Protecting Our Desires
I frequently have conversations with people about their spiritual habits. As much as I enjoy the conversation it can sometimes be a bit awkward. For some reason some feel obligated to explain to me why they're not doing as well as they would like to be doing. Curious. Maybe they assume part of the reason I arranged to meet for coffee was to 'check up' on their spiritual habits? Maybe it simply reflects a frustration we all feel in our spiritual lives? Our lives are full and complicated. That means our calendars are full and complicated. It's really difficult to make time for everything we value or desire. When talking about our life with God I commonly hear some variation of "my life is so full I simply can't find time for ...". I understand that. I wrestle with the same struggle. I do think we must guard against an unhelpful (and unbiblical) sacred/secular dichotomy that fails to recognize that every aspect of our lives is spiritual. God is just as present and active when we face a chaotic morning with children, run errands, tackle 'must-do' projects around the house, or work in the classroom, cubicle or cockpit, as He is when we spend a quiet morning reading the Scriptures and journaling. In reality, part of the value we experience from a consistent spiritual routine is that it helps us pay attention to and remain rooted in God's presence with us throughout our day.
The way I protect something I value is by putting it in my calendar. Verna and I are grandparents (it took a great deal of self-control to not post a picture here - just saying!). As full as our lives are it's really important to us to enjoy time with Ellie. But if we don't plan for it other commitments will easily crowd our calendar. So the way we protect our desire is by putting it on the calendar.
Now I realize that sitting down with our calendar doesn't sound like a spiritual practice. But what if sitting before God with our calendar is one of the most holy things we can do?
I read something this week I found very helpful - well worth sharing.** My typical perspective toward my schedule centers around getting things done. I look at my day (or week/month) and think "I have way too much to do. How in the world will I get it all done!" Once I calm down I then cram as much as I can into my calendar and hope it all gets done. Sound familiar?
What if we began with a very different perspective? Putting a schedule together is not just about determining what we're going to get done but deciding who we want to become.
- Who do I want to be as a husband or wife?
- What kind of father or mother?
- What kind of friend?
- What kind of lover of God and follower of Christ?
Once we protect space on our calendar for our 'who-we-want-to-become' priorities then we move on to all the other stuff we need to get done. Now I fully realize such an approach will require some tough choices. But it may also protect us from something we've all experienced - the empty feeling of getting a lot done yet not being happy with the cost nor happy with who we're becoming in the process.
Worth thinking about
Well so much for the self-control...
Okay one more ...
** Winter 2015 issue of Leadership Journal. Interview with Bill Hybels called "The Secret Strategy of Strategic Neglect.