Monday, March 7, 2011

The Busy Christian... Chapter 4

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness
Chapter 4
: Sort out your priorities

Paul exhorts his readers to ‘redeem the time’ or ‘make the most of every opportunity’ (Col 4:5 and Eph 5:16). Does that mean we always need to be busy? We can’t relax or take a break? No. Paul is not talking about the minutes and hours of our days, but the ‘times’ we live in and the opportunities we have.
To redeem the time is not to fill our days with activity. It’s a call to live as children of light. We are to live in a way appropriate for the time in which we live, and the time in which Christians live is the coming new age that is breaking into the darkness. It is about what we do, not how much we do. (p50)
To get our priorities right, we seek to put the kingdom of God first. We are to be gospel-centred. Paul and Jesus at the end of their lives could say they had completed the job they were given. They did not have long lives, they did not finish the to-do list yet,
Jesus and Paul could speak of speak of completing the work not because they had completed a defined task, but because they had worked faithfully throughout their lives… The ‘success’ of our lives will be measured not in what we have ‘achieved’ but in our faithfulness. (p52)

Chester suggests that most people order their lives in this way:

lifestyle => job => home => church => ministry

That is, you choose the lifestyle you want, then the job to fund it, then the home nearby, then a church that works, then a ministry we might do. He calls this leftover discipleship – the time for Christian community comes from what is leftover at the end of the week.

To put the kingdom of God first is to reverse it so that church and ministry are first:

ministry =>church => home => job => lifestyle

Once you have thought through your church and ministry, keeping service (not just my gifts) at the forefront of our decision making, then we can consider when we may live which assists our ministry, followed by a job that allows us to do our ministry and a standard of living that allows us to serve God. “Discipleship means living for Jesus and letting everything else fit around that.” (p57)

For many of us in full-time ministry, we may feel like we have already made this decision. So, the question may become – do you find contentment in this, or do you wish for more? Have you decided to work to enable an increase in lifestyle? Do you resent those in your congregation who have the home or lifestyle you would like?

He concludes with some comments about ‘me-time’ and family time.

For me-time – we need to be careful that ‘me-time’ does not become an excuse to self-indulgence. “We are called to balance work and rest. But we are not called to balance service and self-indulgence.” (p58)

As for family time, consider your aspirations for your children, for that is where our true values surface. ‘Do you hope your children will be comfortable and well-paid? Or do you hope they will be radical, risk-taking gospel workers?’ (p59) He challenges us to think about making service the thing that unites us as families, doing something together for the good of others.

Things to think about:
  • Are you able to view your success as a measure of faithfulness not achievement? How do you measure on that scale?
  • How is your life ordered? Does some of the order need to change?
  • Do you tend to overindulge in your me-time?
  • What are your true dreams for your children?
  • How do you talk to others in your congregation about these things?

We’ve seen that what you do matters more than how much you do. Next week we turn to how you do it matters more than how much you do. So, the next step is: Glorify God all the time. Chapter 5, next week.

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