“Get to” vs. “Have to”

I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about the benefits of a “get to” mindset instead of a “have to” mindset.

It started with the snows that came on Thursday and Friday. It continued through H2O’s Senior Retreat on Saturday. And it’s flowed into today’s H2O responsibilities as well: staffing our “Prayer Team” (which happened to be a team of one today)… counseling a young couple through some turbulent times in their relationship… and Life Group coaching at the end of the day.

The truth is that it’s been a busy week. I’m tired, and I fear the coming week (at the Collegiate Conference) will deplete my emotional reserves even further. The weather is making an unmistakable pivot towards winter right now. These things are a given. They’re out of my control.

So I really just have to choose my mindset. Do I have to do these things? Or do I get to do these things?

Winter is cold. Daylight is scarce. But there is also a beauty to the frost, the snow, the austerity of the landscape, and the flat, low light. There’s also something lovely about a fire in the fireplace, a hot soup on the stove, and an evening full of family and blankets in the Family Room. I get to rake leaves this afternoon! I get to wear the thick Carhartt flannel I inherited from Bill Hettinger! Between now and the end of the year, I get to continue attempting to complete the Northeast Ohio Loop of the Buckeye Trail when the trails provide a beautiful solitude and stillness! These are privileges that I just cannot enjoy as thoroughly through Spring, Summer, and early-Fall.

I’m working a lot of hours this week, and next week is going to be comparable (if not a heavier workload). It’s my job to shepherd the flock that’s been entrusted to my care: praying, preparing, counseling, preaching, presenting… But I love our church! I love our Staff Team! I get to play a crucial role at a crucial moment in the relationship of a young couple that I love — and I get to do it together with Marci! I get to build relationship, make blankets, sip tea, and pray for the people in our Life Group while sitting fireside in our Family Room this evening, for Life Group Coaching! I get to play key roles at this week’s conference: stimulating interest in European missions, promoting the Collegiate Mentoring Program from the main stage, pitching the Aspen Project to potential investors (and a whole room full of potential practitioners). And all week long, I get to do all this meaningful ministry while dining on tasty food in a really cool college town.

A significant part of what’s helped to shift my mindset is the prayer of Jesus from John 17:1-5. Even though Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the eve of his Crucifixion — and even though it’s a highly emotional moment — his prayer doesn’t come across as weepy or woe-is-me. He doesn’t even mention the bloody scourging, shameful mockery, or death-by-suffocation he’s about to endure. Instead, he prays a prayer of glory! “Glorify… glorify… glory… glorify… glory…” Isn’t that amazing?!? Jesus prayed with a “get to” mindset instead of a “have to” mindset!

We can do the same. From day to day, season to season, we can choose gratitude and hopeful anticipation. I don’t always succeed in doing this, of course, but I want to keep trying.

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