Staying the Course – The Importance of Not Quitting: Part 1

I’m going to be quite frank: I’m not a fan of my day job.

I mean…don’t get me wrong. I take great pride in being bivocational, serving as a full-time volunteer youth pastor with a permanent governmental position on the side.

But on some days, I’m telling you…I seriously consider buying some “Just for Men” products just to combat premature greyness potential.

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After all, it’s hard to stay engaged at work when you sense your passion bucket is drying up…when the only thing keeping your midday heart afloat is a splintered desire for excellence.

‘Cause truth is: Sometimes, it’s easy to want to quit…to unplug and refresh, especially when you feel you’re heart and résumé are headed in opposite directions.

However, when we soak in the Word and rest in the arms of Christ, we can find value in steadfast persistence, even when our circumstances don’t make sense. Yes, we may be burning for a reset compass to the tune of 90°, maybe 180°, but this doesn’t have to compromise our faith in staying the course.

Think about the ministry of Christ…

Whenever Jesus encountered a difficult situation, what’s the first thing he did? He yielded. He relinquished his prerogative and instead, referenced the Father so he could be filled with wisdom and understanding.

In other words, Jesus lived what God said…because he saw his life as a pure reflection of the Father’s heart and continually established the hope of glory as his vanguard.

Thus, the more Jesus yielded, the more supernatural strength he received, which in turn, helped him not only stand firm in the midst of trials, but also live a lifestyle of perpetual obedience.

Essentially, when we discern the ministry of Jesus, we see how holy surrender is the best way to never give up.

But maybe you’re still scratching your head, wondering how this relates to the humble workingman stuck in cubicle country. I mean…it’s not like these factoids can ease the burden of two rush hour commutes a day or the patronizing, unprofessionally filtered dialogue ponging up the airwaves and hallways…

or can it?

You see, studying the nature and ministry of Christ not only inspires us to live a life worthy of the calling set before us (Ephesians 4:1), but also compels us to take up our cross (Matthew 16:24-26). Without it, there’s no way we can expect our natural perspective to calibrate to where it needs to be.

And yet, on the flipside, I understand the profile of the unfulfilled employee whose frustration mounts whenever a co-worker is promoted out of bias or when another is  intentionally disregarded.

However, whenever I feel suffocated or ignored by a colleague, I remember the attitude Christ had whenever he encountered animosity.

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And suddenly, my crap doesn’t feel so…crappy anymore.

True, I may be tempted to vent steam in the face of what feels like discriminate functionality. But glory to God if I’m hard-pressed. Glory to God if I feel abandoned…if I’m stuck in a jam and the only way out is reliance upon His unfailing masterheart.

Bottom line: You may find yourself in a bland situation, feeling like you’re filing your creativity away …or stuck between provisional responsibility and a dream pursuit.

But whether you feel pinned under overwhelming pressure or hardened by lifelessness, the point is: Don’t quit…but stay the course!

Remember each season of your life is a stepping stone in the direction of the unfathomable calling God has for you. So don’t believe the lie that God doesn’t care about the job you do…or that everything has to make sense in order to embrace the opportunity in front of you.

Instead, press in, press through and put yourself in a position to hear God’s heart and voice, so when you hear His call, you won’t hesitate to obey even if you don’t fully understand the answer. For God always sees the ultimate goal and nothing is impossible with him (Luke 1:37). After all, He not only sees the light at the end of the tunnel – He is the light.

Let’s pray…

God, we want to be difference makers at our jobs, even though it may seem most of the people we work with tick the living shrek out of us. God, we want to love what’s hard, not just what’s easy. We don’t want to give up and surrender the chance we have to be light in the darkness. We may not be a fan of what we do. We may not see how this pertains to our calling. But by faith, we’re going to believe there’s a purpose behind the position you’ve blessed us with. We don’t have to see it to believe it and we don’t have to like it to live it. At the end of the day, we’re going to be obedient. And we trust that you’ll create and develop in us a stronger desire to selflessly serve while standing tall in adversity. It’s not about us. It’s all about you. So take this numb heart and breathe life back into it so we may be able to give life back to others. Amen!”

