One of the most challenging aspects of intentionally developing our faith is learning to choose how we spend our time. Our time is a precious commodity, and in many ways is the most valuable resource that we have at our disposal. Busyness is a struggle for many of us who are committed to the church. There is always another ministry, another Bible study, or committee meeting that needs to be attended on top of our already overbooked schedules. Unfortunately, all of that busyness can keep us from doing the things that will help us grow in our faith.
Things that fill our schedules are often very good things. We work, spend time with our families, go to worship, participate in ministry, do chores around the house, take time for recreation, take the kids to the zoo, and the list goes on and on. All of these things are great things. However, I believe that the curse of the busy is the commitment to too many good things. People don’t steward their time well, not because of too many bad or inappropriate ways to spend their time, but because they have far too many good things to choose from. When that happens, others things suffer. When our schedules are crammed full, it becomes difficult to maintain the practices needed for spiritual formation like worship, prayer, service, Bible study, and others because there are so many other great things to do.
What I advise people to do who are struggling with this issue is to learn how to discern the best things over the good or great things. We only have so much time in our daily schedule and we need to make sure that we steward that time well. It isn’t always easy to do that because we have so many great things to spend our time on. With that in mind, here are some recommendations to help you think through if you are focusing on good things or the best things.
- Is there space in your day that Jesus gets your full and undivided attention? I know this seems obvious, but is it really? If we are truly honest with ourselves, are we giving Jesus our undivided attention somewhere in our day when we are focusing on nothing else? If not, you ‘re not focusing on the best things.
- Is there ample space in your week for family and friends? Again, this seems obvious. However, I am talking about more than a few minutes of chatting between car trips to practice. Are you intentionally making time for your spouse, your kids, or your friends and neighbors to ask them about life and to help with some soul care? If not, then you are not focusing on the best things?
- Are you gathering with other Christians? This is a must if you want to grow in your faith. God commands it in a variety of different ways. We are expected to use our spiritual gifts for the benefit of others, we are to love one another, bear the burdens of others, pray for one another, encourage one another toward good works, and so on. You can’t do any of things alone. We must not forsake the gathering of believers. If you are, you aren’t focused on the best things.
- Are you serving others? If your schedule doesn’t provide you space to minister to others than you are neglecting to do the best over the good. I don’t think I need to make an argument that we are created for good works…at least I hope not. This can look very different for each of us because of context, resources, and gifting. The point isn’t necessarily what we do. The point is, are we serving others in some capacity. If we are not, then our priorities are out of whack.
- Are you Praying? If prayer isn’t a high priority in your life, then you are not focusing on the best things. Prayer is a vital part of our faith for a variety of reasons. It needs to be a central component. We need to pray for others, to pray for ourselves, to pray for our neighbors and leaders. We should pray alone and we should pray with others whenever we have a chance. Prayer changes things. Specifically, prayer changes us. It reminds us that while much of life is out of our control, God is in control and we can trust Him.
- Are you practicing Sabbath? We need rest and we need to trust God. If you aren’t building rest into your schedule you are denying a fundamental principle of faithfulness that God has put before us. Our lack of intentional rest is often a commentary about our relationship with God. When we refuse to rest appropriately, we are saying that our agenda is more important than His. It conveys a lack of trust on our part. Failure to rest is the failure to believe that God is in control. It assumes that the world will come crashing down around us if we don’t accomplish every task set before us. We need Sabbath. If we ignore it, then we aren’t focusing on the best things.
This is not an exhaustive list nor is this a magic formula for getting things right. This is simply a tool to help you evaluate whether or not your schedule full of good things is keeping you from doing the best things.