Processing Kairos Moments
When you hear the word “discipleship”, what enters your mind? How does it make you feel? There’s often this assumption that we have to be either very smart or blameless before we can begin discipling someone. While wisdom and purity are great attributes, I believe we can start discipling others without any of these things.
This year, I’ve rediscovered and re-appropriated a tool that has simplified my own efforts. Both in my life and others. I call it ‘processing our kairos moments’.
What’s a Kairos Moment?
In the New Testament scriptures, there are two Greek words for time: chronos and kairos.
Chronos is where we get the word “chronological”. It simply means “linear time”.
Kairos, on the other hand, means “moment of opportunity”. It’s used almost 90 times in the NT and refers to the moments in everyone’s life when something has happened that requires a response. For example, in Mark 1:15 Jesus says, “The time (kairos) is here. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news”. Jesus is saying that something is happening that must be reckoned with; the hope of Israel (and the world) is finally being put into action. Some people discerned what was happening and responded by following him. Others reacted to this kairos moment with rejection.
Here’s a simple process to help you discern and process your own (and others) kairos moments.
Detecting a kairos moment requires paying attention to what is happening in and around us. Here’s what it may look like: someone “says something” that irritates or frustrates you. You “hear some news” that immediately creates feelings of anxiety. You “find yourself” in a situation that feels embarrassing and your knee-jerk response is to hide. These are kairos moments. Moments of opportunity that are beckoning a response from you. How we respond has formative power for how we live our lives.
In discernment, we tend to our feelings and emotions with presence. Our aim here is to uncover what’s happening beneath the surface by asking questions.
Why am I angry or afraid? What am I believing about God at this moment? What am I believing about myself?
We continue pulling back the covers to connect to our hearts. We’re seeking to discern the lies that we believe that hinders our ability to live as the beloved of God. It’s essential that we’re honest with ourselves here. Often enough, this whole process will require the help of others who we know and trust.
This step is crucial. When we face difficult situations, we tend to construct plans for dealing with them. The problem perceived is the situation (something primarily outside of us) and not the lies and forces at work in us that cause us to live in fear, shame, guilt, or scarcity. We ask, “What should I do? What do I think God wants me to do?” We’re in a rush to regain equilibrium or control.
What we need primarily at this moment is not good advice or pithy statements that help us feel in control. We need to hear good news. News of who God is for us in Jesus. I’ve heard it said, “If Jesus was sitting next to you, with his arm around your shoulder, what would he say?”
We need to hear timely, contextual, and concrete proclamations of who God is for us in Jesus. In doing so, Jesus is subverting the lies we believe replacing them with a word of grace and truth.
In responding to the good news, we are discerning how God is inviting us to respond in specific, concrete, and tangible ways. This takes patience and imagination. Remember in the wilderness when John the Baptist proclaimed a message of repentance and different people asked what it looks like to bear fruit in keeping with repentance. He says something different to each person. To one he says, “Be generous”. To another, he says to stop taking more than what is required. To another, he says to stop taking money from people using force but be content with what you have.
Responding is neither about getting our act together nor creating plans to adjust our attitude problem; it’s about how God in Jesus is inviting us to live into our belovedness in embodied ways.
Reflection is about accountability and testing the fruit of the process. In accountability, we are being intentional about processing our kairos moments. In testing the fruit, we are observing the outcomes. Do you feel rest in the process? Or, was the process burdensome and heavy? As we ask these questions, the process continues and we continue working through our kairos moments by repeating the process.
Processing My Own Kairos
Here’s a quick example of what this looks like in an ordinary situation. A few months ago I remember struggling to get my kids to brush their teeth in the morning. Especially my youngest daughter. She would cry and I would get angry. This continued for almost a week and a half.
If you’ve noticed, it took me a week and a half to notice that this was a kairos moment. Instead of being present to my kairos, I was simply reacting in frustration. At work on my lunch break, I began the process of asking myself why I was so frustrated and unable to respond in love towards my daughter.
As I asked questions, I discerned that I was living from a scarcity mindset. Here is the lie I was living in: I don’t have enough time to stop what I’m doing to see why my daughter is crying. If you noticed, she’s having her own kairos moment. She’s just too young to discern and process that. Also, I didn’t “want” to love her at this moment. My aim wasn’t love but efficiency.
As I began to listen to the Father I was reminded that the eternal kind of life he offers me is one of loving union with him AND others. He was inviting me to trust that slowing down and engaging my daughter was where he wanted to meet me so I could: 1)live in union with him and 2), live in union with my daughter. He proclaimed the good news of the ‘availability of life abundant’ into this situation through his Spirit.
The next day, it happens again. She doesn’t want to brush her teeth and she again begins to cry. I stop ironing my pants and I go to the bathroom. I bend down and I ask her, “Why don’t you want to brush your teeth?” She shrugs her shoulders. So I say this, “Mia, daddy loves you. Forgive me for the times I yelled at you. I know brushing your teeth is painful for you but I believe that you can do this. And I’m willing to help you if you need it.” I’m began by owning my own frustration which has only worked to make the situation worse.
She reluctantly begins but with my presence, she begins to brush. She asked me to help with her tongue because she struggles to do it well. At this moment my posture shifted from scarcity and anger to love and patience. I believe at this moment my daughter and I encountered and participated in the love of God.
This friends, is what processing our Kairos moments are all about. We face moments like this everyday and God is inviting us to respond.