These words by Jesus are words every Christian should be living out, yet many aren’t.
Yesterday was my tenth wedding anniversary, and this weekend our boys are staying with Grandma and Grandpa, and my wife and I are enjoying life together for a few days. As I think back over the past ten years, there have been a lot of fun times and I can say we definitely have lived life to the full because of Jesus.
There have also been times when we (mostly me) have not enjoyed life and lived it to the full. There is always so much to do, whether with ministry stuff, kids stuff, career stuff, house stuff… It is easy to get lost in it all and forget to enjoy life.
One of my best friends told me “slow down and enjoy my bride” this weekend. Those are great words of advice.
Do you need to slow down and celebrate? Maybe a marriage milestone, a ministry victory, or even just having fun for fun sake. If you need permission to live life to the full, consider this permission. You can’t enjoy life when it is going at 100 miles an hour. Slow down and celebrate!
About six months ago my family and I moved into a new house. Just like any upgrade, it takes some time to adjust and grow into the change. As we were planning out what would go where in our new house, we quickly realized that we had no furniture to go into the front living room.
As we moved it was where things were stacked that needed a temporary spot, but once we were mostly settled it was completely empty. It did provide a spot for the Christmas tree, it was the regular wrestle and roll around room for our boys, and several other temporary uses, but for the first several months it stayed relatively empty and unused.
By the end of this month, that room will be completely filled with furniture, almost to over flowing status.
I look at the progression of our “extra room” and see some major parallels to how I live my life and manage my time.
1. Having extra room was strange
The house we moved from was filled to brim; one of the main reasons we moved. Our expectation was to get more room, but once it was there it felt odd. It kind of felt wasteful. We often feel like we need more time, extra margin in our schedules, but once we fight for it and reach that goal it feels strange. Even thoughts of guilt for being lazy might set in.
2. There was pressure to fill it with something
We were so used to having every corner filled there was this unwritten pressure to fill it, and do it quickly. Our society has made busyness equal importance, and so when we have un-planned time we often go looking for something to fill it with, and quickly. Soon we are back to being over-scheduled and busier than ever before.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NLT) 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
How much of your time do you fill thoughtlessly because you feel pressure to always have something scheduled? I realize for me I do it a lot. I need to be more wise about what I plan and why.
3. It seemed much bigger when it was empty
The room seemed absolutely huge when it was empty. Now that there is furniture in it, the size has shrunk by several feet, I am sure of it. My life seems to go a lot slower when it is not scheduled every second of every day. After constantly running at such a fast pace, once we go on vacation or have a free afternoon, we realize how long two hours can really be.
Exodus 20:8-9 (NIV) 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.
God did not design us to be going full speed ahead all the time. Especially as a full time pastor, Sunday is not a “Sabbath day” at all. It is one of my busiest work days, which is exactly why I have a day off during the week. And yet I often fill it with everything but rest and time with God.
Do you have any “empty rooms” in your life? Are you putting pressure on yourself to fill them? Maybe you should stop and think about it for a minute…
Hello everyone, I am still here!
You might have noticed, or perhaps not, but I have not posted very much in the past 3 weeks or so. I do have some reasons why that is, so if you care keep reading and I will explain them to you.
1. I have re-organized my priority list
The past several weeks I have done a lot of self evaluation and reflection. I realized I had gotten a few things out of place on my personal priority list and have adjusted my life accordingly. Due to these adjustments I have not had as much time to sit down and write. Relationships take a lot of time.
2. I have been busy
Not only do relationships take a lot of time, but it seems like everything else does too lately. My life tends to run at a fairly quick pace, but lately it seems to be even busier. Through all the craziness I do see God working, and in some pretty amazing ways. Which does bring me to my next point…
3. My book will be out soon
What time I have had to work on writing has been dominated by getting my book ready for it’s release. I do not know exactly when that will be but it is moving forward. I am so very excited to see the last 2 years of my life getting closer and closer to a printed book in my hand. I can’t wait for you to have that book in your hand!
I am still here, I do have a few blog posts still swirling around in my head and my heart that I hope will make it on here soon. Thanks for sticking with me!
