Summary: Exhausted. Empty. Enslaved. Do those words describe you? I believe that God never piles on more than we can handle. What to do when you are overbooked, overworked, and overstressed. I’ve simply got to learn to say “no” to some of what I’ve been sayi
Several years ago, Maryanne was out of town visiting her family in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I was here at home with Alan who was in school. He was about ten and I was trying to do things that were fun with him. One of those was skateboarding.
We live on Wallings Road between Ridge and York in North Royalton. It’s a rather steep hill. He had inherited an old homemade skateboard. We walked up to Mapleridge to skateboard on that street because it was level. When it was time to go home, I decided to skateboard down Wallings. I took a deep breath and jumped on.
The first few yards were all about me showing Alan what a cool dad he had. I’m balancing and lookin’ good! But then I started to gain speed and suddenly a look of terror hit my face. I could no longer ignore the truth that skateboards don’t have breaks. What was coming was inevitable. I knew it and I’m sure Alan knew it.
To avoid killing myself I had to take a flying leap from the board. The big question was, “Could I run fast enough after jumping off to keep from hitting the asphalt?” I underestimated the speed of the skateboard and overestimated the speed my legs could carry me. I hit the asphalt and rolled! I skinned my arm and back. I ripped my shirt. When I finally stopped, I’m sure Alan thought, “My mom’s not home and my dad’s dead. What’s gong to happen to me?” Well, I survived. (And now you can tell your friends tomorrow that you have a “stupid guy” for a pastor.
I craved the feeling of looking cool and tough to my son, Alan. The faster I went, the cooler I thought I was. But the higher the speed, the more painful the crash.
Why do I tell that story? Really, it’s not just a story about me. It’s a story about most of us. You’ve rolled up your sleeves to build a life, a family, a career, a ministry. All the charts are up and to the right. The pace has been steadily increasing. The pressures and the responsibilities and the stress levels are going up, up, and up.
And you fear that your life is spinning out of control. If the speed keeps accelerating, you’re going to have to take a leap. And your landing will probably not be pretty. The faster you go, the more spectacular the crash. And a more spectacular crash means more damaged people. And for you, the thrill of living is being replaced by a sense of impending doom.
A phrase that I’ve been using a lot recently is “sustainable pace.” I’ve been asking myself and others around me, “How do I live life at a sustainable pace? If I keep living at the current pace, there will be a crash. I’ve simply got to learn to say “no” to some of what I’ve been saying “yes” to.
When saying “no” to people is saying “yes” to God
Series: Right on time:
What to do when you are overbooked, overworked, and overstressed
Are you doing more than God intended? Do you feel like you are constantly living in the rut of a rat race? Do you know how to avoid getting overbooked? Wouldn’t it be great to think at the end of each day that we were leaving no important thing undone? That first things really were first?
Over the next two weeks, we’re going to learn what to do about all the competing demands that come our way from the people around us. We can avoid the tyranny of the urgent and learn to live our lives doing what might not be urgent, but is vital and important.
Last week, I mentioned three words that describe our lives. Exhausted. Empty. Enslaved. Do those words describe you?
I believe that God never piles on more than we can handle. I believe that God never overbooks us. I believe that God never drives us to the point of breakdown. I believe that God never burns us. I believe that God never gives us tasks that are beyond the strength or ability He provides.
When we become overwhelmed by our commitments and responsibilities, we are operating on their own agenda. Followers of Christ are particularly at risk of assuming responsibility for things we should not. The work is never completed. There is always another phone call to make, a person who needs help. What we must learn to do is figure out where we have assumed ownership for things God has not intended for us to do.
For a long time, I’ve been awed by a little prayer Jesus prayed in John 17 at the end of His life on the earth.