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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Working for the Weekend

We have talked a lot as a staff lately about workaholism, our health, our drive, the quest for perfection, etc. and the need to keep those things in check.

I’ve always been driven. I pray that I will continue to be driven for the sake of the kingdom.

However, I don’t buy the Little House on the Prairie line that “God helps those who help themselves.” Pa Theology never worked for me. Scripture teaches that God helps those who can’t help themselves.

Just because something “can” be done doesn’t mean “we” have to be the ones to do it or that it should be done in the first place. We can’t do it all. We shouldn’t try to do it all. Duh. I’m preaching to the choir right? Well . . . you’d think so.

This year has been a little rough with staff changes and cutbacks. To say the least. We made some bad mistakes in thinking we could do all the things we were doing with half the staff. Truth be told, we even stepped it up in the process. We were dumb. We are paying the price. But, at least God spoke in to us before it was too late and He is giving us perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, we go through seasons. In ministry there WILL be times where we need to work our butts off. It happens. Expect it. Balance is a lie. 90% of the books you have read about priorities and balance in ministry are lying. Real life has seasons. Don’t buy the balance lie. The key is to talk through the seasons and plan a way “out.” Talk about what it looks like on the other side.

I get caught up. I get swallowed. I make horrible decisions. And, I end up doing too much. Partly because I think I’m impervious to burnout. Partly because I am a driver. Partly because I find my identity in it. Yeah, I suck sometimes.

Then, there is a part of me that I know is driven because I love Jesus. I love his church. I love this particular franchise of his church. Yeah, I don’t always suck.

There was this guy named Pliny the Elder who was a Roman naval military commander, an author, and a scholar who is famous for the saying "True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read.” Great quote.

However, Pliny was a sad workaholic. The story goes he had his servants bring him food, feed him, and keep his candles lit so he wouldn’t have to stop working.

Sad thing is, if Pliny worked in the church he would most likely be applauded. He would do a lot, accomplish a lot, work himself to the bone, and few people would notice he was slowly killing himself because—we applaud hard workers.

Workaholism is the easiest sin to go unnoticed because few recognize it as sin. Rather, they pat you on the back for being “dedicated” and going the “extra mile.”

I love Scot McKnight’s discussion of sin in his book, “A Community Called Atonement.” Sin is defined as “distortion.” Workaholism is one of those things that distorts everything around it but no one ever notices the distortion until it is too late. Then comes the counseling.

Here are some questions that I have to revisit all the time. Maybe they will help you.

1. Is this still a priority or do I just want to carry it over so I can eventually cross it off my list?

2. Have circumstances changed recently that should cause me to reevaluate this goal, pass it on to someone else, or cross it off altogether?

3. Is this realistic in light of my current responsibilities? If I take it on, can I do it with excellence (notice I didn’t say perfection)?

4. If I ran this goal past my wife or my accountability people first, would they have some things to say about it?

5. Will I have to give up something in order to achieve this goal?

6. Could there be a “bigger yes” that should cause me to say “no” to this at this time?

7. Will this goal rob me of my time or money to be generous to others?

8. Have I tried this before and failed? What has changed to make me want to attempt it again?

9. Will anyone be disappointed in me for adding this goal to the list?

10. If God took a big red pen to my to-do list and dream sheet, what comments would He make in the margins?

P.S. I am going on vacation. Tomorrow. Three weeks. If I don’t answer your email or calls it is not because I don’t care. It is because I don’t care for the next three weeks. Ha. My family thanks you as well. Momma, kids, let’s fly . . .

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