Our too busy lifestyle, but first a quick update!
Well, let me catch you up on the last few months and also challenge us in an area that is all too relevant to my life.
As many of you know, I began the process of taking 18 classes in nine months to finish my degree. There have been times that I really wanted to quit. Being 42 is harder than being 22 when it comes to college and life. I have had times of great frustration with busyness (because of school and family needs) and with my lack of rest (oh how I love a good nap). But God is using this season to grow and mature both Michelle and I; as we walk through this intense time of learning, we realize that it is just a season. I made the Dean's List for the first time as a full time student; EVER! (Well, in high school I would have made this list if we had a dean's list and if I got a grade for sleeping in class.) I am in my second to last term and am working part time for The Urbancrest Resource Ministry as a warehouse hand. God is providing for our financial needs in a some really cool and really hard ways, in which one of those ways: I have been preaching at Northview Baptist in Hillsboro, OH in the middle of school, work and family; it has been incredibly busy which had made me focus even harder on my time schedule. My kids are growing and my wife is getting prettier by the day. Life is busy but I know this is the season I have been invited to by Jesus, so I am embracing this momentary busyness and learning to rest in it.
However (and you knew there was going to be a however), I see a real problem with busyness. In the past, I have been abundantly guilty of being busy and thinking that was the normal Christian life. But is this really the way the Christian life is to be lived; from ministry moment to ministry moment, becoming so busy that relationships have to be put on the back burner to accomplish more for the Kingdom? NO and WE NEED TO STOP (okay I will quit yelling for a moment). See, while catching up with my friend, we both lamented about the false ministry idol of a busy life style. One that calls pastors to be in an office for 40-50 hours a week, visit people (adding more hours), train leadership (more hours), engage their local community (more hours), get involved with other pastors and churches (more hours), and be at their members' call when life falls apart (and it does, A-LOT). This doesn't just happen to pastors, it also happens to the people they are leading and I see a cycle that is dangerously destructive. Churches demand incredible leadership time from their pastor (in most cases rightfully so) but then the pastor in turn demands incredible amounts of serving time from their people, therefore a cycle of busyness begins. I know of guys serving churches part-time that are spending more time with ministry (50-70 hours) than they are with their families; PART_TIME. Hello, what the heck are we doing to each other when we demand that we spend so much time doing ministry that we think it is normal to overwork and ignore areas that need our attention?
I was listening to a podcast about church planting the other day, in which they made this statement, "sometimes it is easier to preach about pornography in a church than it is to preach against over-working" (Hardcore Church Planting, 2016). Wow, have we become so busy that we feign at the thought of speaking against busyness? I think we do and we definitely don't like it when someone points it out, in-fact, I have heard Christians and Pastors call people lazy for not giving more time to ministry that they don't have (I was one of them). There is a huge problem and I believe this is rooted in consumerism and the lack of true biblical Christianity in the church.
First, let me share how much I love the church but I see a true lack of biblical Christianity in the church, which I believe leads to consumerism, by asking a question of reality that shouldn't be for the church. Why is the Pareto Principle happening in the church, where 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people? Here are a few points that I have found in asking this question:
- We don't integrate people with their talents and gifts but instead make them fit our paradigm
- We don't disciple and find out what people's gifts, talents and passions are
- We don't disciple and lead our people to become busy workers in the Kingdom instead of resting and abiding in Christ allowing Jesus to lead them into ministry areas
- We make serving the church the priority instead of casting Kingdom impact about being part of the church
- We reward and demand busyness in the church instead of celebrating intimate growth in Christ
- We equate busyness with spiritual growth
- We don't allow people to step back and heal when tragedy hits
- We centralize the greatness of the church on certain leaders instead of Jesus (this is a huge problem we need to repent of), in which:
- We rely on people more than we rely on Jesus Christ!