Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Balancing Act: To Be or To Do

The tight rope walker must keep his focus and balance at ever step.  When stepping forward their foot must be centered, which takes concentration to avoid surrounding distractions.  They often carry a long pole or other objects, so that they can help to shift the weight from one side to the other while walking forward.  With each step the tight rope walker makes adjustments in their shifting weight, while never taking their focus off of the goal of reaching the other side.  If they fail to adjust their weight or take their eye off of the goal they will not merely miss the other side, they will fall to their painful destruction or death.

Life for many Christians, especially leaders, is a lot like this.  I am seeing, the older I get and the more I study, that balance is not always an easy thing to keep.  We must continually work at keeping balance.  One of the greatest areas of balance that people, leaders in particular, struggle with is the balance of being and doing.   In order to serve God's purpose and will within our lives we need both.  However, for many of us we struggle to find balance between the two.

This is not a new problem.  Our church has been studying the people who met Jesus this summer, and recently I was challenged by how many approached Jesus asking, "what must I (we) do to inherit eternal life."  Their minds were not away from desiring the goal of heaven, and in fact they were very focused on that goal.  However, they were looking at what "they" had to do.

 To the crowd that followed Jesus after the Feeding of the Five-Thousand, Jesus challenged them to stop seeking fulfillment in the temporary and put faith fully in Him.  To the Rich Man, who was already keeping the commands of God, Jesus challenged him to sell it all, help the poor, and follow.  In both of these instances Jesus took people from a place of what "we must do", to a place of giving up on self to follow and rely upon Him fully.

I think many of us in leadership easily get caught up in what I call "Doing Theology", some might even take it to the point of "Works Theology."  Don't get me wrong.  I am not saying that we think in order to be saved that we must do some great act.  I think that for most Evangelicals we know that faith saves us.  However, after we are saved many of us forget that we are to continually be with Jesus in order to do His work in the world.  We often live like we must do something great after coming to salvation, in order to prove that we are sincere in our following of Christ.

This "Doing Theology" may not develop overnight.  We may even find balance in life at times.  However, we feel the pressures of board members, church attendees, and even worse other pastors or leaders who are looking for measurable results.  Many churches promote the idea of faith and trust in Christ alone, while turning then to attendance numbers, finances, or other measurements that we often have little or no control over.  We easily get entangled in a web of thinking that success is only in numbers or money, and not merely in serving God faithfully where we are called. 

This can often drive us to do more and more.  In doing we can fill our time and calendars up quite quickly.  However, the results are that we find little benefit or blessing.  Sometimes we do the wrong things, the less important things that God wants us to.  Sometimes we are not really spending time with God to hear what he wants, and we do what we or others think is important.  Instead we are trying to measure up to some idea of success that we have built up, or worse yet that others have built up for us.   When we miss the goals that we or others have set for success it creates a dangerous spiral.  We try harder, and find ourselves wearing and burning out in own own power.

There are some who may struggle with not doing enough, because they simply want to spend time alone with God.  They may want to hole themselves up in their holy sanctuary and stay only in prayer. They remain in Bible study for hours each day, but never take the words into action in the world around them.  They never get out and help anyone, but instead simply want to "be with God".  This can put us off balance in the opposite way.   However, my experience is that many in ministry are not really struggling with too much time with God.  Most struggle to find enough time alone with God, in order to better serve Him.

Jesus said to "Go and make disciples of all nations"(Mt. 28:19).  I have heard this best described: "as you are going".  To me part of this means that we don't stop praying, seeking, and growing in our own lives in order to serve.  Instead, serving flows out of our own prayer, seeking, and growth.   We have to have the balance of "Being in Christ" and "Serving Christ." 

 I think sometimes today we (myself included) have to beware of putting the cart before the horse, in our growing servant oriented world.  Thinking we can get people involved with serving and lead them to Christ seems very noble, but if they never find Christ then we have missed our main goal.  Worse yet, in our own lives if doing can overshadow our own relationship with God.  We can do many good and even great things before people.   However, serving the work of the Kingdom, and forfeiting our own personal soul is a danger we cannot risk.  Paul warns of this saying: "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize," (1 Co. 9:27). 

I pray that God will help us to keep balance.  I pray that on your journey with Christ that we will be filled continually with the Holy Spirit, so that we can serve in power and strength that are not our own, for the mission we serve is not our own. 

I also pray that through the rambling of my own struggle on the journey of life that God may some how bless others to know they are not alone.   It is in Christ and His strength all things are truly possible.

Blessings on the journey with Christ.

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