Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed.
Many years ago, early in my “minister chapter” in my life, I read a booklet: Manna in the Morning by Stephen Olford. A booklet was a common thing in those days. Small, they would easily fit in the pocket – and a quick read. This booklet was kind of a legendary booklet. It told the story of the manna from heaven, from the book of Exodus. Each day, the people would gather the bread (manna was the “bread from heaven”) they needed for the day. It was provided every day, from God, and it was provided for years. In the story, the people could only gather bread for that day (and, for two days the day before the Sabbath). If they gathered for more than one day, it would spoil – badly. So, gather the bread each day, eat for the day, repeat, day after day.
Mr. Olford viewed this as a metaphor. He described “Manna in the Morning” as the practice of a personal “quiet time” — a brief time, every morning, early in the morning, for reading and reflection, for prayer and connection, to launch one out into the day with the right reminders about the kind of person to be, living life in the way that life was intended to be lived.
And, for many of my days, I would follow that practice. Not all – but many…
This is a powerful practice. And you don’t have to be a religious person of any kind to see the value. Our lives are so full, busy; we are so easily distracted. We are so overwhelmed with tasks at hand, that we can forget, or ignore… we end the day failing to do the things we know we should be doing.
This is seen especially in what we call, in the business world, the “soft skills” arena. Let me give just one example: every book on leadership is pretty clear – leaders need to be very good listeners. But, in the midst of a busy day, with the demands of the day growing stronger hour by hour, we become too busy to “stop and listen.” And yet, tell me what is more important than for a leader to listen to his/her people… There is nothing more important. So, what if each leader spent just a few minutes a day, first thing in the morning, reading a short piece, being reminded to “listen to your people” today? It might just be the very reminder he/she needs to actually stop and listen…
Back to Manna in the Morning – I just recently realized that my current manna in the morning practice is the process of writing blog posts, nearly every day. Each day, I take some moments and ask, what is important to reflect on this day? Sometimes, it is based on what I am reading. Sometimes, it comes from interactions, and my exposure to needs in the work world. But each day, I think: “this is worth a thought or two on my blog.”
In other words, the practice, the discipline of blogging regularly keeps me thinking about work – my own work, and my work in helping people with their work.
And, I suspect (I hope), for some readers, the practice of reading this blog has become “manna in the morning.” A quick read, gathered for the day, to help you refocus, and think about the work you do and how you do it.
Another phrase used for this practice back in my ministry days was “daily devotional reading.” And there are countless books and magazines, in every Christian denomination, providing those short readings for the day: The Upper Room; My Utmost for His Highest; Max Lucado has written some of these. I used to write a few pages, for a few dates each year, for a magazine called Power for Today. (That seems like a very long time ago).
I think that practice is one that helped form my current practice. If I can borrow the phrase, this blog is almost like a “business devotional.” There is just enough, in these short readings each day, to help you remember to be devoted to the people you work with — their success, and, yes, the overall success of your organization. Remembering what is important, again this morning, and every morning, is a good daily practice to follow.
The other booklet that I remember so well was The Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel. In it, Mr. Hummel stated, so clearly, that the “urgent” could so easily crowd out the “important.” It was a reminder to save time for the important, and not let the urgent crowd it out. That daily focusing time could help one remember what is truly important.
So, those are my thoughts this morning…