May 16, 2012

If it is true that “every man born on this earth is called to find and realize himself in Christ” (p. 37 of Thomas Merton's Bridges to Contemplative Living) then I have some work to do.

Henri Nouwen writes in his book, Reaching Out, how we need to empty ourselves in order to make room in our hearts and minds for others. When leading and working hard it is easy to fill my heart and mind with prejudices. Because I live in a busy world with so much information I feel that I need to create prejudices to help me “size things up” quickly and put people and situations into a box that I think I know about.

However, Nouwen tells us this is not good. Nouwen writes, “Real training for service asks for a hard and often painful process of self-emptying” (p. 108). That self-emptying is the process of getting rid of the prejudices that I have developed over my life, which are often based on real life examples and interactions I have had. However, when I have those prejudices it does not allow me to truly be hospitable to others by authentically listening to their story.

I agree with Nouwen that training for service in ministry is the process of self-emptying, and I have some of that still to do as I finish out my last couple months at FPU. 

Question: How do you empty yourself?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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