Change of Action, Change of Heart

If you’re a football fan, you know the name Steve Spurrier pretty well. If you’re not a football fan, you may still know that name because he became larger than life. He was the one who was always ripping off his visor and throwing it onto the ground in disgust when one of his players did something stupid, which seemed to be very regularly. He went through several headsets each game because he heaved them around in disgust too. He was always covering his face or grabbing a handful of his hair in total frustration. He himself was a great quarterback, a Heisman Trophy winner in fact. He had had great success as a coach too. When I watched him, I got the idea that he thought he knew how things were supposed to go on the field in front of him but that they rarely went that way. When things didn’t go the way they were supposed to, he was completely undone. He was like an arrogant, impatient teenager having one temper tantrum after another.

I was always been drawn to Steve Spurrier. And it wasn’t that I liked him all that much. Unfortunately, I must admit, watching Steve Spurrier for me was like looking in the mirror. On the inside, about 50% of the time, I feel exactly like Steve Spurrier looked on the outside. I can’t stand mistakes.  In my mind I think I know how everything is supposed to go. If you make a mistake, that is bad and when I make a mistake it is horrible. If people around me make a mistake, I’m arrogant enough to think it is somehow my mistake that they made their mistake. It’s my job to make sure nobody makes a mistake which is a deathly little trap I have created for myself.

Steve Spurrier dealt with football, a game that cannot be played well enough. There is really no such thing as the perfect football game. There might be some little moments of perfection, just enough to lead one to think the whole game could be perfect, but the game is such that it really cannot be played well enough. There’s always something that could have been better.

My world deals with parish ministry, something that cannot be done well enough. There’s no such thing as the perfect parish, though around here there are perfect little times which tease me into thinking it should all be perfect. But dealing with spiritual matters, and a large group of people,  is such that perfection is not possible. There is no such thing as the sermon that couldn’t have been just a little bit better. Always something could have been improved. Pastoral care cannot ever be just right. There is always more to do. I’ve never gone home after a day as a priest and thought I got it all right. I just can’t get to everything.

One great advantage I have over Steve Spurrier is that I am not permitted to behave the way he did. On the inside I can be slamming my visor on the ground but on the outside I just can’t act that way.  You wouldn’t stand for it. I have had to learn how to act in a way that appears to be calm and patient. But I have also had to find a productive way of dealing with my inner conflict or else I probably would have exploded some years ago. A big breakthrough for me was when I admitted that on the inside I feel just like Steve Spurrier. It has become my daily confession to God.

My greatest surprise is that the church has offered to me a path of transformation. The church has taught me to give. When I was first ordained I started giving 10% of my salary to the church. At first I did that simply because I knew if I didn’t, my life as a priest would be a fraud. But I have discovered what a great gift that has been to me. Basically I am a self- centered, impatient, overbearing, arrogant so-and- so. But giving 10% of my money away is changing me, changing me into being more trusting and more patient. It is teaching me that I can live on less than I think I need. It is teaching me that God provides when I or you cannot provide. It is teaching me that not everything has to go exactly as I think it should in order for it all to work out. It is teaching me that life is more joyful when I live it lightly than when I press so hard. It is teaching me to allow things to fall into place rather than forcing them. Giving is teaching me to see that there really is a perfect plan for all things, a plan that is out there for me to discover but not out there for me to control, a plan that isn’t always my plan. Tithing forces me to give up some of what I want , some of what I think I need, and then teaches me that what is left is more perfect than what I wanted and thought I needed.  When I started tithing I felt like Steve Spurrier 90% of the time. Now I’m down to 50%. And next year, maybe 45%. The church is teaching me that if I can act in a  more generous way, I will become more generous in my heart.

Every year your church asks you to give. I know most of you pretty well.  You’ve got the same mess inside you that I have inside me.  We struggle with the same issues. Tithing would help every one of you in remarkable ways. You need to do it just like I need to do it.   We need to change. And there is simple way for that change to come about.

Learn to give. Tithe. Give 10% of your money to God. Take up the practice. It’s not a burden. It is a sacrifice, I will say that. It takes some guts. But it is what our Lord wants us to do. Take a bigger risk this year. Give a bigger percentage of your resources. See what happens over time. Change your actions and watch your heart change.

 

Yours faithfully,

Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.

 

The All Saints’ Roll of Remembrance will be read at services on November 5. If you have family or friends who have died in the past year, please notify the church office so that their names may be included on this list.

 

Special Events Around the Corner

Last Stewardship Meeting – October 22 at noon (30 minutes)

Halloween Carnival – October 25 at 6:00 pm (Wear costumes to “Boocharist” at 5:30

Grounds Clean Up Day – November 5 at noon

Ordination to the Priesthood for Jamie Osborne – November 11 at 11:00 am

Bazaar – November 15

Thanksgiving Eve Eucharist – November 22 at 6:00 pm

Stop Hunger Now – November 26 – need 100 volunteers!

 

 

Adult Classes October 29 – December 10

The Book of Psalms – Led By Robert Wisnewski

Introduction to the Enneagram through Literature – Led by Karen Funk and Carroll Nason

Living the Good News Bible Study – Led by Dudley Perry