Seeking human favour always carried amber warning lights in my ministerial formation. We’ve seen too many examples of fall from grace in the political arena – and church leadership ain’t far from politics!
Yet Luke’s gospel speaks approvingly of Jesus increasing in human favour.
As an Enneagram Six, I am naturally inclined to seeking human favour. In my earlier unaware state, this did me little favour indeed! Compliant, secretive, anxious, afraid of criticism – I was the company “yes” man! While serving my instincts for survival in the human jungle, I quickly discovered this didn’t work in the areas that really mattered – deep relationships with others. Worthwhile ministry quickly plunges one into this territory.
Integrity and transparency were the traits to which I had access to cultivate. They served as antidotes to my unconscious self-preservation strategies. The motive of currying favour to serve myself began to transform into genuine service of others. I don’t see this dynamic receding during retirement.
Reflection on this four-fold increase in Jesus’ development as described in Luke 2:52 suggests that wisdom, stature and divine and human favour are inextricably linked.
In retirement, they can be expressed as goals against which one may establish measures (I refuse to call them KPIs!)
Wisdom – maintain a reading, workshop, lecture program
Stature – work to physical, health and collegial regimes
Divine favour – set regular times for contemplation and continuing spiritual formation
Human favour – continue to seek out opportunities and avenues for service and socialisation.
This is why retirement is looking more like refirement!