Growing Deep Devotions #1
The following abridged devotions I am posting have been written for the Growing Deep framework of Lutheran Education Australia. The full versions can be found in the Devotions tab of this site. The purpose of LEA's Growing Deep Framework is for all staff in Lutheran Schools and Early Childhood Centres to reflect and plan for growth in their leadership, spirituality and vocational formation. A large part of the framework are the capabilities which are derived from AITSL standards and viewed through a Lutheran educational lens. These capabilities with their respective descriptors describe how we do what we do in Lutheran education. As well as that, these descriptors can assist us to identify areas for professional and spiritual formation. These devotional and theological thoughts have been written with that in mind.
1. Growing Oneself
Working in a Lutheran School or Early Learning Centre means one needs to be filled in order to serve others day in day out. Growing in our capability involves growing personally. We grow in order to be the best we can for the sake of serving those entrusted to our care. We grow in our self-awareness, our faith, our ability to learn, adapt, change, and maintain a positive outlook, so that we can continue to flourish in our vocation especially during testing times. The four descriptors for growing oneself are building self-awareness, deepening faith, learning and adapting and living positively.
1.1 Building Self Awareness
God has created us as human beings to feel a wide range of emotions. Everything from love, joy, wonder, amazement, and contentment to the more ‘difficult’ feelings of fear, shame, disgust, sadness and anger. And what’s more when God created humanity he created our emotions and said; “It is good, very good”. God gives us permission to not only consider and name our feelings but also to express them openly. The problem lies in our self centredness and propensity to sin. This affects the way we express our emotion, how they come out. To the early Christians in Ephesus Paul writes an interesting thing concerning one of the most challenging of human emotions, anger. Paul writes to the Ephesian Christians; Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:26–27). The Message translation puts it this way; Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
In this passage Paul is giving us permission to be angry and express this difficult of emotions but not let it lead to sin so that it erupts on others in harmful ways that hurt and destroy. God has given us our emotions for a reason. They are not to be denied or suppressed. When we are angry God is telling us that there is something deep down that we need to attend to. Anger is the natural pressure value God has given our bodies so that when it goes off we look below the surface to see what is going on deep down.
Having an awareness of how our emotions affect other people is important in any relationship. How we express our emotions, and how those expressions of what is happening deep down inside of us impacts the people close to us, is vital for nurturing good healthy relationships. As it has been said people are sometimes hired for a job because of their IQ but leave a job because of their EQ. One writer on growing an emotionally healthy spirituality names these attributes of emotionally healthy adults:
Building our self-awareness is inextricably linked to our awareness of God’s presence in our lives and in the world. Augustine wrote in his Confessions; “How can you draw close to God when you are far from your own self?” Meister Eckhart, a Dominican writer from the 13th century wrote; “No one can know God who does not first know himself”. And St Teresa of Avila wrote in The Way of Perfection; “Almost all problems in the spiritual life stem from a lack of self-knowledge”. And in our Lutheran tradition, Martin Luther who had an acute sense of his own depression and how it surfaced in his life always sought refuge and consoled others to hang onto Christ and the freedom and comfort be brings through the gospel.
So to grow in our emotional and self-awareness it is important to also grow in our relationship with God. When we reflect on what is happening emotionally inside us and connect that with God we are practising a contemplative spirituality. Some contemplative practices which Christians have developed to intentionally build self awareness and an awareness of God include:
Lord God, help us as you build our self-awareness. Give us the wisdom that comes from knowing and controlling what happens inside us and how it affects others. When we are under pressure, help us be attune to one another, rather than adversarial. As we grow in managing our emotions, grow us spiritually in our relationship with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Zondervan, Grand Rapids: 2006, p.179
 Also called the Awareness Examen
About this site
"Meditations & Musings" is my humble attempt to share what I have found useful in ministry in an Australian Lutheran School setting. It contains chapels, devotions and other resources I have written, used and adapted in my K-12 school context. If you would like to also share your ideas, resources or start a conversation about mission and ministry in your church- school location, feel free to contact me.
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