Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

A Work of Heart by Reggie McNeal June 29, 2011

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 3:50 pm

A Work of Heart is all about how God shapes His spiritual leaders. It looks at the lives of Moses, David, Paul and Jesus. McNeal examines how culture, call, community, communion, conflict and commonplace all play into God shaping some of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time. McNeal uses both Biblical insight and life experience to bring all these elements together in a very practical book with lots of application.

The focus on Biblical characters was a great start to the book because you could see how God used all these elements in these men’s lives to create them into the leader He needed them to be. Growing in spiritual leadership is a process and didn’t happen overnight for these men. Even though stories of their leadership may seem common when told over and over again – it was a good reminder to me that no one showed up on the scene ready for their call because they had it all together. Jesus while being perfect, still had to grow and let God shape him so he could accomplish his call. Sometimes I crave to that final “arrival” where I am the perfect spiritual leader and I’m fully ready for all God has for me. I’m learning that this might never be the case. I might be flawed, I might be scared, I might be overwhelmed and unequipped. This doesn’t matter when I can see how God has prepared those before me and I know He will prepare me for whatever He calls me to do.

The second section of the books focused on the elements that shape us as spiritual leaders. Reading through it, I could see how God had done this for those before me and how He is doing that work in my life now. The art of examination and looking deeply into whom we are and what made us that way is so important to the success of a spiritual leader. McNeal works with many ministers and has seen real life examples of the good and bad in leadership. We must know what has brought us to this point and take a hard look at both the positive and the negative. Once such assessment has been made, the spiritual leader is free of the baggage that might be holding them back from all the potential God sees in them.

The two elements that stood out to me the most were communion and commonplace. The chapter on communion really challenged the spiritual leader in spending time with the Lord and letting Him shape their life through His constant presences and influence. In a world full of noise and activity, it is easy to drown out of the voice of God. I struggle with this myself. So many commitments fill my time and steal away that private encounter with God. Cell phones, laptops, email, text messaging make us constantly available to others, but are making ourselves available to God? The practice of communion with God is the strongest element in my opinion to sustain a leader in ministry. Without that influence and presence, I am working in my own strength which won’t get me all that far in life.

The second element of commonplace is another one that I have more recently discovered. God grows us in the commonplace activities of life. There is a lot to be said of being faithful in the small things. I know that even in the ordinary and every day, God has a plan for me. I have an opportunity with each new day and each new moment to serve my Maker and glorify Him. This could be as simple as a kind word or what seems like a small sacrifice. God grows character in those moments and prepares us for the bigger things that lay ahead. Ministry is not glitz and glamour, but it is being faithful with what the Lord has given to you.

I would recommend A Work of Heart to any leader. It was so good to evaluate where you are and see how God is shaping you. For a young leader, this book could help you set out on a balanced path and avoid the pitfalls of those who have come before you. For a seasoned leader, this book can give you the direction to get back on track and reclaim lost ground. No time or season is wasted if God’s glory can be seen in growth and life change. McNeal will walk you through the many elements that shape spiritual leaders and you will find that God has been shaping you for a very unique purpose.

 

Psalm 36:5-9 June 24, 2011

Filed under: Bible — Amy Scott @ 10:12 pm

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.  How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!  People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

This verse was running through my mind tonight as I watched the sunset at the ocean!

 

Get Down June 21, 2011

Filed under: Children's Ministry,Women in Ministry — Amy Scott @ 5:30 am

I will admit that my legs are sore today. However, they are feeling a lot better when I compare them to Sunday and Monday. You might wonder why I am so sore. At children’s church on Sunday we sang “Get Down”. The song is originally performed by Audio Adrenaline. Google it if you are unaware of the song. The song sings the line “get down” numerous times. Every time it is sang, you squat to the ground and then get up. Thus, “I get down and he gets me up.” Over and over and over again!!! Well, after my many “get downs”, I was feeling it and continued to feel it.

As a leader in children’s ministry, I often have to make the choice to go all in. I could have not done the motions to this song because it would make me look silly and it would make me hurt for the days to follow. However, I choose to be a good example for the kids in that room and I got into it so that way they felt free to get into worship as well.

Sometimes we don’t want to go all in. We would much rather do certain things and not all things that pertain to our ministry. I’m wondering what spiritual muscles we are allowing to un-strengthened when we choose not to use them. It takes a lot of energy when you decided to give it everything you got. It may not be seem like a big deal whether I do the motions with the kids at worship, but I’m choosing to totally enter into my ministry role. Giving it 100% might hurt at first. Just like all muscles, its takes time to build up strength. I’m sure if I “got down” enough it would no longer cause my legs to be sore. It just takes practice and consistency.

