THIS SERIES: HOW TO ENTER REST
Today’s post explores the question:
DO GOOD CHRISTIANS ALWAYS SAY YES?
Modern culture measures people’s success by the busyness of their diaries. If you want to get on in the world of work you show your commitment by working long (unpaid) hours. Achievement as a parent is gauged by the number of enriching activities you arrange for your offspring. And really successful people have whizzy jobs, fit bodies, engage with a variety of hobbies and/or good causes as well as parenting the successes of tomorrow........ And the rest of the world feels guilty.
Unfortunately this culture has also permeated the Christian world. Too many Christians measure the spirituality of themselves and others by their involvement in a church programme, despairing over those who don’t pass muster: Church meetings, prayer meetings, leadership meetings; evangelistic events, action groups, study groups; children’s work, worship bands, hospitality teams and more………no wonder the way to heaven is littered with exhausted Christians.
The Bible is silent on much of the stuff we accept as required church life; instead many originally spontaneous and organic aspects of the early church have been institutionalised and laid down as demands. There is nothing wrong with the activities in themselves, the problem is the mindset which uses them as an assessment of dedication.
And there is a cost: beautiful ministries become devalued when used as the yardstick of spirituality. Numerous Christians have fallen by the wayside because they couldn’t meet the demand, and many families and relationships (including those of high-profile ministers) have been sacrificed on the altar of the too-busy Christian life. There are also health implications; Christians are not immune from the stress-related illnesses suffered by modern society, despite Jesus’ offer of rest [Matthew 11:28]. But perhaps the biggest cost is to our relationship with Him. So many of us are running on empty, getting our fix from the most recent meeting or event, but never having time to spend with the One who is at the centre of it all.
‘It’s better to burn out than fade out,’ advised one lady with leadership responsibility. My response is a resounding 'NO!' We have been called to the long haul, not the short sprint, and the Lord wants us to finish well. Marathon runners learn how to pace themselves in order to get to the finishing post. It really is ok to say no. It’s good to know your own limitations, to regulate your activities and allow time for rest and recovery.
So why do so many Christians struggle with the over-commitment which leads to burn-out?
That will be the topic for Monday’s post.
Until then, how about making a list of all your commitments, and considering how they affect your personal relationship with Jesus, your health and well-being, and the important relationships in your life?
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