I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately, and how to make certain we accomplish all we can for Christ during our time here on earth. So many things beg for our time and attention that it is all too easy to become distracted and pulled off mission. Harder still to remain focused if we have never defined our purpose and goals. I encourage everyone to develop a mission statement as well as some life goals for themselves.
Chinese philosopher Lin Yutang said, “Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.” Which begs the question, of what do we need to let go to better serve Christ? What are those things that need to be put aside?
In our modern culture we tend to fill our lives with so much. We have family commitments, work commitments and personal commitments. It can be hard to find a moment of peace. Television, radio, cell phones, the internet (you are reading this online after all!!); so much calls out and begs for our focus and attention. Entire industries have arisen with the single goal of capturing our attention. Of course everything looks appealing and it seems like such a good idea at the time. Suddenly we have overfilled our capacity and overbooked our schedules. More often than not it is Christ that is the first thing to get squeezed out. We need to let something go.
Being full of Christ means there is no room for any of this other stuff we may have in our life. It seems we’ve gotten it backwards. Our lives are so full that we’ve run out of room for Christ. I think Satan smiles when He sees this. He barely had to lift a finger to get our eyes off of Jesus. He simply had to tempt us with the modern day fruit from the tree of what society has defined as “life”. We have not only taken a bite, but we have made a feast from this tree. We grab all we can and eat until we are full. But where is our first love? Where is the One who saved us from a life of pointlessness and despair? He has become the forgotten Man.
We need to go on a diet. Like all diets, the best ones are those that make slow but steady progress. Sure, simply casting off all the trappings of modern society all at once may work for awhile, and it may even work permanently for a few. But by and large, experience and research has shown that lasting results comes from slow but steady changes. We need to make the shift to being full of Christ and empty of everything else. We need to be so full of love that it overflows and permeates everything we do. There is no room for anything other than this in a life fully devoted to Christ. There is no half way to living a full life; being full is all or nothing.
So what are you full of today? Is it Christ and His love or is it the pleasures and accomplishments of our culture and society? What do you need to let go today? Write a list of everything in your life that is not contributing to the goal of being completely filled by the love of Christ. Take the time to get it all down on paper. Now look at your list and pick one item that you will begin eradicating from your life this week; write down a plan for how you will let it go, then execute that plan. Once this particular item is out of your life, move to the next one on the list and do the same with it.
We all want to live a full life. The only question is with what will we fill it? Will it be with self-importance, achievement, popularity, the glitz of Madison Avenue? Or will it be with the love, humility and gentleness of the love of Jesus Christ? What will ultimately matter when all is said and done? What is keeping us from being truly full of Christ today? It’s time to let it go.
I read another great Denis Waitley quote this week: “We spend too much energy worrying about the things we want to do but can’t, instead of concentrating on doing things we can do but don’t.” Are you so busy waiting to do something huge for Christ that you miss the little things you could be doing each day? Do you get frustrated when looking at the accomplishments of other Christians as compared to how you perceive your own effectiveness? It’s time we reevaluate our purpose and start seizing the opportunities that are all around us.
Fretting over the things we want to do but can’t wastes time in two ways. First, any time spent worrying is of absolutely no avail. Nothing about a situation changes when we worry; the only change that may occur is a negative change in your health. Worrying causes stress, and stress is a silent destroyer of health. Second, the time we spend thinking of those things we can’t do steals time from those things we could and should be doing. The energy given to worrying about things we can’t do simply masks the common malady of procrastination. We have no idea how much time we have left on this earth, but I guarantee you that none of us has enough time to procrastinate for even a moment. Time is ticking away from each of us and we have limited time to accomplish all that we can.
There are so many things we could be doing but we don’t. Why? One reason is a fear of failure. We know we are capable of doing something, but what if we fail? What if someone laughs at us? Do we really want to face the One we call Lord and tell Him we would have done so much more for Him but we were afraid someone would laugh at us? One way to overcome the fear of doing something is by imagining yourself before God when He asks what you did for Him. Will we be able to recite a list of actions we took? Will we be able to tell Him of how we stared down our reluctance, abandoned our fear of embarrassment and just went for it? How much better would this feel than having to hang our heads in shame over caring more about what someone else thought than what Christ would think?
Another reason we don’t seize every opportunity is because we are afraid we actually might succeed. If we are successful, that is going to mean more responsibility, more time out of our schedule, more weight on our shoulders. God will not give us more than we are able to handle, and He will help us carry any responsibility. In fact, He’ll make what we’re carrying seem light as a feather. The joy we feel from doing things for Christ will far outlast any burdens we may have to bear.