It might seem like a silly example, but it’s a simple truth stuck out to me today. Going all in can take a lot of effort and energy. There might be a season where it makes us sore because our muscles just aren’t used to the work yet. Going all in and getting involved will eventually grow those muscles and tone them so you don’t even break a sweat. Maybe someday I’ll actually experience that after we sing “Get Down”…

 

Balance the Checkbook June 20, 2011

Filed under: Women in Ministry — Amy Scott @ 2:42 pm

I always thought it was a silly illustration to use a bank as a way of saying where we are at emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Making deposits and withdrawals seems like such an odd way to judge oneself. I first discovered this illustration in college and didn’t think too highly of it. Now that I’ve lived a bit longer, I can start relating more and more the banking metaphor. Back when I first started out this path to ministry, I had a lot more energy. I thought I would be one of those people who would be at the church anytime the doors where open. I didn’t understand balance. All I understood was dedication.  Being dedicated is good, but we all have our limits. As a young student, I couldn’t fully grasp the concept of sustainable ministry. I assumed burn out was impossible when you’re working for God.

Now have I’ve been in full time for the last five years, I can see how we must keep things in balance. Just like a checkbook, if I’m giving myself to others and to ministry, I must also be depositing into myself. I’m not an endless supply of energy (though I sometimes wish I was). I’ve learned that some relationships are investments. They take work and don’t pay off over night. I’ve learned that when I’m making major withdrawals for the sake of others, I need to make be making major deposits, so the bank doesn’t run dry. No one like to dip into the red.

We all have different things that add resources back into our banks. For some it is hiking, cooking, crafting, etc. We know the tasks that make us feel good and give us that new round of energy to tackle life. I am an avid reader. Reading a good book inspires me and bring so much energy to my soul. I view a good book almost as dearly as a close friend. Now as a woman in ministry, I read a lot of books about leadership and how to grow and develop spirituality so I can be the best person possible. These books are great, but sometimes I just need something else to fill the bank.

Last summer I re-read my favorite book series that I read as a teenager. The characters have always meant a great deal to me and it was almost like a reunion and reconnection with myself and with the things I love. Over the last month, I have read the Anne of Green Gables novel series. While these books might not be solving world peace , they made me laugh and they made me cry. They were perfect escapes into another time and another place. Sometimes I’m tired of walking in my own shoes. I thrill at the chance to slip into a book and see the world from someone else’s perspective.

Now I love doing book reviews and I thought about reviewing the Anne books and posting them here on my blog. For a while I really debated this idea, because I thought it was silly.  I pondered the purpose of reviewing a book series that had nothing to do with ministry. So here is a my review in a roundabout kind of way – I loved these books because they took me away from Lewis County, WA for a while. I knew that I needed to invest in my bank account before I ran dry and went into the red.

My challenge to you is – how is your checkbook balancing? Are you are withdrawing more than you are depositing? Is your checkbook close to going into the red? We are different and have our own things that spark our interest. I have learned to put aside my pride of looking like I’m always reading for a divine purpose and I have opened myself to things that make me happy – even they seem childish. The simple things in life and the things we have loved since we were a kid are often the ones that fill us up the most. Don’t put off reading that book  or doing that project or planning that hike. Choose to invest in yourself – not selfishly, but with the intent of refilling the bank so you can freely give to others.

 

Major God Moment June 16, 2011

Filed under: Recollections,Simply Me — Amy Scott @ 5:53 pm

As I mentioned in my last blog, “Most Tenacious”, I’ve been struggling with moving past my current place and moving forward with the dreams that God has for me. Part of this moving forward involved me going through my childhood memory boxes to find my old journals. While I was searching for my journals, I found so many things that truly reminded me that my dream of being a writer has been with me for a long time. I laughed as I read a description I wrote about myself during my freshmen year of high school that says I love to write and dream to have a book published. Some things don’t change in 10 years! I still feel that way today and the desire to be published is growing even stronger with me and pushing me towards to new dreams.

Okay, here is the kicker – I found my “Most Tenacious” award!!! I couldn’t believe it! Just yesterday I was wondering if it was thrown away in childhood haste and yet no, it is preciously tucked away and well preserved! I feel like God gave me these items to remind me of who I am and really who I’ve always been! He made me this way and He knows how much I want see my dream come true – the dreams He gave me! I was so excited about finding the award that I had to take a picture of it and post it on my blog! I’m just as proud of that award now as I was then! The crazy thing is it dated June 11th, 1996 – almost exactly 15 years from the day I started to ponder my award and be challenged yet again by it’s meaning!

God has a way of confirming things to us and it is so unique to who we are and how He loves us! He is so creative in speaking to my heart and reminding me that He has heard my prayers and has good things in store for my future!

 

Most Tenacious June 15, 2011

Filed under: Recollections,Simply Me,Women in Ministry — Amy Scott @ 3:33 pm

During my 4th grade school year, my house was flooded by the Lewis River in Woodland, WA. This was definitely an experience I remember vividly. Many people in our town had a similar flooding situation; however, I was the only one in my class whose home had flooded. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Fredricks, was a kind woman who spoke into my life a lot that year.  I went back to school the next day after the flood and I remember the hug she gave me. She hadn’t expected me back to school so quickly and her response made an impression on me. Throughout the year, she shared words of encouragement with me.

