wYesterday, I shot my best two rounds of disc golf ever. On both courses, I had back nines of 6 and my combined scores for the two courses was only 29!
Now, those aren't great scores. But for me, they are fantastic scores. I did twice as good as I normally do. And do you want to know why? I stopped trying so hard.
The same thing happened last week with my sermon. I have been a manuscript preacher - although, if I'm honest with myself, my manuscript isn't the polished manuscript of some, but I write it exactly how I would say it, stream of consciousness style. Only without the stress of a congregation in front of me when I do it. It's a style that has helped my preaching be a bit more authentic and yet it also gives me the security blanket of those pieces of paper in the pulpit.
In two of my last three sermons however, I haven't really used a manuscript that I prepared before hand. And you know what - they were pretty good!
I think that I have always been raised to believe that we have to put 110% into everything that we do. And while that is a good philosophy, it's not sustainable in the long term. Because giving 110% means that you are giving more of yourself than you have. In otherwords, it's terrible for self-care. If you are always giving and not taking the time to fill yourself back up 110% then you will burn out.
The other problem with that way of thinking is that it makes it all about you. It becomes about what you have put into it, rather than thinking about all of the other factors that come into play.
For example, in disc golf, if you throw the disc at 110%, your arms will tire out quite quickly, but you also are not using the discs properly. You aren't factoring in for the wind, or the nature of the particular disc that you are throwing. In my case, backing off from the throwing power also has helped me to work on my form and I have far more accurate drives and putts than I did before.
In the case of my preaching, when I get out of the way a little bit, and leave just a little bit more up to God in the moment, I am ALWAYS amazed at how God takes what I have already done and makes it amazing. If it's all about me and the way that I wrote it, then there is very little room for God in the moment - even though God was a part of the process.
I have always been a hard worker... and I firmly believe that we need ot love God with our whole selves - heart, mind, soul, strength. But sometimes that also means we need to understand that God is God and we are not and empty ourselves so that God can work through us, like empty vessels ready for the wine.