Where are you looking? Up or down? A speaker I heard years ago recommended looking at the sky more. He said it helps give you perspective. Even when you are looking at a garbage dump, he suggested, if you frame it with your fingers, you will still be looking at 80% sky, 20% garbage dump. That image stuck with me. 20 years later, if I’m feeling stressed, sometimes I’ll remember to simply look up at the sky. I always feel better. Sometimes I even actually hold up my hands and frame what I’m looking at by squaring my thumbs and my fingers. He was right. There’s always more sky.
And of course, there’s a spiritual corollary for church leaders. “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2, NRSV) Looking up is a way of remembering what is ultimate — not the challenges that are in front of us, but God’s love, care and wider purposes for us. Just like the sky, God is always bigger.
I find that literally looking up helps me remember to look up spiritually. Whether I’m facing upsets at a church I’m working with (or my own), worries about my family, or a writing project that has stalled, a wider perspective always helps.
Here are six ways to use the sky to help you keep your perspective.
1. Literally look up at the sky. Right now.
2. If you’re inside, walk to the window and look out.
3. In a tense meeting, imagine the sky for a moment.
4. Put the sky on your desktop, or smartphone lock screen.
5. Use a glimpse of the sky as a way to remind yourself to pray.
6. Look up and recite the verses from Psalm 121 cited above.
What are ways you remind yourself to look up, to look beyond yourself and your church (or personal) problems?