“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.” Hebrews 5:12
“Although there were many aspects of serving in full-time ministry that I loved, there were more things that happened along the way that made a negative impact on both myself and my family. It took many years of forgiving and getting plugged in to a healthy church before I really began to heal from the hurt.” - A former Pastor
In Part One, I stated that in the typical American church, 10-15% of the staff and laypeople are often doing a majority of the work and often Pastors struggle to trust or empower others to execute their vision.
On the other spectrum, many Christians argue that they do not have enough time to actively pursue their faith the way they wish they could.
In Part 3, we are going to discover how God created us to have a rhythm of life that is balanced yet productive and fulfilling.
Before I had kids, I really had no idea what being busy really entailed. Now, between careers that demand all our time, social obligations, children’s activities, hobbies and wasted time on things like TV, the average American is busy, stressed, and exhausted with no relief in sight.
We tell ourselves its time management then buy books, calendars and apps to make us “more productive” but in the end we usually end up just filling our schedules with more. The church is no better than our culture often trying to accommodate people's busy schedules and it ends up with more activities during the week, which means more leaders and volunteers to aid in these events. We can never rest if we attempt to find our identity or value in our work or vocation, this includes ministry. Too many of us fall into this trap, which is why we are always fighting and working harder, to prove our value and worth by the world's standard.
God has designed us to be productive but honestly a majority of our church functions are just more events on the calendar and more days filled with events that people feel obligated to attend. How many churches today are caught up trying to build His church (which God is supposed to be doing - Matthew 16:18) when we are really called to make disciples? (Matthew 28:19)
In Genesis, we read that even the Lord rested on the Sabbath. When was the last time you really unplugged and rested?
I read a book last year about a burnt out executive that spent a week at a Monastery. He was forced to unplug and really just spend quiet time with God in prayer, meditation and worship. It changed his life and saved his marriage, career and family. Sometimes, we need to realize that less is more.
This does not mean that work is bad, Scripture is quite clear that we need to have a Christ-centered work ethic. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25
In John 15, Jesus gives us a lesson in gardening and bearing Fruit. He wasn’t talking about retiring to Napa and starting a vineyard but about a rhythm to life and our walk in Christ. God is pruning and growing Spiritual Fruit in our lives if we are abiding and remaining in Him. We need to allow adequate time in our lives to abide in Him and learn to recognize where that abiding turns into growth and not fight the gardener when it comes time to prune.
In order to be truly productive and happy in life, we must begin from a place of resting and abiding in God. Despite the lies from all the success books and blogs, we cannot constantly give 110% without burning out. We cannot function at our best if we are beginning each day feeling physically, mentally, or spiritually tired. While we often eventually allow for physical and mental rest, we often neglect our spiritual rest. In fact, not taking time to rest can be self-centered especially if you are a leader that thinks they must be doing everything or cannot delegate.
One of the hardest lessons a leader has to learn is that we cannot control everything, that we cannot prepare for every contingency or meet everyone’s needs—in short, we are not God. Leaders are often stressed because we carry around a burden that God never intended for us to carry and we try to rush His work or do it for Him.
So if Jesus is making an important statement about remaining and abiding in Him and bearing Spiritual Fruit, then we must ask ourselves how we do that?
What did Jesus Do?
Honestly, he’s a man after my heart (or probably the other way around) Christ often took time away from ministry, crowds and even his Disciples to be still, pray and most importantly listen to the commands of His Father. Sometimes Jesus had to go to the wilderness, a desolate place, the sea, a hillside, a mountainside or a lake.
We need to live out our Fruit from the overflow of our relationship with God. Which means we need to take time from our work and activities to devote time to prayer, reading and studying Scripture, worship or any meaningful activity that allows us to connect with God. We wife loves walking in nature and praying. I love listening to music or Biblical books and thinking. Whatever activity or lack thereof that allows you to feel close to God, needs to be an intentional part of each day.
If God is our daily priority, he will become our compass for decisions. If we honor Him above everything and take time each day for this, He promises to take care of the rest. We have to learn to let go and let God. Christ offers us deliverance, peace, and rest. He will be our righteousness, identity, and security, if we simply believe in Him and trust in His power and Glory.
Stay Tuned for Part 4 - Three Ways To Live a Balanced Life