To start with, I am breaking the cardinal rule of having Fridays off because this Friday I have to go to a load of course and exam board meetings for the open learning tutoring I do. On the plus side there, though, I’ve just agreed to be the tutors’ rep: though no one is quite sure what it entails, everyone seems to agree that it almost certainly involves not much and does mean I get a free lunch on open learning course board days. So I thought about that one for all of about two minutes before I said yes. I am a student, after all!
My day off instead falls today. A day which is now, in fact, due to be the sunniest and warmest day of the year so far. I’m sure a proper theologian would tell me differently, but I reckon that must mean that God is smiling on me right now. For what it’s worth, I’ll think of you in your office, your classroom or wherever else you work. But not for long – sorry!
I will also have been in three different libraries before the week is up: as well as the usual one, I’ve sampled again the delights of the British Library – a place I just can’t seem to like – and am about to go to the UK Seventh Day Adventist college library tomorrow. It turns out that their library is quite good for what I want, even though I didn’t know it existed until it kept coming up on the World Cat results lists!
I flicked through lots of would-be important books in the Brit Lib but I just can’t motivate myself to read there. Mostly (and this is sad, I know) because they won’t let me use my digital pen as it writes with real ink, and ink, in the British Library reading rooms, is verboten. Anyway, I won’t bore anyone on the topic of my pen again; if you really care, you can read the post about it from last year – though I wouldn’t bother if I were you!
And then I read the first half of a book by Robin Sharma. Called The Leader Who Had No Title, it’s a bit of a self-help job. Normally that turns me straight off a book. I read too much of The Celestine Prophecy series and Louise L. Hay when I was about twelve and vaguely looking for God in a New Age kind of way; anything in that vein now just makes me want to yell that the whole point is JESUS and that everything holds together in him and anything else can only be half the truth if it doesn’t have him as its centre and its frame.
But yelling, now I think about it, might not have been a good look in a Brit Lib reading room. In fact, I’m definitely kind of glad I didn’t do that!
Still, if you can get past the cheesy dialogue that puts a whole new meaning on to the word ‘contrived’, Sharma’s book is quite good. I still wish I could rewrite it to showcase Christ as the one in whom all this is found (we might need to get someone else to write dialogue though as I have no idea how to do that!) yet I still found it inspiring enough that I am actually going to read the second half. Of course, I shan’t count this as procrastination because it has the word ‘leader’ in the title and is therefore technically research.
Hmm, yeah right.
Anyway, Sharma talks a lot about the significance of living a no-regrets kind of life, a pursuit of authenticity and the power of self-belief and of a willingness never to quit. It’s something I’ve pursued for a long time, living like this. I think of it as living BIG and it’s what I want more than anything else.
Except that, for me, this has to be placed in the context of Christ.
And that means that to live BIG might just mean radical humility rather than radical greatness and it might mean holy obscurity rather than a platform. It means living with all you were given, yet still recognising that it is exactly that: given. It means freedom to be more fully who you were made to be, not any longer walking under a banner of fear and a spirit of defeat. It means taking a risk because that’s where you’ll always find him and it means believing against hope, in hope when all seems lost.
But if you know me, you know just how much all of that has to be a decision. Sometimes an hour by hour one. So, reading books like this one from Sharma is helpful; so also is the series of coaching I’ve benefitted from over the last year. Because sometimes you really need something to remind you what it looks like to live BIG and, more specifically in the case of coaching, someone who can tell you when you’re starting to live small again and remind you of what God says when all you can sense is your own all-consuming panic at walking on water.
Yet it was not only Sharma that made me feel excited yesterday. It was also the fact that I spent most of the day at LICC for an Imagine roadshow day. I was speaking for a short part of a session but attended the whole day. (It’s amazing what I’ll do to avoid those reading rooms at St. Pancras.) And, as I listened again to Neil Hudson, I remembered again why we do what we do when it comes to church. I got it again. And I don’t think it was quite the same it as Groeschel was writing about! In fact, it quite restored my hope in the church after my reading earlier this week and last.
But enough of the blog writing: this Wednesday, at least, is for sitting in the sun and, after a quick gym trip to assuage the guilt about not having been for a while, sitting in the sun is exactly what I am going to do!