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Sheepwalking Through Your Life

“I define sheepwalking as the outcome of hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain – dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line. You’ve probably encountered someone who is sheepwalking. “ Seth Godin, in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.

I think Seth Godin is correct, I bet we all know or have met someone who works obediently in a brain – dead, and possibly dead- end job. The reasons for people remaining in those jobs are varied. For some it is fear, for others, they simply don’t care, the job provides a pay cheque and that’s all that matters to them. For others, they stay in these positions because the right opportunity to leave or move into another position hasn’t happened yet.

A manager at my last job was a shepherd to sheepwalkers, let’s just say her and I did not jell well. Until she was hired I had a position that allowed me a lot of autonomy and flexibility. This position freed me to help low-income people by filling in some much-needed gaps in the service this organization provided. The newly hired manager had no experience in the industry yet began making sweeping changes as soon as she was hired. Amidst all these abrupt and ill-fitting changes, she awarded the sheeps who followed along without question and punished those who dared to ask questions.

During my time working with this manager I realized she made no efforts to include staff in the plans she had for her department; workers never knew when a sudden change in policy or operations would occur. Sometimes she even made up changes on the spot. Feedback, thoughts, and observations were not welcomed to be shared in team meetings; this was seen by her to be insubordination.

During my time working within this manager’s department I observed a very important lesson: if you are passionate about the work that you do, you will never be content with being a sheepwalker.

People who have a passion for their work, or those who are creative, resourceful, and vision oriented will eventually feel suppressed, unsupported, and unmotivated. Staff need a certain amount of freedom and flexibility in order to remain creatively productive.

Sheepwalkers don’t put their heart into the work they do, instead they focus on what it takes to please their superior. This type of work doesn’t even consider pleasing customers as their goal or providing patrons with a decent product; their only purpose is to make their supervisors happy.

I understand that not everyone can speak up or leave their positions, but I challenge people who are in these situations to think about what other areas of their lives have them sheepwalking or sleepwalking.

What are your interests? Are you able to freely feed this interest? This doesn’t have to be something major, it can be as simple as being free to choose what restaurant you and your friends/family are going to eat at, what movie you’re going to watch, being able to decide if you are going to stay home or go out, volunteering in positions that genuinely interests you, or maybe becoming a board member and providing your knowledge and skills to a non-profit organization.

What’s important to remember is that if you are in a work position where you spend 40 hours a week being a ‘sheepwalker’ you are going to need an outlet outside of your workplace where you can use your mind and feed your imaginative and creative self somehow; if not, there will be an important part of yourself that is not being fed. If you are not practicing this type of self care, you leave yourself vulnerable to burnout.

Check in with yourself periodically and ask yourself, are there other areas in my life where I am able to be creative or contribute my thoughts and ideas?

 

 

 

Preparing for Lent 2018

Lent image.jpg

This year Lent begins on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2018. If feels like Christmas just barely ended and now we are on to the second half of the wonderful story of God’s love for us all.

There is a misconception that Lent is only for Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians, however, I am pleased to inform everyone that Lent is celebrated and observed by believers from a variety of denominations.

Every year I make it clear to people that Lent is not about punishing yourself or making yourself miserable for 40 days. Lent is about joining Jesus in the desert to grow closer to God. Lent is an active way to remember that we are dependent on God for our spiritual strength and that despite having an abundance of material goods, nothing can satisfy our souls except God.

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.” Luke 4: 1-4

Jesus was never alone during those 40 days, the spirit of God was with him. When we struggle it may feel as if God is absent, and the lies we tell ourselves may lead to the belief that God has abandoned us, but that is not the nature of our Lord, he is with us always. The feeling of absence is called emotional and spiritual pain.

God doesn’t test us and we are told not to test him (Luke 4:7). “Testing” others is a form of manipulation and this type of behaviour has no place in a relationship, especially the one we have with God.

In the desert Jesus shows us how to respond to temptations and anything that enters our lives that threatens to remove God from being the most important in our lives; he shows us to respond with truth and the word of God.

For Lent 2018 I will be reading Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, by Trish Harrison Warren. I chose this book because I wanted to learn to be present to the presence of God in my daily, ordinary activities and interactions. And, if you’re wondering what I’m “giving up” for Lent, the answer is nothing. I decided that the words and obsession with “giving up” can easily lead us to focus too much on accomplishing a habitual goal instead of the spiritual experience of gaining a deeper relationship with God. During Lent I will intentionally engage in prayer walks. Walking is something I find deeply meditative and calming. I haven’t been walking much lately and I can see how it has affected my spiritual disciplines and prayer life. Winters in northern Canada can be brutal, and this year we’ve had a lot of snow, and this has been my reason for not doing much walking.

For those 40 days I will be doing daily prayer walks. What I’ve “given up” is idle time that is often spent on Netflix, going to the fridge or cupboard for snacks, Facebooking, or other activities that aren’t adding much to my life. The idea of Lent isn’t to give up things that are sinful or unhealthy for you (these things are best given up forever, not for a mere 40 days). The goal is to engage in increased prayer, reflection, and charitable giving or works.