What are you not doing that you should be doing? What are you afraid of? Stop wasting time thinking of what you want to be doing and instead refocus that energy into things you can be doing. Make a list of three things you can do for Christ this week… write it down! Additionally, write down something you’ve not done simply because of your fear. Now write down one step you will take this week to begin facing that fear, one step that will move you toward accomplishing that task. When we focus our energy on those things we can be doing, we will find less and less time available to worry about those things we can’t.
Let’s change. Let’s do it now. When we wake up tomorrow, let’s determine to stop wasting our time and effort and start living the life we desire to live. Let’s stop seeking to serve ourselves and instead serve the one who gave His life for ours. Let’s determine to fight every temptation and to embrace every opportunity to love and live in the manner Christ demonstrated for us.
To lead the life we desire requires balance. Satan loves to use our weaknesses to knock us off course. We need to identify those weaknesses and develop a plan to strengthen those areas of our life. Some have problems staying focused when they’re tired, others when they’re hungry and others when they lack energy due to their physical conditioning. If any of these apply to you, or whatever your weak spot might be, it is a simple choice to correct the problem. Determine to go to bed at a time that will give you 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night. Eat regular small, healthy meals. Start walking 30 minutes per day. As we start to feel in control of our lives, we will see more success in our spiritual life.
All of God’s creation demonstrates balance, and we are certainly no exception. Once we have achieved balance we can fully and confidently focus on living a life modeled after Christ. So where do you struggle? Right now, write down your main area of weakness; if you have multiple areas of weakness, let’s tackle them one at a time. Now that you’ve identified your weakness, the next step is to write out an action plan to overcome with that weakness. Be specific; set milestones and goals to measure your progress. Finally, execute the plan. Each day you should review your plan and stick with it. Remember, the whole goal of doing this is to lead a more effective life for Christ. The wonderful side effect is that as we achieve better and better balance, we will find ourselves living measurably happier lives, lives pleasing to God!
How about you? Are you willing to do what it takes to get your life in balance and start on the path of more closely following Christ? We honor Him by restoring balance to our lives. As our balance improves we will find a richer life waiting for us. We will find more time to study His word, more time to love others and more time to bask in His peace. It’s all about focus, and focus is the result of balance. If you find yourself not living a life focused on Christ, check your balance. Make corrections where necessary, and do it today.
Have you ever thought about the question, “How committed are you”? We want to devote ourselves to a task, a goal, a dream and ultimately to serving Christ. We say we are committed to doing so. How do we measure that commitment? How do we move it from an “it would be nice to be this way” to a “this is who I am”?
I submit that commitment is much like integrity; there are no degrees of either. Just as a person either has integrity or doesn’t, a person is either committed or they aren’t; you can’t be partially committed. To commit to something is to do it; to be committed to a cause is to throw your all into it. You can’t be committed to run ten miles and quit at five. That’s not commitment! Marriage is a commitment. For those who are married, what if we treated that relationship with the same “amount” of commitment that we give to other areas of our lives? You see there’s no such thing as an “amount” of commitment. Committing to something is to give your all, not your part. It is closely intertwined with integrity in that what you say you will do, you do.
Now certainly if we commit to something that later proves to be a mistake, we should drop that commitment. So if commitment means to always see it through, but it’s okay to abandon commitment when we’ve made a mistake, how do we know when it’s okay to not follow through? That decision has to be guided by our overarching value system. Does it align with the Kingdom mission of Christ, or worse yet, does it oppose that mission? Let that always be your guiding principle. Now the best idea would be to check your value system before ever making a commitment. A commitment is a solemn vow; Jesus said to let our “yes be yes”. Again this is the integrity issue. If we are going to commit to something, we should be fully prepared and willing to see that commitment through to completion. This principle will allow us to live a life according to the principles taught by Jesus.
How is your commitment to Christ? Are you committed to following Him or are you just providing lip service? If we claim to be committed and do not follow Him with all that we are, then we are liars and lack integrity. To be seen as a liar and to lack integrity in our day to day lives is bad enough, but is that how we present ourselves to our Lord? There is no such thing as being partially committed to Christ. If we are to be committed we must throw ourselves into walking in His ways, and do so with true reckless abandon. If we are committed to Christ, we must love everyone at all times; we must actively seek to help others, to show kindness in everything we do. Failing does not disqualify our commitment; we often fail as we endeavor to fulfill commitments. With each failure, we must quickly repent, dust ourselves off, get up and be about our committed purpose again.
Commit today to follow Christ. Live your commitment by loving others, caring for their needs and giving all you have to pursue the mission of the Kingdom. There is no half-way, no partial commitment if you should choose to follow Christ. He demands it all; are we ready to commit to that demand?