Self-renewal, personal and ongoing. I woke up this morning very conscious that my body is becoming stiffer, more rigid and less flexible. Each morning it seems to take longer to loosen up physically and bend. Studies also show organizations normally become more rigid after twenty-five years.
I’m mulling over the following two questions, stimulated by Mark 2:22, Jesus’ profound teaching using a graphic illustration of new wine and a wineskin to explore self-renewal.
- “How can we stay vibrant with the Lord after years of walking with Him, neither stuck in the past nor settling into the current status quo?”
- “How can churches stay vibrant, pliable, flexible to changing circumstance, yet stay true to their founding values and what the Spirit is doing today?”
So, how can we build into the rhythms of life in a way to keep our spiritual attitudes and responses flexible as adaptable vessels fit for this season’s new wine of the Spirit of God? How can we tell the differences in our lives between living edges and dying edges? How can we partner with our Team-of-Three, Father, Son & Spirit, to self-renew the forms and habits and attitudes of our lives?
New wine with its bubbling life is incompatible with a rigid, old wineskin. Jesus tells us that new wine needs new wineskins. We probably know that an old wineskin becomes inflexible over time, and would break if the life of the new wine was poured in. New wine is fresh and unique in each season, full of active life, and Jesus’ preference in His parable.
1. Self-renewal Springs from God’s Presence:
We grow best as we rest fully satisfied in God’s presence, even when actively engaged in life. Be alive in God’s presence with “one foot raised” in anticipation of response. Healthy answers to these three essential questions lead us into a deeper abiding: “What is God like? and “How does this God see me/us?” and “What is God’s call on my life?” If we know God and ourselves, we will be all-in with Him, instantly desiring to do His will as soon as we know it. “I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening life in me.”
2. Self-renewal Requires “Feedback Loops:”
Maintain a way that works for us to regularly realign our life-responses with our core-values, without becoming introspective or stuck in the past. Over time our lives tend to drift, like a rip tide pulls swimmers off line. Along with this course correction, review our values at least yearly (or during a time of transition) to see if God is shifting or adding to our core-values.
3. Self-renewal Accelerates Honest Self-awareness:
Develop the ability to be honest about both our own strengths and weaknesses as we see ourselves more accurately. A measure of reflection is necessary, but reflect with “one foot raised,” ready to take this core understanding actively into everyday life, becoming otherly-focused and ceasing our preoccupation with ourselves.
4. Self-renewal Leads to Vulnerable Self-disclosure:
Bring everything quickly into the presence of God, like the Psalms model, the good, bad and ugly. And open up appropriately toward selected others since we need koinonia in the Body to test our vision. What lurks in the darkness remains unexamined.
I’m sure you can think of other key responses to self-renewal to keep our spirits flexible, pliable, vessels receptive to the seasonal new wine of the Spirit. E-mail me your thoughts. The goal of self-renewal is to provide inner space to reach our potential as individuals and our potential in genuine service to others.