4 Ways to Maximize Time Efficiency: Part 1

paperwork-time-efficiency-02-22884394Have you ever wished there were more hours in a day? I know I have…many times, in fact. No doubt, in this day and age, we’re all circus performers, doing our very best to juggle all of life’s responsibilities. Yet, if we’re completely honest with ourselves, we’ll eventually realize how easy it is to hide a lack of discipline behind a love of distraction. True, we may be genuinely busy, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we believed we’re busy all the time. The fact of the matter is: if we look hard enough, we can find golden opportunities in our day to be good stewards of the time given to us. And as we’ll discuss later on, in the case of the bivocational minister, such truth can go a long way in expanding the tent pegs of ministerial effectiveness.

So with that said, here are four ways one can maximize time efficiency…

  1. Create daily/weekly time blocks for quiet time, planning, study…and rest!

Call me “old-school”, but I’m a firm believer in purposeful planning…in carving out set periods of time to plan, prep and soak in the Word. I know, I know. I’m no fun. Psh, whatev. But seriously, we live in a time that tolerates a “go with the flow, pedal to the medal” philosophy. We think if we push hard and fast enough, we’ll get everything done the way we want it. However, the problem with this approach is it’s not a reliable solution. In the long run, such thinking will only lead to skewed priorities, relational frustrations and burnout.

Truth is: If you want to righteously juggle a full load, it’s imperative to employ healthy time-management skills. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, there’s a time for everything … but at the end of the day, it’s up to us to use it wisely. By designating daily and/or weekly opportunities for quiet time, planning, studying and rest, you’re ultimately embracing a balanced diet of #smartlifechoices.

  1. Maximize free time.

When it comes to effectively managing multiple agendas, a good place to start is by maximizing free time. As an example, let’s assume a bivocational pastor has a standard day job adhering to labor law guidelines, and thus, grants 60-90 minutes of free time between snack and lunch breaks. Do you think the pastor, in his right mind, would waste such valuable time on social media and Candy Crush Saga? Of course not!

In order to maximize free time, it’s imperative to breathe purpose into inevitable stopping points…from the mandated lunch break to the compulsory bathroom break. For me, often times, the best way to get ahead is to give myself the opportunity to get ahead. And when I slow down enough to thoroughly analyze a typical day’s routine, I find more time gaps exist then I previously thought!

And true, time may seem to fly faster off the clock or on the go; however, don’t let this stop you from effectively maximizing it, whether it’s balancing your checkbook, drafting an important text, making a phone call or outlining a sermon. Truth is: You’ll feel freer when you create more free time with the free time you’ve been given.

So press on, challenge yourself…and don’t allow yourself to be intimated by time restraint. Either way, the goal here is to find appropriate outlets linking the “light-bulb” ideas that surface at work to time blocks (see point #1) set aside to complete them.

Stay tuned next time for “Part 2” where I’ll expound upon my final two points

4 Reasons Why It’s OK to Enjoy Having a Professional Job: Reason 2

Last time we discussed how even the Apostle Paul had a day job. And all the bi-vocationals (is that a word?–it is now:) ) rejoiced. Today we are taking a quick look at one of the most valid, yet under rated reasons to enjoy your day job. It’s a little thing called the Great Commission.

Reason 2: Where light is absent, darkness abounds.

If all believers were in “full time” church ministry, can you imagine how dark the workplace would be? Jesus came into our world as a great Light and the darkness could not overcome it (John 1:5). We are called to shine like stars in the midst (or in the middle of) a dark and perverse generation (Phil 2:15).

That would not happen if we all were permanent fixtures within the four walls of the church.

I’ve worked in my fair share of corporate environments. Everything from those with a ministerial focus to those who were simply looking to make a buck. In some of those instances, I was the only believer. Those were the places that my ministry as a Christian and not a “leader” really made a difference. Burn brightly my friends, and don’t ever feel like you need to apologize for enjoying an outlet of being Jesus’s hands and feed. We are in a blessed position, equipping the saints and lighting up the night.

You don’t have to take my word for it. We’ll take a look at how Jesus viewed work in point 3.