Before dawn wakes the early commuters of London, Don is up making the first pot of coffee in The Servants of the Word household. By the time we get to breakfast at 7 am, he’s already spent the early hours immersed in writing and the study of the Bible. As the eldest brother in our household of 11 men, Don sets the pace for the rest of us at the start of the day. Jamie Treadwell (JWT), one of our Servants of the Word brothers, asked Don a few questions to give an update on what this American is up to after seven years of living in London, England.
JWT: I know that you do a lot of writing. Which writing projects have you been working on lately?
Don: I have just finished writing a book entitled Training in Excellence: How godly character forms young people and strengthens Christian communities. It’s based on a series of talks on Christian character traits for leaders which I have been giving for the Kairos Student Worker Outreach Training program in Europe. This book is intended as a study aid for those who have a direct role in helping form Christian character, especially in young people.
JWT: For the past few years you have been writing daily Scripture meditations and posting them online. How have you seen this aspect of your ministry grow?
Don: I write and post the daily Scripture meditations for people who want to go deeper in their understanding of God’s Word (the Bible), but are busy and distracted. There are an average of 7,000 daily visitors on my website: www.dailyscripture.net. Kairos, the youth outreach of the Sword of the Spirit, sends out a daily email version of the meditations for people who sign up for a free subscription. There is also an iPhone App and Android phone App for the daily meditations. A few other websites also carry the meditations. So, I estimate that there are somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 people who regularly read the daily meditations.
JWT: Where do you get the time and motivation to write the daily Scripture meditations?
Don: I have a full time job and I get lots of service requests, so making some extra space, both mentally and spiritually, for this kind of study was not easy at first. I found that the best time for me was the early morning. My household has daily breakfast at 7:00 am followed by common prayer together. I regularly wake up at 4:00 am and take the three hours before 7:00 am as my “quiet time” to be alone with the Lord to listen to his Word.
In addition to reading from the Scriptures each morning, I love to read the biblical commentaries from the early church fathers. An early church father described God’s Word as an inexhaustible spring of living water. That has been my experience as well. Writing down my meditations becomes a natural way of expressing what I am learning from my encounter with the Lord and his life-giving Word.
JWT: You work full-time for Sword of the Spirit and you give lots of talks in the European region. What are some of the highlights of your service?
Don: A fair amount of my regular work week entails writing and editing for Living Bulwark, a monthly online magazine for the Sword of the Spirit (www.livingbulwark.net). I regularly get emails from people in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and the South Pacific, as well as North America, and Europe.
I also do retreat work, speaking engagements, and some training seminars for Sword of the Spirit communities in Europe. I particularly enjoy speaking on themes from the Scriptures with practical application for everyday life. My favorite work is with the Kairos student outreach workers. It is very rewarding to see young people engaging the Word of God and being transformed by it for their personal lives and mission work.
JWT: What do you most enjoy about life in The Servants of the Word, especially in the London household that mixes generations?
Don: I have been a member of The Servants of the Word since its beginning in the early 1970s. I thoroughly enjoy daily life with the brothers in my household in London, England. Our London household currently has 11 men in it. Ages range from 22 to 65 years. Half of the men have made a life-long commitment to The Servants of the Word. The other half are young men interested in joining The Servants of the Word. They are in various stages of discernment and formation in our way of life as a brotherhood of men living single for the Lord.
Living together a daily pattern of common prayers, meals, and practical service (i.e. cooking, cleaning, washing dishes) is very rich, rewarding, and at times a stretching experience. Common life with the brothers pulls me away from focusing on my own personal preferences and interests. It helps me to be more focused on serving others and being attentive to their needs and concerns. Living with a household of brothers can be competitive at times. I like to wash the dishes after each meal, but the younger brothers sometimes beat me to the sink. I also like to crack puns at the dinner table, but the other guys are getting quicker at beating me to the punch line. And they clearly have more energy than I do – my energy reserves usually dry up by early evening.
Living in a mixed intergenerational household of men who want to give their all to God is a great preparation for the age to come in the kingdom of heaven – I wouldn’t want to trade this opportunity for anything else, except the community of angels and saints who dwell with God in his heavenly court.
This article is from our 2012 Christmas Servants of the Word Newsletter [3.7MB PDF].