For the Sake of the Mission - Part 3
In part 1 of our series For the Sake of the Mission, we explored the importance of having a mission, and that we have a God-given mission to make disciples. In part 2 of our series, we discussed how each one of us is equipped to go about the mission in a different way than someone else. The mission is the same, we are all called to make disciples, be we don’t all go about it the same way. On this post, we will look at how we can make sure that the mission will be a priority in our lives.
Everyone is busy. I am not sure about how it might be where you live, but everyone around me is always super busy. I could safely say that we are currently and constantly too busy. We are too busy to have meaningful relationships, we are too busy to experience intimacy with our spouses, we are too busy to listen and connect with our children, our parents, our loved ones. We hurry and rush and we crash. We are out of control and Satan is happy because busyness keeps us from what’s most important in life.
Though there are many reasons for people to be busy I believe much of it stems from worry. We worry and our worry drives us to try to take care of everything which never works out because so many things are beyond our control. We can only do so much. Being busier is not the answer, the answer is making time for what is most important, and when necessary leaving things of lesser importance undone. Sometimes we are struggling to become better at doing what does not need to be done at all. The tricky part is identifying your priorities and setting aside resources accordingly.
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
- Matthew 6:25-34 NKJV (bold mine)
Jesus makes it very clear. Focus on God and everything else will fall into place. As you focus on God you realize that He is calling you to partner with Him in salving and blessing those around you. so what do you say? Are you willing to be sued by God to bring salvation to others? Are you willing to spread the blessings you receive from God? Are you willing to create value in the lives of others? To invest in people? Then you have to make your connection with God a priority.
You probably feel like everything you do is important and must be done and nothing can be left undone, but is that really the case? Is checking the news as important as reading the Bible? Is checking social media as important as praying? Is that YouTube video as important as giving your child your undivided attention? Do you really need to check your email constantly throughout the day? There is always just one more thing that “needs” to be done, one more thing begging for your attention, but ultimately you decide what you will pay attention to, what you will spend your money on, and what you will dedicate your very precious time to.
Everyone around you would love to set your priorities. Your kids, your spouse, your boss, your co-workers, your friends, your classmate, your teacher/professor, etc. Everyone has an idea of what your priorities should be. When I turn to God He also has clear priorities for me. Jesus said I should seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. So God must come first, and out of my relationship with God will flow my other priorities.
Allow me to share with you my current top priorities and the rationale behind them.
First and above all comes my personal relationship with God. This is probably the hardest priority to keep. I know you’re shocked right? I’m a pastor, my full-time job is to be connected with God, but God does not call, text, or email me. If I fail to spend time with Him He does not complain or look at me funny. Actually, I don’t see Him with my eyes. I don’t hear Him with my ears. When I am busy and stressed and don’t take time to slow down and seek Him, like everyone else I go about my life trying to save myself and those around me with my own strength. I fail to listen to the still small voice.
It is interesting how everyone wants me to be available whenever they call, and I do my best to be, but everyone also expects me to be spending time in my personal devotion to God. I must be available whatever time of night, and I am willing to answer the phone and talk and meet. I don’t mind. But the next morning it becomes difficult to get up extra early for that personal time with God, and it is easy to just hit the ground running and neglect my number one priority. This top priority is the most important, to fail to seek God first, and to place Him as my top priority, is to fail at life, because without God I can do nothing (John 15:5).
So God is my top priority.
Second, comes my wife. The day I married her I vowed to be by her side, to love and cherish her ‘til death do us part. Only God can come between my wife and me, no other human being can take the place of my wife in my priority list. I often wrestle with the practical applications of this as well. but having the priority established helps me navigate the practical application. Also, I have learned with my wife by my side it is a lot easier to face life and whatever this world throws at me. Life, ministry, work, everything is easier when things are going well between my wife and I, so investing in my personal relationship with her is definitely a worthwhile investment.
My third priority is my children. They did not ask to be born, that was my decision. My children are dependent on me. God has also entrusted them to me. My children are my responsibility first, but I also benefit from the help of my family, both my blood family and my church family.
Now comes my physical health. This includes eating, resting, and exercising. When I am healthy I can better serve all who are around me. God, my wife, my kids, my church members, all benefit from me being healthy. So my health must remain a top priority.
