Brothers and Sisters,
This week marks the start of a new year. Our mailboxes and inboxes will be temporarily full of invitations and promises surrounding the theme of new year’s resolutions. But what could really make a new you? Read on if you are interested…
Last semester in Disciplemakers 3 participants each read a short book and presented a reflection paper to the group. Many found this exercise to be remarkably helpful. One of the class members, Brian Jacobson (aka Jacob), wrote on Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. Brian’s honesty was refreshing and his summary convicting. I can’t encourage you strongly enough to prayerfully consider his conclusion as we launch a new year as a church family. Here’s Brian’s excellent paper which diagnoses the heart of our chaotic living:
In the past 18 months, I’ve traveled over 160,000 miles, circumnavigating the globe more than 6 times, spent 100 nights in hotel rooms and ate more breakfast buffet scrambled eggs than any man should eat in a lifetime. If you ask me if I’m busy, I can rattle off the 15 things on my to do list, but if you ask me if I could help with something, I’ll sigh (loud enough to ensure you heard me) and oblige. I’ve always seen worldly success in my busyness, good grades in school, countless awards and accolades both in college and in the workplace, and constant praise from bosses, spiritual leaders, family, and friends. Being busy and never saying no was something that I thought was me being a servant, but what I realized by reading this book was that it was actually a pride issue, and an issue that prevented me from spending time devoted to sitting at the feet of Jesus, instead making the excuse that I was praying continually throughout the day.
That is the single biggest takeaway that I picked up from DeYoung’s Book Crazy Busy & is best exampled in the story of Mary & Martha in Luke 10. Martha is focused on good things, but those good things are pulling her away from what is better. While Mary is able to understand the chief importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet to learn & worship, Martha is distracted from the best thing of Jesus by the good things of hospitality & service. Similarly to Martha, I’m continually distracted from the best thing of Jesus by the good things of wanting to provide for my family, wanting to give my all in my workplace, wanting to serve wherever possible. While none of those on their own are bad things, the fact that they get in the way of the ultimate thing makes them bad things. My priority, my first fruits, should be a desire to sit at the feet of Jesus, and that should be evident to my family, my friends, my co-workers, and anyone I interact with. Instead, I’m a chameleon; different groups of people see my priorities differently based on their interactions with me.
Now that I’m aware of the disconnect between my desire & my actions, it should be easy to realign my priorities, right? If only it were that easy. One encouragement I received from DeYoung about this heart realignment was a phrase that he borrowed from Charles Duhigg, “keystone habit”. A keystone habit is a single thing that you can focus on and control, and as a result, the other silos in your life will begin to align to ensure that the keystone habit is successful, resulting in success in those silos as well as in the keystone habit. The keystone habit I’m going to focus on is to spend solitary time in the Word and in prayer every morning before I do anything else. Because of that, I’ll have to go to bed earlier, and since I need to go to bed earlier, might not spend that 30 minutes browsing the internet on my phone before bed, might not start reading work e-mails before my feet touch the ground in the morning, and since I’m not checking work e-mails before work, I’ll feel less of an expectation to respond at all hours, and my phone just might get put away when I get home instead of being always in front of me, allowing my home time to be home time & my work time to be work time, making myself more effective in both of them.
That list, while again all good things, ignores the spiritual change that can come from starting each day focused on eternity & the repentant, evangelistic heart that is born out of the daily bread that is the wisdom of the Word. The reason I’m capable of succeeding at this is not my own power or ability, I’m able to rest in him because he already did the work set before us. I’m able to lay down my pride in busyness because he laid down his life. I can come to him in the middle of failures because I know his promises are true and that he will keep them.
My pride prevented me from fully understanding these points, and I found myself actively fighting the points that DeYoung was making in the book, saying they didn’t apply to me because I’m better at time management than he is, or that my addiction to technology was justified because of my career, when in reality, those were just strongholds that I wasn’t willing to give up because I was focused on what I thought was good instead of what I knew was best. By realigning my gaze to the cross, I believe that these things will fall away as I realize how futile they are when looked at with a kingdom mindset. While I don’t see myself as ever not being busy, especially once Brittney & I have kids, I believe that busyness with a heart fixated on the cross & time for rest & recovery is best and is what Jesus modeled in his ministry here on earth.
Thankful God Transforms Us,
PS – If you are interested in a commitment to daily prayer and Bible reading make sure to pick up a prayer/reading plan card in the auditorium lobby this Sunday.