Spiritual Formation

Doing and Being

"No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind." – Taylor Swift by Captain Stephanie Pavlakis

Christmas in The Salvation Army is busy. This is no surprise to anyone who has spent any time at a Salvation Army unit between the months of October through December. Christmas is not a day, it’s a full season in itself. Between toy drives, kettles, fundraising events, Christmas distribution, holiday parades, and so much more, there is never a shortage of work to do when it comes to the holiday season. And yet, Christmas is my favorite time of year.

In this season of doing, it is also a season of purpose. When all of our doing has so much obvious and immediate results in building the kingdom of God by serving our neighbors in need, by creating community, and by fundraising so that we can continue to do the most good all year round, the purpose makes the doing more meaningful. Each person who volunteers knows that what they are doing matters. That they are a part of something bigger than themselves, something life-changing. In the doing, we have the opportunity to be blessed through the spiritual disciplines of service and compassion. And in being the hands and feet of Jesus, we grow as believers through the practice of actively loving others.

At the same time of doing, Christmas is also a season of being. It is the most meaningful when we find the moments to pause. When we practice gratitude. When we acknowledge the presence of God. When we slow down and are present. In the carols that we sing, allowing God to speak to our hearts through the age-old lyrics reminds us of the beauty of a baby God-King born in a manger. Through conversations with those we serve, slowing to listen and learn from our neighbors, showing them the respect of being heard, we love them like Jesus does and our ability to love grows. Being is soul care in a time that can easily become a season of chaos and consumerism.

Often, we think we must either be excelling at doing or being, but perhaps it can be both. Perhaps it could even be that while practicing being and doing at the same time, our experience in the doing grows from our ability to be present in that moment. The doing is enhanced by the being and the being finds new opportunities through the doing. We don’t have to live in a tug of war between the two. If we can find the ability through the Holy Spirit to be both, we’ll find a new type of spiritual formation available to us. This is the season of doing and being. Be blessed by the opportunity to love in this way.

Experiencing God

  • What are your favorite “doing” things of the Christmas season?
  • What are some of your “being” highlights from past Decembers?
  • This year, consider “being” intentional in the “doing.” What  differences do you notice in your “doing” experience? 

Supporting Scripture

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10

This article was published in the December 2023 issue of The War Cry.

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