“I don’t have time to do all that I should!” A thirty-something-year-old man just called me with that exasperatingly heavy thought. I think most men attempting to be responsible with work, family, and faith know what this guy is feeling – overwhelmed. Christ faced it too.
Jesus’ coma in the middle of a Houston-like storm illustrated the measure of fatigue he sometimes experienced, and it is no wonder. The Gospels picture him as up VERY early in the morning, busy all day, constantly being touched, called for, sought after, and up in the middle of the night in one-on-one time with God. Leading any enterprise is filled with constant headaches. Jesus’ movement hit snags. The rank-n-file were fickle, there was posturing and infighting among his leaders, the was continual opposition and competition. Scripture says once that he sighed or breathed deeply — extreme frustration. Like many men, Jesus kept a full calendar, but, unlike many of us, he did everything well. How can we?
Put (and keep) first things first. Our hero spelled it out for us when he said, “What I hear my Father say, that I say. What I see my Father do, that I do.” His God was the center of his attention. For me, that means beginning my day with Him. I see Him through Scripture. I hear him as I LISTEN in prayer asking, “Is there anything you want me to say to me today?” Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Put the big rocks in first.” For Jesus, it was the Rock of Ages. But how?
If you can’t pause early in the morning before leaving home, use your commute, lunch break, smoke break, or Facebook time. Listen to Scripture on your phone, pray while you drive, memorize God’s word during breaks. Our typical first reaction is that we have no time, but try redeeming these minutes and hours by converting them into sacred moments.
Minister in the Marketplace. Jesus spoke at Sabbath assemblies, but can you imagine what we’d have missed if he had ONLY ministered at the synagogue! Instead, he taught by the lake, on the mountain, from the center of a controversy, traveling, in homes, at dinner, at parties, and even dying. Life was his podium.
I think that non-ministers have MORE opportunities to minister than paid ministers. Preachers must lock themselves away to study and write for hours a week. Working-men are in the fray of the day and in the mix of people and things. They take orders, manage people, hear complaints, communicate information, deal with trouble and disappointment, and find solutions. Working man, the marketplace IS your sanctuary. It’s where you proclaim (in words and deeds) the life of Christ to those around. How you live, take on problems, and treat people is a sermon to the audience God places around you every day. Preachers have nothing on you! You are the frontline. If you are being Christ in your workplace, you are doing ALL you should be doing. Don’t be burdened by the notion that only ministry with or at the church is ministry. It just isn’t so!
Accept your Acceptance. John records that Jesus knew where he’d come from and where he was going – very comfortable in his own skin. Early in John’s Gospel (2:24), it becomes clear that Jesus didn’t need anyone’s encouragement and took no one’s discouragement — he was undaunted by the opinions or thoughts of others. Listen to his own words, “I and the Father are one;” “I know my Father;” “My Father knows me.” Because he knew who he was, though he faced enormous demands and difficulties, he was never overwhelmed. On the two occasions when he faced the greatest challenges (the desert and the garden), he did not sway or give way. How?
I believe knowing that he was loved and accepted gave Jesus the strength to deal with life’s challenges. His father spoke that power to him, “This is my son. I love him. I’m very pleased with him.” Those words carry all a man needs to survive and thrive. Fathers should speak this power into their sons, but if yours did not, know that Jesus’ Father speaks them to you. Knowing who we are, that we are loved, that we measure up is power in a man’s inner-most being like steel in concrete.
In summary, we are human, we can’t do all we want, or all others want us to do, but we DO have the time to do all we should.
- You can’t squeeze two hours out of one. You can’t do everything, but we can choose to do the right things. You can do the first things first.
- Life happens outside of the sanctuary. The interactions of everyday life are God’s prescribed pulpits and you are his chosen minister in those cathedrals. You can be the message of Christ everywhere you are and in everything you do.
- You can stand firm, even when life is overwhelming. Knowing whose you are, you are loved, and you are valued are the three-legged stand on which you can step and live above your circumstances.
At the close of our day, you’ll find you’ve had the time to do ALL you should have done.