Jump Start # 3005
Jump Start # 3005
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “there is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under Heaven.”
One of our Jump Start readers wrote me recently about the work load I carry. I am busy. I am also a workaholic. There is so much to be done. I am blessed to be engaged in the greatest work in the world—preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not everyone can do that. Most have secular jobs. And it is those jobs that often create spiritual guilt in us. Our jobs require so much time. Even when we come home, many are bringing their work home. School teachers do that. Many medical people do that. The paperwork is overwhelming. Many travel and traveling these days is long and stressful. And, when you travel, you often do not put in an eight hour day. Your day looks more like twelve or fourteen hours. Then, it’s back on an airplane and traveling home. And, what I see and what I hear is brethren who are weary and they gather on Sundays and we preachers pour on the guilt about reading your Bible more and doing more. And, there you sit, wondering “how?” Wondering if the preacher ever worked a secular job? Wondering what it would be like to walk in his shoes where you have the luxury of studying, teaching all the time. We need our jobs but are our jobs killing us spiritually? It’s not just the time element. It’s the mental strain and energy. We are exhausted at the end of the day. It’s also crawling back into the slim pit every day of toxic attitudes, gutter talk and unashamed immorality. You would love to quit, but you can’t. You don’t even count the days until retirement because that only makes you more discouraged. Where are you to find the time to be a parent? Where do you have time for your spouse? Where do you have time for the Lord? Where do you have your own time?
Have I painted a real picture for you? Is this where you are? And, you wonder if the shepherds and the preachers understand. You are so tired, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and of trying to wear all the hats you have to wear. You want to do more in the kingdom. You want to teach. You want to become a shepherd. But when? There simply isn’t any time.
I don’t know if I am one to offer the right suggestions, but I will try. For more than four decades I have preached and my world is different than yours. There were periods in which my wife worked nights. I tried to do my work at home, and with four little ones, it was hard. There were a few days when as soon as she came in, I left for the office. I don’t miss those days. I don’t think my work was the best during those times. Guilt, stress, deadlines—I’ve tasted all of those.
Here are my thoughts:
First, remember balance. You cannot do it all and you cannot do it all right now. Find ways to take mental vacations. You don’t even have to leave your house to do this. Music can do this. Reading can do this. Sitting on the back deck can do this. The more stressed and stretched you are the more you will take it out on those you love the most, including your family and the Lord.
Second, the demands of little children changes as they age. I could not carry the work load I do today if my children were still at home. I’m an empty nester now. The day will come when little ones will go to school. The day will come when they will be off to college. The day will come when they will be on their own. Your time and even the amount of money you pour into them changes. While they are home, they need you. It is important that you are in the stands watching their games. It is important that you are in their lives. Use this time to read the Bible to them. This allows you to read yourself and teach them. You do not want to save the world and lose your family. That’s not a good tradeoff. There will be time later on, if the Lord allows, for you to do more with others. But even when they are home, you can have other families over on a Sunday. You can take them to funeral homes. You can grab a rake and have them help you help someone else.
Third, there is that wonderful passage in the Gospels where the Lord commended Mary for pouring the costly perfume upon Him. Jesus defended her and said, “She has done what she could.” And, that’s all God can expect from any of us. Do what you can do. Learn to be efficient. Learn to use your time wisely. Get organized. Delegate. Notice, Jesus did not say “Mary has done everything.” Mary could not do everything. Mary could not go to the cross for us. Mary was not a chosen apostle. Mary was not a miracle worker. There are things that Mary could not do. But, she has done what she could. And, so must you. Do what you can do. You won’t do it all, nor should you. But, you can do what you can. And, as time allows you, you can take on more.
Fourth, no one understands what is going on in your world and in your life more than the Lord does. He is not here to beat you up, make you feel like trash and trample any hope you have remaining. Not at all. He knows you juggle your job, family, congregation and personal life. The Lord is here to help you, not defeat you. Among us, the Lord often provides help but we just don’t see it. First, look within your congregation and see who is really a busy person and very spiritual. There are many busy people in the world, but they may not be very spiritual. You want both. Carve out a couple of hours so you can spend time with that busy spiritual person. It may be one of your shepherds. You want to know their daily routine. You want to know how they balance work, family and God. You want suggestions. You want tips. You want help. Then, look among the congregation at someone who is retired. Take them to lunch. Ask them how they did it. You are getting perspectives. You are gaining insights. Then make adjustments. Learn to say “No.” Realize that burnout is the death of spiritual life. Find ways to recharge yourself spiritually. Find ways to get excited about worship again. Set some goals. Set goals for you. Set goals for the family. Use down time as opportunities. Sitting in airports, boy I’ve done that a ton. Use that time to read. Use that time to text others in the church. Waiting for kids, I’ve done that. Use that time to pray. Learn to adjust and balance.
When our passage says, “There is time for every event under Heaven,” that does not mean it all happens at once. These events occurred at different times. Different days. Likely even different years.
I have found much good in the principle of the drops in a bucket. It works financially. It works in Bible study. It works in connecting with others. It works in kingdom work. A drop falls into a bucket. It’s hardly noticed. Then another drop. Then another. It takes a while until the bottom of the bucket is covered. More drops. Slowly, some water can be seen in that bucket. Then more drops. In time, the bucket is half full. More time, and that bucket is filled. More time and the bucket is overflowing. We see that overflowing bucket and that’s what we want. We want that financially. We want that spiritually. It’s possible. You just constantly and always keep adding drops.
The work environment has changed. The atmosphere of so many places is that “this job is your life.” It’s not. Once you die, you will be replaced within a month. That’s even true of us preachers. Your life is Christ. Your life is your family. Your life is getting to Heaven. Keep the right perspective and keep going.