Diagnosis 1: Pride
A to-do list . . . A daily assignment sheet . . . A smart phone calendar reminder . . . Notes on a dry erase marker board . . . Task management software . . . Do we resort to using one of these methods to remind ourselves of everything we must get done? Why do we even need a reminder? Do we really have that much to do? Some of us even feel good when we add something to our to-do list. We may feel that the number of things to be done each day will impress our employer with how essential we are to the company or they might impress a college admissions administrator or our friends with how important we are. Jesus didn’t need to be reminded of what He should do each day and He didn’t need to impress anyone. If we follow His example, we won’t need to, either. Christ chose to fill His to-do list with tasks of humbly serving those who needed Him. He didn’t need anyone to think He was important with what He did or how much He did. In Philippians 2:7 we find that “He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.” As we think of those things we need to do, let’s instead focus on those things God would have us do. Having a to-do list is not a bad thing when the items on it center around Him and His purpose for our lives.
Diagnosis 2: Too Great Expectations
Some of the world’s greatest, most fearless athletes could never hit a 400—foot home run, throw a 60—yard touchdown pass or block a dunk attempt by LeBron James. What they can do is excel on the balance beam. Gymnasts would be completely out of place on the baseball or football field and overpowered by an NBA player. On a four—inch wide wooden beam, they are magnificent. Many things happen on the beam: flips, jumps, spins. Whatever the move, the key to success is balance. Yes, a gymnast has to be flexible and strong, both physically and mentally. But balance is vital. Still, even the greatest gymnast will sometimes fall. Acrobatic moves take them to the very edge of, and even beyond, their abilities. That’s all right as long as they fall on the beam and not while trying to be LeBron James. LeBron was made to play basketball and you will never see him try to do a back flip on a balance beam. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful. 1 Corinthians 12:7 (MSG) No one was created to do everything. A balanced, productive life involves doing what God has given you to do, doing it well, and letting people see who God is. That’s how you can live a wonderful life and be part of a wonderful church.
Diagnosis 3: Tangents
NO can be a tough thing to hear and a hard word to say. We all want to be supportive and helpful. Telling someone NO when they need something or our help…well, it just doesn’t seem right. But NO has a positive side. We all have gifts and want to share because this allows us to do all we can. But, if we take on too many things, spread our gifts and time too thin, we can quickly be in a place where we are of little help to anyone. We lose focus. And coming to the rescue—prioritization! Finding there is not time enough to get it all done? Determine what is most important, set Priorities and get ready for it. Then tell some of those with requests and needs, NO, you just cannot help. Okay, don’t use the capital N-O, be polite and maybe even take a moment to explain your limitations. Explain the need for focus. Even Christ found that NO sometimes was the answer. We learn this from Mark 1:35-39 (NIV): “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.” Being focused keeps us on mission, just as it did for Jesus.
Diagnosis 4: Work
Taking time to be alone to recharge our body and our mind is a biblical principle. God included it in the Ten Commandments. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work.” God knows us. He knows us so well because he fashioned and made us in His image. God directed that we take time out on a regular basis to stop pursuing our vocation and all the busyness in our lives. Many of us probably wonder if this commandment really applies to our lives today. After all, we have problems, pressures and responsibilities that seem greater than at any other time in history. We’ve got to be problem solvers and doers constantly it seems. But it is exactly because of those things that we need times of solitude and rest. God is concerned about our well-being. He is concerned about our relationship with Him. He knows that we need to take time outs and get away from all of the things that dominate our lives on a regular basis. When we don’t take time to be by ourselves and to rest, we become worn down, less productive and we put ourselves in danger of falling out of our relationship with God. But when we do take the time to practice solitude and rest, we have the opportunity to build our faith and our relationship with God, as well as to take care of our bodies both physically and mentally.
Diagnosis 5: Parenting
Many of us are activity focused and experience driven. We are crazy busy and on the go. At the same time we are relationally poor, especially within our own families. Too often we cater and contribute to our kids’ entertainment and education but not so much to their eternity. We must reverse this by becoming relationship focused and driven. Our families need each other. Husbands need their wives; wives need their husbands; and children need their parent’s attention, affection and love. They need time and they need us! In Proverbs 22:6, King Solomon says: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Some of us have mistakenly taken this as a guarantee that if a child is taught the truths of God when they are young, they will return to God even if they stray. As much as we would like that to be true and as much as we may have seen it to be true on occasion, it is sadly not always true. Sometimes children and people drift away so far that they have lost the desire to return. It happens with parents and their children, with other family members and even with spouses. Parents, our role is never ending. There are different seasons of parenting and we will always have a role. We cannot let the crazy busyness of life interfere with our responsibility not only to train up our children in the way they need to go, but to always encourage them to stay on the path that leads to God for their entire life.
Diagnosis 6: Life is Busy
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, a children’s book by Judith Viorst, is about a boy named Alexander who is not having a good day. Bad things happen to him all day long! Things such as bubble gum in his hair, having to sit in the middle of the back seat, getting no dessert at lunch, being made to wear railroad pajamas and probably worst of all, kissing on T.V.! He’s mad, he’s upset and he’s miserable. Life is hard, bad things happen and like Alexander, we become exhausted and worn down from the daily grind. God tells us we will be challenged by life, a fact with which most of us are all too familiar. God allows bad things to happen, even though we might not understand His reasons. If we are focused on God, He will make us strong and see us through. God is IT. He is all we need. He is the beginning and the end. God is everything. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Above all, God is good, just, loving and merciful. When bad things happen to us that we don’t understand, instead of doubting God’s goodness, we must trust Him. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)