I don’t know about you, but my 2017 has gotten off to a hectic start. I blinked and February is almost halfway over, and don’t even ask me about what happened to January. (Are we sure it even existed?) Sadly, our culture has somehow equated busyness and stress with productivity. And in the church it is so easy to fall into the trap of looking busy and stressed—after all, if people see me busy and stressed, they are more likely to think, “Wow, he must be doing great work for God.”
But this could not be further from the truth. I know that when I am too busy and stressed, I lose sight of the bigger picture. I get stuck in the details, but more detrimental, I try and manufacture the results instead of earnestly seeking and waiting on God. It becomes all about me, me, me, and what I can do for God.
In the midst of this season, I have been graciously led to two resources that I help lead me back to a pace and the posture more conducive to the life I, along with my wife, want to lead and minister from.
First as a staff, we are reading and discussing Alan Fadling’s book, An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest. We just started the book, but even in the first chapter, Alan astutely describes our inner disposition when it comes to a busy, hectic schedule: “Many of us measure our faithfulness to God by how many tasks we get done for him or how many meetings we attend to plan his kingdom work” (page 10). A few pages later, he writes, “Somehow we believe that hurry will hasten the things of God” (page 15).
Second, a colleague gently pointed me to Psalm 131. I quote The Message’s translation.
God, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.
I’ve kept my feet on the ground,
I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby contents in its mother’s arms
my soul is a baby content.
Wait, Israel for God. Wait with hope.
Hope now; hope always!
The temptation for and lure of greatness, for ruling the roost, is always lurking for me and all of us in ministry. If Satan tempted Jesus with it, we can bet that he will come after us with the same temptation.
In reflecting on An Unhurried Life and Psalm 131, I have been asking myself, “Why do I want to be seen as busy? Do I want to be king of the mountain?” Busy is not bad, per se, but I must also examine myself and see if my heart’s attachment to busyness is manifested in the attitude Alan and Psalm 131 described above.
In the midst of a busy season, I need to be prayerfully finding ways to cultivate a quiet heart with the Lord, and also to patiently wait for God with fervent hope. And in doing so, I will find that the Holy Spirit keeps me grounded, and I lead from a place of strength through dependence on our Triune God.
How are you currently cultivating a quiet, patient, yet hopeful heart?