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Advent often kicks the frenetic pace of ministry into a higher gear. Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, we know that Advent is here yet again. Given the absurd number of administrative and pastoral tasks to complete before the end of the year, along with the deep desire for rest, it feels like there is not enough time. How does one thrive under these conditions?

For starters, let’s not be anxious about time, even though we must remember to discern it. The question is not “How I will get everything done?” The question is: “What is God doing now and how do we respond?”

Depending on where you live, the weather may be screaming “winter” even though the calendar still says “fall.” Similarly, the beginning of Advent is a holy reminder for us to anticipate when God is doing something new. “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near” (Mark 13:28).

One of the critical tasks for congregational leaders is to pay attention to what God is doing in the current season. Sometimes we get fixated on the past or anxious about the future. But where is God leading now? We must occasionally step back from the flurry of activity to notice what needs to change and how we need to change. Are we wearying ourselves by promoting programs that have run their course? Are we doubling down on traditions that need to be expressed in a new way? Is everyone on the team prepared for the next season? If not, can we help them to prepare?

Make no mistake about it: The season is changing. God is up to something. The only question is whether we are paying attention.

Resources

How to think about long-term viability in the face of urgent needs

Five questions centered on mission and vision can help organizational leaders find clarity about the sustainability of their work, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

By David L. Odom

Allowing Advent to find us honestly

We can reframe the Advent season in order to reclaim it, writes an author and academic.

By Shannon W. Dycus

When wringing every moment out of the day still isn’t enough

Reconsidering our relationship with time can move us from a mindset of mastery and control to one of openness.

By Emily Lund

Our bold “yes” this Advent

Rather than viewing this season as awaiting a return to the past, we can embrace it as an invitation to transformation and action.

By Kelly Ryan

The wait might be the thing we’re waiting for

This Advent, the practice of waiting can feel like a burden, but it can be exactly the gift God wants to give us, says an author and speaker.

By Enuma Okoro


Before you go…

What I love about this time of year is the palpable sense of expectation that I feel. I know that the year is coming to an end. But I truly believe that somewhere in the extended darkness, God is doing a new thing. My job is to pay careful attention to the clues of what God is up to and follow them wherever they lead. As my childhood pastor once told me about discernment, “There are always clues.” Listen to the hurts and the joys, the prayers and the questions, and you will begin to notice when the season is changing. Is it time to leave or is it time to recommit? Should you use your leadership capital to start something new, or would it be wiser to wait and see? “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Do you sense what God is up to now?

You can reach me and the Alban Weekly team at alban@duke.edu. Until next week, keep leading!

Prince Rivers

Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity


‘Leading and Thriving in the Church’: A new podcast from Alban at Duke Divinity

In the fifth episode of “Leading and Thriving in the Church,” Prince talks with Paul Baxley, the executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Listen now!

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