“I am still learning how to shepherd this long work after the initial burst.”

This is the quote that leapt from my laptop screen yesterday, as I read a post entitled “The Ministry of Saying Goodbye (and Sticking Around)” by D.L. Mayfield.

The “burst” she’s referring to is the whirlwind of publishing her first book, “Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith“.

We are all created with unique passions that lead us to work that matters.  Hopefully we’ve all experienced bursts of affirmation, fulfillment, or reward for our efforts.

But for every exciting burst, there are many ordinary days in between.

Many of us wrestle with a fear of being ordinary.  We worry that being ordinary isn’t enough to make a significant impact in this world.

So this is where the challenge of our work often lies.  We can get lost or distracted from the significance of our work during a long stretch of ordinary days.  Feeling ordinary for too long can be just as devastating to our purpose as feeling defeated or discouraged by a dramatic event.

Feeling ordinary is when we need to shepherd our work.  Protecting, guiding, and watching over the efforts of our work because we know it matters even when it’s been a while since we have experienced the excitement of it.

Shepherding our work means resisting the temptation to abandon our efforts or change course to do something more dramatic or noticeable or harder just because we feel ordinary.

Shepherding our work also means seeking God’s help to become more aware of His presence and pleasure with us on the ordinary days. Rather than always searching for other people to affirm that we are doing something important.

D.L. Mayfield has invited me into a paradigm shift about shepherding.  Before reading her post, I had only thought about being a shepherd.  Christ as our shepherd, or my pastor shepherding our congregation, and my calling to shepherd young adults through numerous life transitions.

But I had not considered shepherding as an intentional action in regards to my passion for hospitality.

Her words that have given me an opportunity to pause and think about how to stay committed to this important work through the stretches of ordinary days.

“Lord teach me how to shepherd my long work after the exciting bursts.  Work that matters is always long work.  I’m so glad to be on this journey with you.”


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