Not all that long ago, we spent hours in libraries, poring through books and magazines to find information that today is easily searchable and accessible. We stuffed handwritten notes, faxes and “while you were out” forms in our pockets to be replaced by 21st century communications and technology. We have multiple devices that make dinner reservations and tell us which way to go, cars that park themselves, microwave dinners, robots that vacuum our floors, rugs and pools. Yet, as I listen, I hear these familiar comments:
"I’m overwhelmed and the backlog keeps growing ... "
"I have too many meetings, e-mails and demands on my time ... "
"I feel like I’m not giving enough attention to what’s most important ... "
"I just can’t keep going like this ... "
While no one likes technology more than I do, the latest advances in tablets, smart phones, cloud computing or anything else is not going to solve our problem. The solution comes from centering our lives on the “one thing” that God calls us to. Moving forward requires us to face three tough decisions:
Our number one priority in life is worship. Worship is the sum total of our attention, focus and longings. This is so much more than what happens on Sunday mornings. It is so engrained into our character and nature that we do it all the time, even without thinking. So, the question becomes not if I am worshiping but who/what am I worshiping? Am I engaged in idolatry, bowing down before the “golden calf” of self-importance, an overbooked schedule, being needed, personally making all the important decisions and getting my way? We got into idolatry through worship, and we get out through worship. We need to repent and set aside prime time in our schedule for worship. Worship “sets the table” not only for our personal relationship with God, but empowers us for service. What could be more important than this?
Psalm 27:4: One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Bury our dead
Much of our schedule is pre-locked into meetings, commitments and expectations that have been going on for years. They may have started out with positive results but have drifted into mediocrity, or worse. With passion for your calling and compassion for people, we need to either strengthen/rebuild the vision/focus of those commitments (Revelations 3:2) or end the expectation of our involvement. I understand that this can be difficult as some of these commitments are buried in DNA, command performances dictated by your superiors, even predating your arrival. As we seek to follow God, investing our time and energies on the important, we can approach people with an attitude of their best interest as opposed to our demands. There are things that just are not going to get handled and not everyone is going to be happy. I can’t find any promise in the Bible where it says life or change is easy, or that my job is to make everyone happy. We need to choose the better for the kingdom of God.
Luke 10:41: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Focus on eternity
It is so easy to let our time, schedules and energies drift, especially toward short tasks that have immediate feedback. Responding to a call or email gives immediate, positive encouragement, but how does it match up with the more important things in life? Much of what happens within life, work and ministry has very long incubation periods, so it’s vital that we have an eternal investment perspective when it comes to spending our time, attention and energies. We have many choices throughout the day—where we spend our time, what requires our personal attention, what can be delegated, what can be set aside. Sometimes, guilt may even direct our choices. We need to choose wisely with an eternal perspective on what is truly important.
Philippians 3:13-14: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
As we eliminate idolatry, bury our dead and focus on eternity, our service to God and people will blossom and produce a rich harvest, blessing many and enriching our lives in the process.