Thursday, December 4, 2014

Can We Ever Do Too Much For God?

Can we really ever do too much? During the last three-and-a-half years that I have been pursuing pulpit ministry while still employed in my primary vocation I have struggled with time-management issues as a part-time local pastor. This situation is further aggravated by my long commutes - almost 1000 miles a week during spring and fall semesters. I managed to maintain both vocations until my primary job required me to begin working an extra day a week. This could not have happened at a worse time as I was in the middle of the fall semester, was preparing for charge conference, and was committed to work on a Men's Walk to Emmaus.

Ironically, I was enrolled in the Pastoral Care and Spiritual Formation class that semester which had a component for self-care of the pastor. The more I delved into the assigned reading the more I became convinced that I was completely upside-down in my time available for self-care and something in my life had to give. I left work and my churches behind on the weekend of the Walk with the specific intent of discerning God's will for my situation in those three days. This proved to be a flawed plan…

As with every other aspect of my life, that weekend really wasn't about me - it was about putting my best foot forward in service to others as a disciple of Christ. But during breaks I was a solitary figure on the prayer trail outside the conference room seeking the Lord's guidance for my issue. I was also trying to maintain the schedule of assigned reading for my class. The conventional wisdom I found in what I read proved to negate any effort to discern God's will for my life and only served to heighten the anxiety about my situation. I left the retreat center that weekend committed to leave pulpit ministry in order afford some time to myself since I couldn't afford to quit my secular job.

I met with my district superintendent two weeks later and asked to be discontinued as a pastor. She expressed remorse over my request and shared her call story. Then she asked to hear mine and afterward suggested that I reconsider my request and engage in prayer and fasting to truly discern God's will for my life. I took her advice and now, six weeks later, find myself still burning the candle at both ends while trying to cover all the bases with lots of miles in between. But I have a sense peace amid the chaos of what my life might look like to others (and oftentimes to myself!) and have found joy in the knowledge that God has something better in store for me if I can just wait for His timing.

Can we really ever do too much? No; we can never out-give God with our time or our gifts. However, if that which consumes us is borne of a worldly, human agenda we are most certainly destined for burnout. All the conventional wisdom expounded in my required reading this semester applies to this scenario. But if we ascribe to the Divine agenda, apart from this world, we have no need to be concerned or wrought about any aspect of our life - God's got this (Matthew 6:24-34). Indeed, is there anything He doesn't have absolute power over?

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