Memorial Weekend was our annual beach retreat weekend. While I heard our speaker, John Turner, say a lot of really great things, I think the one thing that stuck with me was his concept of “work boundaries”. Specifically, he pointed out that “there is a time to say yes to work and a time to say no to work. Work isn’t as important as relationships and learning about yourself and God. We all have time demands. But God gave us the example to take time off, too.” This really struck me and I’ve thought about it in the days since retreat. This thought was definitely for me, and I’ve struggled with it for a very long time. I will work myself to death to get my goals accomplished, especially if people are depending on me. Without a doubt, I let my time with God slip while working on this retreat. Ironic, isn’t it? I absolutely have a tendency to work for God so much that I neglect my time with Him. Sometimes I can let it happen with others, too, but I definitely see it most in my relationship with God.
As I reflected on this at retreat, I thought about my current state. I find it easy to say no to work I don’t like. But I have a really difficult time saying no to work that I love. I definitely feel like God is calling my heart to ministry. I love the conversations. I love the ins and outs. I thrive off of thinking about all the subjects surrounding it. But I also have to be very careful not to let God become my co-worker in ministry. I have to always let Him take the lead. I have to give my ministry to Him and see how He wants it done. I have to remember that nothing I accomplish will be as good as He can accomplish within me and through me. And I have to remember that working for Him is no where near as important as living for Him. I have to spend more time with Him than at the water cooler.
I know this will continue to be a challenge for me. In ministry, there will always be so much to do, and I’ll want to think I can handle it all. It drives me nuts to think I can’t accomplish everything. I have no idea why I think I can live outside those limitations, but it’s always something I’ve had a hard time with. And in a sick way, it’s going to be hard to let that go…
I’m really good at multi-tasking. And it’s a skill I don’t want to lose. And so I guess that is why I think I can get it all done. So, for me to think about putting down some of those responsibilities and letting a few things slide is almost unbearable. I don’t want to give it up. I don’t want to think I can’t get it all done. I don’t want to not try to get it all done – even if I know I can’t. It’s like letting this shiny little skill go that I pride myself on. It’s a gift after all! And that is really hard for me to comprehend. But I also know that relationship is number one. That is where I need to focus. I either need to let some of the other stuff wait a bit longer than I want, be more efficient, ask for help to accomplish things, or “simply” let it go. None of those comfort me. But I also know that when I let my strengths and gifts get out of control, they are my greatest weaknesses. And they make me weak because they can separate me from the Creator who gave me those gifts. And irony rears it’s ugly head again.
Anyway, that concept is what I preach to people in Emergence, yet I have such a hard time seeing it in myself. I always think I can hold on just a little longer, the light is at the end of the tunnel. I just have to work this hard for a couple of weeks and then it will be over. But it’s never over. There is always more to do. There is always a new way to be busy. I thrive in busy! I can handle it, can’t I? Ugh, I’m sick and need help. I need my Lord. I need my God. I need my…time. Time with Him.
And so the struggle continues. But Emergence is all about “where awareness meets action” so maybe I’m in my awareness phase. Maybe my action phase is right around the corner. Maybe I need to practice what I preach!