i don’t want to go through the motions

Category : Jesus, Matthew, fear, living a life of faith, taking action, trust

……….

I admit it.  The last few weeks have been a bit up and down on R3.  I haven’t been able to post the usual three times a week.  It seems events have been conspiring against me.  At first I was sick.  Then I realized it was NaNoWriMo.  (That’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you scoring at home.)  And after writing about 20,000 words of a book, I had to put virtually everything on hold because, my friends, I have some good news to share.  I was offered a job on Monday and accepted.

That means after all this time I will finally be employed.

If you’ve been following R3 for any length of time you know that this last year has been hard.  I’ve been unemployed since the first of the year.  And that takes a toll on you.  More than just financially though. You can easily begin to doubt yourself.  And at times I really questioned where I was going.  Unemployment can also shake your faith.  There were times when I really wondered if I was really following God or just going off on my own tangents.  It also can impact your relationships.  It’s hard to be loving and engaged when you wonder where you will get enough money to pay the bills.  It’s also hard to stay active with your friends when they want to go do something that costs money and you don’t have the funds for that.

Looking back on the year I realize just how much I have learned and just how much I’ve grown.  I don’t even feel like the same person anymore.  And none of that would have been possible without trusting God and quitting my job.  The ironic thing is, that despite all the pain this year has caused, it’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything.  In fact, it’s probably one of the best years I’ve ever had.

You see I don’t want to go through the motions.  I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder, “did I really give everything?”  I don’t want to just be that guy who punches the clock and that’s it.  I want my life to make a difference.  I want to advance the Kingdom in powerful ways, or at least in whatever ways I can.

Jesus once told the parable of the talents.  In it he described three men who were each given talents (which was a sum of money equivalent to about 3 months of wages).  Two of the men doubled what they had been given.  But the last man didn’t do anything with his talent.  He was afraid and therefore didn’t act.

When the master of the three men returned he demanded an account of how they had used the money.  The first two were rewarded greatly, and the last man was punished.  Not because he lost the money.  But because he didn’t do anything with his talent!

That terrifies me.

I would rather lead a life of adventure, and chaos, and unpredictability than live a safe, comfortable life that wasn’t about pursuing God.  I knew that I had a choice to make about my job.  Stay there and be comfortable, but do nothing with my “talent.”  Or be willing to trust God so much that I would walk into a completely unpredictable world.

I chose to act.

I don’t always choose to act.  And I’m not saying everyone should quit their job.  But I don’t want to look back some day and think, “why did I waste my talent?”

This is why the Matthew West song “The Motions” has become a theme song of sorts.

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking,
“What if I had given everything,
Instead of going through the motions?”

That’s how I want to live.  How about you?  Are you going through the motions?

time management, unemployment, and God

1

Category : God, R3, faith, living a life of faith, taking action

……….

The irony of unemployment is that I haven’t been this busy since I was in college.

A few months ago I wrote an article about 5 things to do while unemployed.  One of the things to do while unemployed was volunteering.  Now I’m not one to simply write about what you should do and not live out that principle.  In fact, the whole point of R3 is to learn what it means to live out a life of faith.  That’s why I find R3 to both be incredibly fulfilling and challenging all at the same time.  While I’m not perfect I find writing publicly what I believe really forces me to follow through with my actions.

And volunteering is one area I’ve thrown myself into full force.

The challenge I’m facing right now is time management.  The stuff I do involving R3 takes up quite a bit of time.  There are the three weekly updates.  I am also working on the finishing touches to R3’s first community guide.  Plus there are a ton of  side things I do with R3 like research, reading blogs, and twittering.  (Yes, yes, I know, I’m not very good at twittering.)

On top of that I am looking for a job, creating content for another website called Meaning to Work, balancing two small groups, four serving ministries, and all the different friends I have made through all of those activities!

To put it simply there is a lot going on.  And much of it is volunteer related.

But I am not alone.  Most Americans live lives with this much activity.  Little Johnny has soccer practice, Little Suzy has piano lessons.  Mom has a meeting and Dad has softball.  Sound familiar?  As a people we tend to be overwhelmed by obligations, activities, and responsibilities.  This time pressure has made us sensitive to “wasted time.”

What does this busyness do for our relationship with God?

A lot of times you’ll hear that it’s bad to be busy.  And it can be.  If you’re so focused in moving from one meeting to the next you’ll never live with enough urgency to have time to act when needed.  But I think sometimes busyness gets a bad rap.  There are good things that come with busyness.  Busy people really are more likely to accomplish things.  It’s easier to keep your momentum going forward, than it is to find momentum if you’re not doing anything.  When you are on a schedule you’re more likely to use your time productively – however you define that.

It’s not as if slowing down somehow makes us less lazy.  I can’t be the only one who when they don’t have much going on gravitates toward the TV than an interesting book.

But when I’m busy I know I have to choose between a book and TV.  There is no “I’ll get to it later” because I don’t have the time for that.  So I stay focused.

Time management is like so many things – it can be good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.  What matters is where we put our time in relationship to God.  Are we pursuing things that honor him?  Are we pursuing things that build into our relationship with him?  If we are, then even if we are busy that is a good thing.  But the minute we become too busy for God, then there’s a problem.

So as so many people struggle with unemployement, don’t let this be an excuse to do nothing.  Go out and volunteer.  Get engaged in your communities.  But don’t let this become an excuse to become so busy you forget about God.