However you chose to celebrate the love and redemption that God gives us, my hope is that it will bring you closer to him and provide a deeper understanding of the power and strength provided to us by his Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

#Metoo and the Bible

bible women

Over the past couple of weeks, social media lit up with hashtags and comments by mostly women sharing that they too had been on the receiving end of sexual harassment.

It was no surprise to me that so many women had experienced sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually draining. The harassment might be physical, but it affects a person’s sense of well-being; especially if they keep their experience to themselves. Imagine carrying shame, embarrassment, and sometimes confusion on your own; it eventually becomes a mental burden.

One would think the church would be a safe place to seek help and share experiences, but sometimes it’s not. The bible, the very book that is used by Christians as a guidebook for godly living, is filled with horrific stories of the physical abuse and oppression of women, sometimes at the hands of godly men. Hello King David, I’m talking about you!

In the Hebrew scriptures, the stories of revenge against rapists is more about protecting the family name and their female property rather than respecting the woman herself.

In Genesis 34 Dinah’s rape was avenged by her brothers who killed all the men of Shechem and pillaged the village of items including women. On the surface this might seem like a victorious story, but it’s not. The women who were captured certainly didn’t need to be taken by men as a revenge prize. The capture of these women are equally as appalling as the rape of Dinah. In both cases women were violated. These women were seen as nothing more than possessions to be had by any means without any thought about how they might feel.

The story of the Levite’s Concubine can be found in Judges 19-21. It is a repulsive story of a traveling husband who offers his wife to a group of strangers to be gang raped. After being assaulted all night she manages to make it to the doorstep where she likely died. In the morning her husband finds her unresponsive and places her on donkey. Once at home he dismembers her body into twelve pieces and sends her body to different territories of Israel. There was no mention of a memorial, funeral, or burial. All we are left with is another story of a man who is angry that his property has been violated is no longer of any use to him.

As a person who has read through the entire bible, I have no memory of any verses and stories about sexual harassment against women that would be inspiring to a victim.

The bible clearly tells us that God is our rock, our strength, our protector; but I certainly wouldn’t encourage women to turn to the bible for any heroes or heroines of assault.  A woman’s body belongs to her, not to her parents, nor her husband. Scripture will not inform you of this.

no means no

So… all this to say: When dealing with sexual harassment and sexual assault, don’t look for inspiration in texts of terror (as feminist theologian Phyllis Trible would call them). Instead, seek out verses that strengthen you, ones that remind of God’s love for you, those verses that remind you that while God did not stop bad things from happening to you, he is still with you. You are still his beloved daughter, you are not damaged goods. His love, mercy, and grace will bring healing to your life and your body. 

 

 

Cults and Churches: Both Meet Your Needs

 

Source Unknown

Recently I watched a few documentaries about Jim Jones, an American cult leader and Jonestown the commune he built in Guyana, South America. While reading the comments section there were many who referred to these cult members as “stupid”, “morons”, “idiots” and other mean insults about intelligence. With regards to the followers of Jim Jones, I couldn’t help but see them as people who had hopes and dreams, a sense of community, compassion, and a desire for justice.

I don’t think people who join cults lack intelligence. I always warn people that it doesn’t take much of a leap to go from being a mainstream Christian to being a cult member. Why do we see cult followers as people who are uneducated? Remember that Christianity is a religion whose followers believe and teach that Jesus was a man who was also simultaneously divine (Luke 1: 26-38). We are also taught that he died a violent death, yet three days later he came back to life mended and healed enough to be able to walk around for 40 days before ascending to heaven (Acts 1:9-11). During the days after his resurrection he also had the ability to teleport himself to pay a visit to the disciples (John 20:24-29).  He even regained his appetite (Luke 24:40-42).

While listening to first hand accounts from those who managed to leave or survive Jim Jone’s church community, the People’s Temple, they were drawn to him and his congregation because they felt accepted. Some of these followers were marginalized by society due to skin colour, socio-economic status, disability, and poverty. Others were doing well in life, but wanted to be part of a community where people were equal and all were accepted. Some of these followers left mainstream churches because they were not able to find acceptance and hope from their faith community. This is disappointing because the church is supposed to be a place where people aren’t discriminated against or marginalized.

Christianity teaches us that we are right and all others are wrong. We have all the answers to the worlds problems. And we worship the only one true God. This is similar to the mindset of cult members. The way that people look at cults are sometimes the same way that people look at Christians.

As a Christian I don’t believe I am in a cult, but as some anti-cult activists say, “People who are in cults don’t know they are in a cult.” I trust that the Anglican Communion of which I am a part of is legitimate as are many other Christian denominations. My only caution to other Christians is to be careful not to judge others who are drawn to cults. They, like us, are or were seeking something they don’t have. Some seek community, friendship, acceptance, stability, order, and people who they share common values with. Abuse can take place within all religious and spiritual groups; we have no idea what happens in secret within our own faith communities.

Source: Mimiandeunice.com

Those at Jonestown (914 in total) lost their lives in a mass suicide-murder at the hands of a man who was mentally ill, dishonest, and paranoid due to drug use. He and his leadership team took advantage of these people by offering them what they desperately wanted in life and weren’t able to find elsewhere. These were not stupid people, these were people with deep unmet needs that the mainstream Christian Church weren’t willing to offer them.