Monday, September 12, 2011

Bigger Isn't Always Better

I have had a pretty significant number of conversations lately with all different kinds of people at various stages of life who are expressing some form of the concern, "What if I'm not doing enough?" For some, the concern is born from being so busy with "normal life" that they don't have time to do the long list of other things (by which many of them mean "bigger things") that they think they *should* be doing. This can be due to job demands, small children at home needing attention, personal responsibilities that require daily time-intensive disciplines, etc., etc., etc. The circumstantial reasons for this kind of concern vary greatly, but I believe the underlying issues are quite similar.

And now I have to make a quick disclaimer since this could go in at least a couple different directions from here. The disclaimer is that the people I'm referencing here believe that they're walking in obedience in the "small" tasks they're doing. They believe that God has indeed called them to these tasks and that they are doing them to the best of their ability. And while I certainly can't see into their hearts or minds, I have no reason to doubt any of them based on what I know of the way they live and serve. So. The purpose of *this* post is to address those who are walking in obedience in the "small" tasks God has given them, but they are frustrated that they don't have the time/energy/resources to do "bigger" things. If there are those who are walking in disobedience and are experiencing similar frustrations, that is an entirely different discussion.

OK. Back on topic. :-D My advice to those who continue to doubt themselves in this way is this-- Cut it out. Seriously. Just quit it. There's absolutely no reason for it. And here's why I think that's good advice:

1. God didn't call everyone to be Billy Graham. He called some people to be the ones who invested in Billy Graham tirelessly and patiently and consistently so that he could become the man who would reach hundreds of thousands of people for Christ. We don't know the names of all of those people, because most of them are just "regular" people like you and me. Behind the scenes. Doing the laundry and washing the dishes and hopefully praying our hearts out for the Billy's in our lives. But can we all agree that without them Billy Graham might never have become Billy Graham? They are not less important. They are only less visible.

2. Someone much smarter than me once said, "If you say yes to everyone, you're lying to at least half of them." OH SNAP! I think that's probably true. Many times it is easier (initially) to say yes to everything rather than risk someone getting upset if you have to tell them no. The problem with this response is that we are limited creatures with only so much time and energy. And while I can't say with certainty that God doesn't call *anyone* to ongoing, tireless work, I am confident enough to say that *if* He ever does that, He does it to very few. For most of us, not only does He not expect constant "busy-ness," He in fact demands the opposite by giving us the commandment to Sabbath. In other words, it's ok to say no sometimes. Even if the only reason for doing so is because you need rest. (Now remember this is being addressed to those walking in obedience. I'm not encouraging laziness. Just sayin'. . .)

3. At the risk of sounding like a cheesy 80's CCM song, you may be "the only Jesus" some will ever see on this earth. And God may have placed you in their lives for that very reason, with the idea that you might love them and disciple them and "be Jesus" to them in a very real and present and constant way. If you have 10 or 12 people you're doing this for, it's probably pretty manageable. But if for some reason you decide that isn't enough and go out looking for 10 more and then 10 more and then 10 more. . . Well. Can you really be present with that many people regularly enough to have much impact? I would say probably not. Here's the analogy I used last week related to this: Let's suppose you have a bottle of medication that can absolutely save someone's life with just one dose. There are 12 doses in the bottle. Do you give one dose to each of 12 people and save their lives? Or do you dilute it down and give a completely ineffective dose to 112 people? The point is that unless God is orchestrating an "expanded territory" for you and providing the additional "medication" to reach the additional people, there is no reason whatsoever for you to feel guilty that your territory is small and therefore run yourself ragged trying to increase it. In fact, the more accurate assessment is that by keeping a small circle of influence, you are much more available to protect and serve and love more effectively those within that circle.

4. It's entirely possible (and maybe even probable) that God isn't telling you "No" on whatever bigger things you think you should be doing. Maybe He's just saying, "Wait." Don't force something that you aren't ready for if God hasn't given you explicit instructions to do so. Wait. For a different season of life maybe. For support to arrive 6 months from now that you had no idea was on the way. For a wide open door just to the left of the (wrong) one you keep trying to pry open. Now again I feel like I need a disclaimer. I'm not saying that the path will always be super easy and slick and glossy. You might face a few doors you DO have to pry open or a few challenges you'll have to deal with with very little support. HOWEVER, I believe that God speaks very clearly (though not necessarily and probably rarely audibly) about such things, and I truly believe that you will KNOW when He is calling you to something bigger than yourself. If He isn't. . . that is, if you are chasing something only because you have some kind of self-imposed guilt over it, that is the wrong reason to pursue.

So. I don't know if that is helpful to anyone or not, but these are the conversations I'm having with my little circle, so I thought they might be helpful to a few others too. ;-)

In short, I guess I would say-- Pray about it. Pursue every single thing that you truly believe comes from God, and ignore every single thing that you believe comes from your own sense of guilt. It's ok to stay small and simple. The people in your little circle will likely be glad you did.

1 comment:

Jen said...

A good word, Becky.