home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > April > SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS TO CONSIDER

SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS (AND THE REST OF US) TO CONSIDER

¶ Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Proverbs 6:6

It seems to me that when God wants something done, He calls a busy person to do it. There was a time, not that long ago, where most people were busy by default. All of their time and efforts from sun-up to sun-down were spent just trying to survive. But as our civilisation and its economy developed and we increasingly mechanised tasks done by people working manually. This advancement in an economy comes with many benefits. Rather than everyone simply trying to provide for the basics of life, they can now focus on those things that also advance and the well-being of a society. This includes education, the arts, leisure, health-care, and sport. It also allows for people to specialise and focus on, their trade, skill or profession so that they no longer have to grow their own crops or graze their own cattle for milk or meat. Theoretically, it therefore means that people have more time to do things other than work such as those just listed. Yet, rather than being less busy, many people are busier than ever and often these busier-than-ever people feel they are not necessarily getting much done. This general busy-ness has presented challenges for those of us who work in the not-for-profit volunteer sector who rely on the availability of volunteers to help run their organisations and think the Proverbial ant might have something for us to consider about this.

Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
Proverbs 6:7-8

 

TWO TYPES OF BUSY

I’m involved with a big project that involves leaders from other churches around our city. None of these people have time to spare and especially do not have time to waste. Each of them are busy people. They each bring a set of skills and a connection with a network of others that is enabling us to plan and manage one of the biggest city-wide Christian celebrations in the history of Launceston. In observing each of these leaders in this newly formed team, I notice that while they are each busy, and already involved in their own major projects, they are still able to manage to contribute their time into this joint effort. This has helped me to realise that there are two types of busy. We have already introduced the busy person who doesn’t seem to get much done, and now I have introduced a different type of busy person who does seem to be able to get done what needs to be done.

¶ Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer;
Proverbs 30:24-25

 

PRODUCTIVE AND BUSY

Busy-yet-productive people are like ants in many ways. They have learned how to use their time efficiently and effectively. Like ants, they have learned how to work independently and with others. Like ants, in doing this they seem to be lift objects above their own body weight, and when they work with other similarly busy-yet-productive people, they can do so in ways that seem to defy the laws of physics. Nearly all (if not actually all) of these busy-yet-productive people are people who have been stretched and along that journey have come to realise two important things about being busy-yet-productive:

  1. Focus on the important rather than the urgent.

  2. Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.

Busy-frantic people get caught up in the urgent instead of focusing on the important. Busy-yet-productive people nearly always commence their weeks with a plan — they carry a diary which contains their weekly to do lists and they hold themselves accountable to it. They seem to make time for the important as a priority over the urgent. This is why #2 is actually a restating of #1 — they sabbath. They make the setting aside of time from their usual activity to sabbath. They recognise the importance of sabbathing and what it involves – worshiping God with God’s assembled people, prayerfully surrendering to God, allowing the preached Word to wash and renew their soul, and physically/mentally resting.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

 

CONSIDER ANTS

The Book of Proverbs warns against laziness and instructs readers to consider the ant (Prov. 6:6). In considering the ant we notice that they always live within a colony (a community). Within that colony they each have assigned roles (a purpose). Together they pool their efforts to achieve a common goal (a mission). They intuitively plan and prepare for the future so that they can leave a legacy. They go about their work methodically which seems to resemble good training (a work ethic). No wonder God tells us to consider the ant! Their example is a great benchmark for how a society, a community, and a church is to function. As we read through the New Testament instructions for Christian living we read some very “ant-like” directives for believers-

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4:15-16

When we yield to Christ our desires and priorities are transformed. Just as the ant is created by God to “know” what they are to do, the believer finds himself or herself having their will shaped by God resulting in a desire to work for the benefit of others.

for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Philippians 2:13

The ant-like nature of a Spirit-filled believer is most evident in two ways: their attitude and their supernatural strength to serve. Note these two aspects of a busy-yet-productive believer-

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24

 

GOD ALWAYS STRENGTHENS THOSE HE STRETCHES

There are those who look busy but are not very productive. There is a difference between riding a rocking-horse and riding a horse! There are those who are busy yet are highly productive because they’ve learned to work like an ant which involves managing that their time is focused on (i) maintaining their important relationships, (ii) taking regular sabbaths, (iii) prioritising the important over the urgent, and (iv) cooperating with others. These busy people have learned to recognise God’s open doors and have confidence that the Apostle Paul had – that it is God who gives them supernatural energy to toil, struggle and work to get things done when no-one else thought it possible. If you want to stop being busy and become busy-yet-productive, then learn these lessons from the ant!

For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.
Colossians 1:29

 

Your pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

2 Comments

  1. Marko Stepanovic

    Thank you Pastor Andrew,
    Great advice, sometimes I do feel very busy but not very productive.
    From this good message you have shared I will plan my week better.
    My wife always said make a list. God blesses those who listen to their wives!

    God Bless

    Reply
    • legana

      Well done Marko!

      Reply

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EXCUSE ME

The essence of an excuse is the word, no. If we get invited to a party that we don’t to go to and we make a polite excuse to decline the offer, in essence we are saying “No, I will not come to your party.” This is the gist of the parable that Christ told in Luke 14 about His Father who sent His Son as His Servant to personally invite those who had already received an invitation to come to a great banquet. (It’s interesting how Jesus describes His Father’s heaven as a great banquet.) By saying “No” to the great banquet invitation those who were declining this invitation were saying that they had a better offer. What offer could be better than dining with the Source of Life, Joy, Peace, and Power, as His special guest in His luxurious mansion? What happens next in this parable also says a lot about how God feels when people make excuses to decline His offer to dine.

