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Bring Sanity to Your Daily Schedule – Part 2

March 24, 2007

If you look at your schedule and, after honest evaluation, see more U’s and C’s than M’s, a change must come if you want to bring sanity to the ever-increasing time pressures we are facing in today’s culture. But before I lay out a simple process for doing that, let’s look at what has to change inside before the external changes will work.

During one of Jesus’ teachings he makes this grand statement in Matthew 11:29-30: “29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This seems to be a study in contrasting ideas. First he instructs his disciples to take His yoke upon themselves. A yoke is a bar and chain you place on the shoulders of an ox in order to direct it while plowing. It is an instrument of work and toil. Yet, Jesus’ next statement talks about finding rest for the soul. How can the thought progression go so quickly from work to rest? The next verse supplies the key ingredient that ties it all together. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. In essence, when Jesus gives us work to do, it doesn’t feel like toil and doesn’t sap our strength. God’s calling upon a job actually keeps our energy level on an even keel rather than resulting in our demise.

Some things we do are callings from God. I am not referring to a life calling, like being a missionary or wife or President of the United States. I am referring to the daily callings where we latch upon the will of God for us that day and we do the work with the gusto that comes from his presence doing the work with us. The opposite of working from a calling is working from being driven. A driven person is fueled by a sense that what they are doing is necessary, even though there is no corresponding leading from God to keep doing it. Driven people and called people can work the same hours and produce the same amount of work, but the driven person will be exhausted and the called person will, for the most part, feel renewed.

Of course, no one besides Jesus has yet perfected a daily existence where they continue to work by calling and not by drivenness. But that is the goal.

Someone might ask “So do I need to quit all the things I’m doing that don’t have God’s call upon them?” Not necessarily. Many jobs can be transformed by submitting them to God and seeking to have adjustments made. When God transforms a task, it then becomes a calling.

Years ago, when I was foolish enough to be working 70 hour weeks, I used to dread coming home from the office. My wife had been all day with our small children and I knew she wanted an escape from talking to underage rapscallions. She wanted my time. But, by the time I came home from hours of counseling, office work and administration, not to mention my increasing work load through writing and public speaking, the last thing I wanted was to start fresh into deep, intimate conversations with her. I’m afraid that for a long while she got my emotional leftovers.

One day in my office, during a season where I began to clean up the drivenness of my work life, I opened the door to God so that He could help me evaluate everything. The first thing he put his finger on was the way I approached going home each evening. He pointed out that I felt this was a burden and an obligation and that I didn’t ask Him what He wanted me to bring home. After that, I started to approach going home as if it was my next assignment. From that moment on I became much more sensitive, creative and helpful. It also transformed that time from a burden to a blessing for both of us. Within a month I was genuinely looking forward to that first 30 minutes of time we would spend together.

If Jesus’ burden is light, and if we are not feeling rested in life, then we have to do three things to get there.

1. Look at everything you do from the perspective of being driven vs. being called.
2. Ask God to transform our tasks before we jettison the lot. The tendency that most people have when they begin this process of bringing sanity to their time is to abandon many of the commitments they have made to others simply because they did not begin as an essential element of their calling. But let us remember that there is virtue in carrying out our assignments and commitments. Kat and I have a friend who used to accept everyone’s tasks, allowing the world to dump job after job on her. She was very capable with all of it, but it would invariably overload her. Then, in order to get control again, she would get rid of every commitment she had made and start over again. It got to the point that I advised ministry leaders in our church not to ask her to do anything. We could not rely upon her. The best advice I can give is to set a time limit on how much longer you will carry forward your commitment. Then, when that season is over, you have given them sufficient notice to find a more called person for that task.
3. Remember that all of us are called to do many things. That yoke has your name upon it. For all new tasks, bring them to God and allow Him to lead you into new territory.

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