Finally comes ministry. You could argue that how I treat my wife and kids are part of my ministry and you would be right. How could I minister to you, to my church members, to my friends and neighbors if I am unable to minister to my own immediate family? On the same note, I cannot sacrifice my family or my health in the altar of ministry. I cannot make ministry my god. Ministry is what I do, and I do it best when my relationship with God, my spouse, and my kids are healthy. My relationship with God dictates what my relationship with all others should look like, and I make time for these relationships because God calls me to.
Finding time is perhaps our biggest challenge. It is interesting, however, how time is there, we all have it, everything we do is a matter of time management and prioritizing. I would like to begin with sleep. There is so much to be said about sleep and I strongly recommend you read up on it. For now, I’ll just say that if you’re getting less then 7 hours consistently you’re hurting yourself. There’s a really interesting TED talk entitled Sleep is your superpower. Therefore I am not suggesting that you take time away from sleep. Please do your best to get 8hrs of sleep, at least shoot for that.
Work varies a lot from person to person. In the US the average person seems to work about 8hrs per day. But whatever your case is, you have to work, if you’re a student, studying counts as your job.
So if we separate 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for work we still have 8 hrs left for other activities. These last 8 hours is where the magic happens. This is the time that would be more under your control. This is when you run errands, clean, fix things, socialize, etc.
I would like to recommend you write out what your day looks like and what your week looks like, then your month. How many hours are you dedicating to different activities? How do those activities contribute to your mission? To the mission that God has called you to?
Many of us can work in such a way that during work we are also fulfilling our mission. You can treat those around you with dignity and respect. You can be kind, honest, dependable, and make that part of your testimony. You can preach about the love of God by being loving to those around you. As opportunities manifest themselves you can share a bit of what God has done for you. Your love for God should shape all your interactions, and in this way, in every interaction, you are making disciples, by setting an example of what a Christ-follower should do. Of course, you will only be able to do this if you are in seeking God daily and learning from Him how to live and treat others.
As far as sleep is concerned, make sure to get your 8 hours. It will help you have the health, patience, and alertness you need to succeed in the mission. It is hard to read the Bible when you’re falling asleep, and it is impossible to be loving and patient when you’re exhausted. So, please, take care of yourself for the sake of those around you, for the sake of those you love.
Now we come to those other 8 hours. The ones that you’re not sleeping or at work. How much of that time are you dedicating to the mission God has called you to do? Passively attending a church service for 45 minutes once a week will be barely enough to guarantee a miserable spiritual life. You need more than just listening to a pastor speak. You need a personal connection with God and a clear mission. We spent time on your personal mission on part 2 of this series. So I will assume you have some clarity of what God is calling you to do. The question now becomes how much time will you dedicate to it. You will not experience joy and fulfillment and significant spiritual growth without making a conscious and dedicated effort, without dedicating time and resources to it.
Look at your day, look at your week. How much time do you dedicate to your mission? How much of your time do you dedicate to seeking the kingdom of God and to expanding it? How much time do you dedicate to learning about God, and to sharing what you learned? How much time do you dedicate to creating value in the lives of others?
Listen, connect, share, fix, build, heal, help, encourage, teach, do something for the benefit of another because of your great love for God. As a response to God’s great love for you.
Being a Christ-follower is not about church attendance. Being a Christ-follower is about the mission, and the mission is to make disciples, and you need to discover what God is calling you to do, how are you to use what you have to make disciples, then use it! Start with time, I find that when you dedicate time, your other resources will follow. When you believe in the mission, when God breaks your heart for the life of those around you, you will dedicate your time and resources to extend God’s blessing to that person. In fulfilling God’s mission for you, you create value in the life of others, you help them experience a little bit of what the kingdom of God is all about. I know this is God’s will for you. Jesus died on the cross that we might live, He gives us life and everything we need to accomplish the mission, we just have to turn to Him and receive His help and be willing to go.
Pray, research, network. You will not accomplish your mission passively. You cannot just sit on the pews. Listen to God, make time to listen to Him, and move, do something.
Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity. You will be waiting for your whole life. Look at what you have, begin where you are, and watch God take you to places you never dreamed of. God will bless you and make you a blessing, and it will all be for His honor and glory.