BELONGING

I’m not sure about you, but one of my great wrestles in becoming more Christlike is that sinful tendency to see my time, my resources, my life as belonging to me. I like to control it. I like to own it. I like to decide what happens and when.

God, in His great grace and wisdom, seems to work in our lives reminding us how little we truly control and that it all truly does belong to Him. So often these reminders come in the way of hardship and loss with the call to surrender ownership and control.

If our Heavenly Father was a despotic God, a cruel, tyrannical God who acted arbitrarily and selfishly for His own ends, knowing we belonged to Him would cause us to tremble and live in fear and apprehension.

But praise Him that this is not our God!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies your with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:2-5

ROOFS AND DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING

ROOFS AND  DRAGONS – THE VALUE OF PLANNING
John F. Kennedy once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”  J.R.R. Tolkien said, “It does not do to leave a live a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” Having a plan is generally a strategy that will help us to get things done, or respond correctly when things go wrong. A plan may help us to find a solution and a way through an adverse situation that we are experiencing. A plan also helps us to know what resources we might need for dealing with situations that we can foresee.

When it comes to thinking about the importance of planning, a statement that is worth considering is one that I like to get my Maritime Passage Planning students to contemplate:

‘The best thing about failing to plan, is that disaster comes as a complete surprise that is not preceded by hours or days of stress and worry associated with the planning process.’

SOMETHING FOR SLUGGARDS TO CONSIDER

There are those who look busy but are not very productive. There are those who are busy but are highly productive. Often these people have learned that busy needs to be managed so that their time is focused on maintaining their important relationships, taking regular sabbaths, prioritising the important over the urgent, and cooperating with others. These busy people have learned to recognise God’s open doors and have confidence that the Apostle Paul had that it is God who gives them supernatural energy to toil, struggle and work to get things done when no-one else thought it could be.

WHAT COVID DID TO CHURCHES’ MOMENTUM

The Covid pandemic and its effect upon Churches has caused many church leaders and their teams to reevaluate what it means to be the Church. This leads into some really healthy questions that challenge what many had previously unquestionably accepted as “Church”. What ‘should’ a church do when it meets together for its weekly gathering (especially if it can’t actually ‘gather’)? How should the leaders and members of a church contribute to the issues confronting society and culture? Or should the Church be disengaged from ‘the world’ and treat its Christianity as purely ‘private’ matter between the worshiper and God? What do the ministries within a Church within a church — especially that of an evangelist — look like it the Church can not actually meet due to ongoing Covid lockdowns? Perhaps several of these questions might never have even been asked if it wasn’t for Covid. But one thing is for sure, the answer to these questions can be found within Scripture and the lessons from Church history and require that we prayerfully seek the Spirit’s guidance as we apply the best answers. Perhaps it will be then that we can build some fresh momentum and reach the current and next generation for Christ.

CONSPIRITUAL CONSPIRACIES

This is why we can have great confidence in the accounts given in the Bible. Two of the four evangelists (Matthew and John) who wrote Gospels were eye-witnesses to many of the events they describe – particularly and critically – the resurrection appearances of Christ. Rather than appealing to a “trust me when I tell you…” approach, the Biblical writers of the New Testament invite readers to examine the evidence for themselves and consider carefully what they have presented. They do not present their accounts anonymously or in an only share this after I’ve died memoir approach. When the apostle Paul could say that the physically resurrected Christ was seen by up to 500 people at one time and that most of these people are still alive (1Cor. 15:6), he was inviting verification of the facts that he presented (and we have no record of anyone ever refuting Paul’s claim). This made the claims of Christianity verifiable and it therefore makes the further claims of Christianity about a spiritual new birth testable and verifiable today.

¶ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:30-31

THIS WILL ONLY TAKE A MINUTE!

When we reflect on the life of Christ we can’t help but notice that He was a supremely important mission but what we may not as easily notice is how often Jesus was interrupted. Out of these interruptions came miracles, moments, and monumental messages. It’s as if Christ considered these interruptions to be divine appointment that actually furthered His mission! For those of who live busy lifestyles and find interruptions to be frustrating, Christ’s example presents an inconvenient challenge. To meet this challenge involves a posture of worship and divinely ordering our priorities. And I do not at all suggest that this will only take a minute!

FAILING WELL

If there was a ’Year Book‘ for Christ’s Twelve Disciples, which one would have been voted “Most likely to succeed”? Probably Judas Iscariot would have. I doubt that Simon Peter would have received any votes. After all, he had failed and goofed up so many times! But in the end, both men failed in similar ways yet only Peter ‘failed well‘. How he did it should give those of us who regularly fail — and all too often feel like failures — hope that God is able to redeem both us and our failures.

EVEN THOUGH IT’S UNFATHOMABLE, UNSEARCHABLE, AND UNCOMPREHENSIBLE, YOU STILL NEED IT!

Jesus Christ Himself was the ultimate personification of wisdom (1Cor. 1:24, 30), yet He Himself, when He became incarnate, had to ‘increase’ in wisdom. And chances are that if Jesus had to ‘increase in wisdom’ then so do we! In God’s unfathomable wisdom He permits us to learn how to increase in wisdom by learning from our mistake and failures. Yet, there are times when, as James the brother of Jesus wrote, that God gifts wisdom to His children. This may not be a ‘Matrix type’ of human-software update, but it could come to you in way you did not expect in response to your prayer for God’s wisdom where you have a “light-bulb moment”. And when you experience one of those rarer moments of ‘received’ wisdom (where God gives us wisdom), it might be time to implement some wisdom from the life of Daniel, who, when it happened to him, he gave God the glory for it.

SCARED, SCARRED, SACRED

The gospel offers hope and healing for those who have been violated — those who were once scared (for good reason), and who have been scarred by the hurt they have endured — have found redemption and a sanctuary in the sacred community of God’s redeemed.