“Busy” is the go-to excuse I’ve found myself using a lot lately, when, in fact, “lazy” is the word I should be saying. Why didn’t I return that phone call, or visit that person? Why did I not write that post that’s been percolating in my brain for days?
Is it so hard to create a proper editorial calendar for my blog?
Busyness. We’ve gotten so used to loading calendars and to-do lists that we have lost track of the purpose behind it all. That’s like driving on ice: you’re still moving in a direction but you have no traction, and you may not get to where you’re going.
I was taken aback the other day when one of my social media accounts, which displays memories from past posts, highlighted one of mine from last year in which I was pining for a simpler life. I was taken aback because that is my goal for now. I have been busy doing nothing to gain traction on something that would benefit my whole family. That was, ironically, to live more simply and less busy.
We need rest. I need rest. Rest from the daily grind of laundry, bills, mail, and running crazy-like all over town. We’re busy, but not productive. Efficient, but not effective. This is no way for an intentional, diligent, Christ-centered person to live. So what do we do?
I was in such a whirlwind of busyness that nothing was getting done. It was like being on a hamster wheel – I’d be running at a furious pace but not getting anywhere. So, I asked Jesus in deliberate prayer to reveal to me, using His Word, what He wanted me to focus on. I poured into reading 2 Corinthians and that’s where I found His answer.
“We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you,” Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:13. What sphere of service has God assigned to you?
For me, He has assigned four spheres: Family, home, church, and ministry. If an opportunity opens up to me, is has to filter through the verses that represent these four spheres of service.
Proverbs 21:5 represents the sphere of family: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” For this particular sphere, it’s not about monetary wealth but relational profit. The more busy we are, the less time we spend, on a quality level, with those that mean the most to us. I love my family dearly, and each member of my family are cherished; if they are cherished by me, I need to do some things differently to be diligent in their discipleship and in cultivating those relationships.
I need to encourage discipleship and building of faith in the children – and encouraging my man in his role as spiritual head of the family. Cultivating peace is a huge priority – I can only imagine how the noise level would go down if peace was cultivated between siblings. If I’d communicate more with my husband.
Teaching responsibility and accountability are two other priorities within my particular sphere. The seven-year-old is old enough to unload the dishwasher. I can teach her how to properly load and run it. Even though the older children have jobs, school, or other activities in which they’re involved, they still live at the house – and should have regular chores. I’m preaching to myself here. Writing it down and blasting it as a blog post holds me accountable.
All other activities that try to invade the sanctity of the sphere of family have to be routed through the Scripture and goals. If something or even someone doesn’t contribute to the relational wealth of the family, then the door needs to be shut. Hastly opening our family up to people, activities, or especially media has done a great deal of damage in the past, and contributed to spiritual and relational poverty. Never again. The devil will not have a stronghold here.
Romans 12:8 is the sphere verse for faith. It states, “If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
There are four areas of priority within this sphere as well. Taking Laura to school in the morning, then diligently having devotional time with the Lord starts the day off right, and helps me to focus on Him the entire day – this is instead of going back to bed. Going to bed early the previous night will allow me to build my faith and get started on my day without feeling like I’m dragging a corpse.
I admit, each time some giant of the faith has mentioned early-morning devotional time I become a holy [eye] roller. Who has the time or energy to get up that early and be coherent? Someone who is diligent about their relationship with the Lord Jesus.
In order to encourage, give, lead, and show mercy – I have to walk diligently with the Lord. There’s no other way. The other areas of priority – working with the women’s ministry and teaching part-time in adult Sunday School branch off personal discipleship time. I cannot lead where I do not go myself. I cannot encourage other women to be in the Word if I’m not there myself.
A word about the last priority in this sphere: tithing. When the budget is so tight, when arguments about money are a regular thing, it’s awfully difficult to talk about tithing. But tithing has a lot less to do, I discovered during my reading of 2 Corinthians, than money and a lot more to do with trusting the One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” It’s so tempting to give based on what we don’t have: we paid the mortgage this week so we can’t tithe; we bought food, we can’t tithe; we bought Christmas presents, we can’t tithe. On and on and on. Yet, in 9:8, Paul wrote this: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
It’s about this: do we believe God is able? Do we believe God is able to supply our needs so we can do kingdom work? I get it: when you’re staring down utility bills and mortgage and food, 10% is an awful lot – especially when it’s tight to begin with. Electric companies don’t give you a buy if you just pay 10% of the bill, do they?
Tithing 10% came about in the Old Testament, when Abraham in gratefulness to God gave Melchizedek, the High Priest, a tenth of everything [Genesis 14:18-20] – then, throughout the period covered by the Old Covenant, giving a tenth of the firstfruits of one’s labor was mandated by the Law.
But we are not under the Law. We are under Grace, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:3 – “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
We are to give generously, out of a well of gratitude to God. I don’t know about you, but I have more than 10% worth of gratitude for Him. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” [2 Corinthians 9:7]. We are not under the compulsory obligations of the Law, with its endless sacrifices and mandates. Some of us, we can cheerfully place a folded one-hundred dollar bill in the plate; others, cheerfully place one dollar in the plate and that is a sacrifice.
Jesus, much like He did with the fish and loaves, can take whatever we give Him and use it. He will bless whatever we give, in blessings back to us, in an endless cycle of giving and gratitude. Verses 10-11 in chapter nine states, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” God will take what we give cheerfully and not grudgingly, and will increase the harvest of our righteousness – therefore, creating more gratitude within us.
This harvest of righteousness may not come back to us in the form of monetary gain, for this is not prosperity gospel. The harvest of righteousness may come by the use of funds to hold Vacation Bible School and lead children to Christ, or a food bank. It may come in the form of sending people on missions. I know that God provides, and He provides so that we in generous gratitude can give our time, talents, and treasures back to Him.
House and Ministry
The other two spheres are the house and ministry. I am not called to a ministry of busyness, but of service to the Lord, through my family, my church, my home, and my ministry or business. My home is a reflection of my life – and right now as I write this, it’s not looking so pretty. It’s cluttered but clean; disorganized and disheartened. It should not be this way.
I found this verse in 2 Chronicles, “The men in charge of the work were diligent, and the repairs progressed under them. They rebuilt the temple of God according to its original design and reinforced it,” [24:13]. I need to repair (clean), rebuild (declutter), and reinforce [stay on top of it] my home so that it may reflect my Lord and be a warm, inviting place to share His hospitality with others. Being diligent about this work is important. We cannot allow perceived busyness to take away from our homes as temples of the Living God.
The ministry God has entrusted to me is the same. I cannot allow the devil to get a foothold by doing things that do not support one of three priorities: writing, speaking, and events. I am called, by Jesus, to encourage others in discipleship despite difficulties, through these three avenues. Anything else distracts me and takes my eyes off His calling for me. No more.
Friends, we are not called to be everything to everyone. We are not called to a ministry of busyness and to have our spoon in every pot. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:1, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” I lost my heart for everything because I was trying to do everything. Busyness will kill the intentional life of a Christian. Keep your eyes on Him, and allow your two hands to do only the work He has laid out for you.
© 2017 Terrie McKee