Time Out: Weekly quiet times for the youth worker’s soul.
(by Benjer McVeigh)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” -Jesus
Recently I spent a little time on two tasks to tidy up my office, both in the physical and the electronic sense. Tidying up in the electronic sense was basically deleting obsolete emails (Celebration: I went from 4,183 emails to 63!). Tidying up in the physical sense included getting rid of all the stuff I collect on my desk. Usually, this “stuff” comes in the form of various kinds of papers: staff meeting agendas, curriculum samples, vacation request paperwork, and lots and lots of sticky notes and scraps of paper.
I got rid of a lot of clutter. I didn’t set out to tidy up my desk just to make it look cleaner—my office doesn’t look a whole lot better than before! I needed to tidy up because I had accumulated so many unnecessary things. It became distracting, and it kept me from finding the stuff that’s actually important when I needed to. It’s not that those papers didn’t serve their purpose at one time; it’s just that their continued presence kept me from being efficient during my office time. Sure, I still have piles all over the place (yep, I’m a piler), but now that I’ve limited those piles to important things that I actually need to have at hand, it’s easier for me to work on the stuff I’m supposed to be working on.
This happens in my walk with Jesus, too. I have a lot of clutter in my mind and my heart. Jesus says in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” When something is pure, it means that it has only what it’s supposed to have, and that is usually only one thing. If we say water is pure, it means that it’s just…water; no other “stuff” is in it. The same is true of gold, silver, and other precious metals. So to be pure in heart is for our heart to have but one desire: to follow God in everything we do.
Just like my desk was not pure, my heart and my desires are not pure. Sure, there are the obvious contaminants: some greed, a lot of self-centeredness, and a good measure of envy. But there are some things that don’t look bad on the surface, but they do clutter up the heart, just like the Post-it note with the phone message I took four months ago was cluttering up my desk. A lot of it can be related to my calling as a youth pastor, such as a touch of workaholicism, which can be evidenced by thinking more about how I can relate a passage of Scripture to students than how to apply it to my own life, even in my personal devotional study. Or perhaps I spend too much of my free time on good stuff that has its purpose (catching up on my YM magazines, texting students, checking in on websites I like, and yes, blogging), but the importance I place on it clutters up my heart and my desire to follow God. If we are to be pure in heart, we need to ask God to show us what’s clutter and what’s not, and to refine us along the way (Psalm 66:10).
Questions for Reflection:
What “stuff” clutters up my heart that keeps me from a single-minded and single-hearted pursuit of God?
God sometimes uses the tough stuff in life to purify our hearts (Isaiah 48:10). In what ways is a difficult—or even tragic—situation teaching you what’s clutter in your heart and life and what’s not?
What is one thing you can do this week to de-clutter your heart?
Benjer McVeigh is a youth pastor in Ogden, UT, where he works with students in grades 9-12 and their families at Washington Heights Church. You can read more from Benjer at www.benjermcveigh.com
Posted on July 26, 2010