Obviously the Christmas season is upon us, and with it comes some changes in our daily lives. Mainly it seems that our busyness meter gets maxed. We still have our regular lives to accomplish; work, family, church, etc. Yet we add on top of it all many special events and parties and extra shopping and family traditions and… Busyness is already at epidemic levels in our society and the holidays seem to add insult to injury.
A few days ago I blurted out a statement that I hadn’t really thought of yet:
“Isn’t it ironic that a holiday is supposed to be a chance to stop and reflect and remember, yet for most of us it just makes us busier?”
I have thought about what I said a lot more after I said it than before (this is one of my major faults I am coming to realize…). I am not against Christmas parties and family gatherings, I enjoy them all a lot. Yet I do realize that during the holiday season we are basically forced to do things we should be doing on a regular basis and don’t.
- I should shower those closest to me (like my volunteer youth staff) with praise and support and gifts.
- I should get together with friends and co-workers and family for no other reason than to have a good time.
- I should send notes and cards to most everyone I know.
- I should focus on the incredible gift I enjoy every day of a savior sent to earth for the specific purpose of dying on a cross so I can know God in a personal way.
I love the holiday season and all that comes with it, and I hope you do too. As you we both navigate through the next several weeks attending parties, traveling, shopping, and eating ourselves into oblivion I hope that it is all truly a blessing. And please don’t forget to take some extra time off and enjoy the holiday for what it was meant to be. Turn your phone off, leave the email box un-opened, push the pause button on your blog or other projects and enjoy the holiday.
But once January 2nd comes perhaps we should not just go back to “normal”, but still celebrate the life we have on a more regular basis.
The last several months for me have been crazy. Conferences, winter camps, family trips, sick kids, launching a new program (LHGH), mission trip fundraising and planning, all on top of the ‘regular’ stuff that goes with being a youth worker. I can not even imagine what I would feel like if I was not full time, and still have all of these things going on. If you are part time or volunteer, I tip my hat to you, because I know you deal with all of these same things.
Through these months though, I have realized that the busier I get, the less time I take for myself. We have all heard and felt the expectations of a youth worker; ‘it is about service’, ‘sacrifice for the sake of the ministry’, ‘do more so God can do more’. In fact, we often times use the phrase ‘I’m really busy’ as a badge of honor. At least for me, what that really means is I have been doing a lot for everyone else, and personally I am tired, overwhelmed, spiritually drained, and see no end to this craziness. With this mentality, no wonder most people get out of youth ministry because of burn out.
But here is my dilemma, blame it on a servant’s heart or just me being weird, but I feel guilty and selfish if I slow down. This isn’t just regarding the church and ministry, but also with my family. Am I alone in this? I understand the two greatest commandments; God first, others second. (Matthew 22:37-40) But, I know in the midst of my busyness, God does not always hold that first spot. Just think about what is the first thing to get pushed off the schedule; prayer and Bible reading. And the truth is I am supposed to love others as I love MYSELF. If I deny myself all the time in the name of service, then eventually I don’t love myself at all; which in turn makes that commandment impossible to fulfill.
As I have worked through all of these feelings these past months, a phrase keeps coming into my mind, be selfish. It seems strange that God would be telling me to be selfish, but I think that is exactly what He has been telling me. If I sit down to read and pray instead of playing with my boys, I feel selfish. If I go into the office an hour late because I was at an event late the night before, I feel selfish. If I watch a movie and take a nap on my day off instead of catching up on work, I feel selfish. If I go out golfing or on the boat without taking a student with me, I feel selfish. And God is saying to me, THEN BE SELFISH! I understand being selfish can go to an extreme, which is not healthy, but an equally dangerous extreme is selflessness. God knows better than anyone what a balanced and healthy life looks like for me, and I need to trust His wisdom. I know during these past months, selfless has become an extreme for me. God is telling me to pull back a bit to be healthy. If I am not leading a balanced healthy life, I cannot be the Husband, the Dad, the youth worker, or the Christian He wants me to be.
What extreme are you living in? What steps do you need to take in your life to bring balance? I challenge you to ask God, I know he will tell you. Then the hard thing is to trust what he reveals to you and then live it out. I am trying to be a little more selfish, what do you need to try?