One time when we were on the bus driving back from swimming lessons, she sat beside me and shared that sometimes we have hard situations in our lives so that we can help others later through their own hard situations. As a 4th grader, I thought that was nice to say, but the true meaning didn’t sink in right away. At the end of the school year, Mrs. Fredricks gave out awards to many of the students in her classroom (I’m guessing everyone got one, but I only remember my own). She gave me the award for Most Tenacious.

Until this award entered my life, I didn’t even know what the word tenacious meant. One definition of tenacious given by Webster’s dictionary is “persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.” My little 4th grade self was unaware of the impression I was making while just trying to make it through the school year and recover somewhat of a normal life. I have had other accomplishments in my life, but winning Most Tenacious still stands out to me.

It seems easy to be tenacious in a time of struggle. When life gets hard we all need an extra bit of tenacity to make it through. When you’re working towards that goal – whether it is finishing a degree, buying a home, seeking promotion and advancement, trying to reach a new level of ministry, or trying to reach that one person who needs break through – we seem to be hold to hold tight and maintain a firm direction and course.  These moments strengthen us as we use “faith muscles” we may have never had to use before.

Recently, I found myself in a place where I have felt stuck. I’ve always been a very goal driven person. Some of them have come true through a lot of hard work and some still wait to become reality. At some point, I felt like that I had done all that I could do. Things were the way they were and I couldn’t do anything to change it. I was at a crossroads. I could decide to accept things as they are or push forward and believe that there is still more out for me. As I began to think over all the dreams that I still have, this whole story of my Most Tenacious Award came floating up from my memory. I realized that I wasn’t acting very much like my 4th grade self who pushed through the sometimes yucky, real life stuff and moved on with my life.

There are moments when I get tired and I lose my tenacity. I don’t maintain the course and I feel stuck where I am. I know that when I push through these emotions and feelings, I can see that God has a lot in store for me when I’m willing to keep pressing on for the next thing. I have not arrived yet, I’m not who I want to be and I know that God’s not finished with me yet. I can sit back and let life happen to me or I can partner with God and be proactive.  It’s easy to get comfortable where we are at – even if we are unhappy there. It takes courage to step forward and say I want more and I am going to put myself in line with God’s will and go for it. True accomplishment doesn’t come from sprints of emotion, but from a tenacious spirit who is willing to maintain the course and not give up the dream regardless of anything.

 

Gifts June 13, 2011

Filed under: Bible,Women in Ministry — Amy Scott @ 11:00 am

God gives us all talents and special gifts. I have been told this since the time that I was a little girl. Working in children’s ministry, I tell this to lots of children as well. I know that God made each one of us special and that he has a plan for our gifts.  Psalms 139:14 says “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

I have this truth tucked away in my heart, but there are times as a woman in ministry that I don’t feel like my gifts are enough or even that special when I compare them to others. I’m an ordained minister and a pastor’s wife.  When I visualize what a woman in my shoes should have in the way of skills, I picture a woman who is a great public speaker, who can sing or plays the piano, she is never frazzled or uncoordinated, she remains calm at all times and always has an answer to every question. This is very far from the truth of who I am.

Throughout my ministry experience, I have taken many personality tests that are supposed to help me figure out how my gifts, talents, and skills are best to be used. It turns out that I’m an introverted perfectionist who leans towards being a bit of a nerd and super organized. I will admit that even though I’m a good administrator and these tests are been accurate in their findings, I have found that these aren’t the things that define my life and my ministry. God has used these gifts I have for his glory, but under the surface I feel that there is so much more.

So I can organize things well and maybe I can’t sing, the truest gifts in my life I have learned are the relationships that I have built in ministry.  Like I mentioned before, I work in children’s ministry. I spend most of my time with 4th-6th grade girls in a small group environment. The relationship that I have built with my students is a blessing in my life. Sometimes I may wish that I could stand up in a pulpit and preach eloquently to a crowd of people, but then I realize that I do have influence in many lives. It might not be in a flashy, eye-catching way, but each conversation I have with student or a parent is a divine appointment from God.  The influence God has given me is not to be taken lightly. I view it as a precious gift.

I might not have all the skill sets I desire or even that I think I should have to fit my role. I know that God has equipped me with what I need to live his calling. Psalm 139:16 reminds me, “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” I know that God has made me and all my complexities and I know that he has laid out each step of my journey. I might doubt my gifts. Sometimes, I would like to suggest to God which gifts he should have given me. My life would be so much easier if I was… Fill in the blank.  God not only made me but he knew exactly how he made me was going to affect every day of my life. He isn’t in heaven thinking, “Oh no, I forgot to give her this specific skill! How will she ever make it in ministry?”

I can see that God has called me to where I am right now. I might not fit the mold I think I should, but then again, I’m not the one who created my specific mold! God created me just as I am and he knows how he is going to use each unique gift and what I view as sometimes a boring skill set. As I evaluate where I am, I see the faces of those I love and who I get to minister to on a regular basis. If it is just for them, if I am here just so I can be an influence in their life, then it is worth it. My gifts and talents might not be anything to brag about, but the truest rewards in my life are the relationships that the Lord has given me. I need to remember that I am where I am for a reason and I am wired and skilled the way I am for a reason.