forever.
The first step of the Examen is to Be Grateful.
Gratefulness is a powerful thing. Studies have shown that the pathways of our brains can be completely rewired when we think negatively or positively. In fact, neurologists believe that these pathways can become “hardwired in” depending on which thought patterns we feed. Think negatively all the time and your brain literally can become toxic. However, think positively and the opposite can happen: your brain and thoughts become more healthy.
When I’m talking about Positive Thinking I’m not talking about a new-agey-think-positive-vibes-eat-kale-hug-unicorns-and-all-will-be-right-with-the-world attitude.
I’m talking Word of God Truth here.
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Philippians 4:8 reminds us to constantly and constantly think on the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. The NLT encourages us to “fix our thoughts” on these things.
So here’s how to use the first step in the Examen prayer to take captive your negative thoughts and focus your mind on the thoughts God would have you focus on.
1) Start With The Master Prayer
Each morning and each night I begin my prayer and study time with The Lord’s Prayer. Jesus didn’t give his disciples a formula on how to preach the perfect sermon or give them 5 Steps to Walking on Water but he did teach them how to pray. Praying The Lord’s Prayer helps me center and focus my prayer time and puts my heart and my mind in the right pace.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
2) Reflect On Your Day
If this is first thing in the morning, you can reflect on the day before. If this is at night, allow the events of the day to pass through your mind. Review the day with openness and a heart of gratitude. Think about times when God was present. Did you respond in these moments? Did you ignore His presence at any point?
3) Be Grateful for God’s Blessings in Your Life
Express true and genuine gratefulness for everything God has done in your life today. I topically break up what I’m grateful for into 2 categories:
WHO am I grateful for?
These are the people and the relationships that I am thankful for. No matter what is going on around you or how you are feeling at any given moment, I am sure that you can think of at least one person or relationship that you are grateful for.
WHAT am I grateful for?
These are the things, situations, and spiritual truths that I am grateful for. Sometimes, a particular stressful event or time has going on in my day or week. When focusing on the things I am grateful for I often say, “I am grateful that that conversation ended?” or “Thank you that this situation is over…even just for today.” Saying, “God, thank you that today is done and help me tomorrow.” is a way of expressing thankfulness and giving control back over to God.
As I said before a posture of Gratefulness can help us turn around a bad attitude, rewire our brains, focus our thoughts on Christ, and put us on a pathway to spiritual and emotional health.
Before you close your eyes tonight, spend 5-10 minutes truly expressing what it is that your are grateful for today. If you do that, the disappointments of yesterday and the anxiety about tomorrow will begin to lose control of your heart and your mind so that you can experience joy even in the midst of a difficult season or situation.
Until next time, keep Kicking at the Darkness and remember: The Goal is Soul.
Exit Questions to Ask yourself:
What do I have to be grateful for today?
How much do I take for granted?
Is there anything specifically that has made me ungrateful, dissatisfied, frustrated?
In general, am I becoming a more grateful and contented person?