Too Many Directions (Guest Post)

I’m delighted to share a guest post today by my friend Pamela Simpson. Pamela has been involved in inner-city ministry in NYC since 1997, and after numerous roles and ministries, she found her primary niche to be in worship leading. She currently leads the worship team at her home church—and I have it on good authority that she’s in hot demand at other churches and special events too! She is a singer/song-writer and freelance writer who enjoys teaching and public speaking, which suit her well in her “day job” as an elementary school teacher in the New York City public school system.

Like many of you, Pamela knows the perils of being over-committed—especially when it comes to serving the body of Christ. Here, she shares some great advice rooted in scripture. I trust it will serve you well, especially those of you serving in church ministry during this, the busiest week in the Christian church! May we all remember to do the “one thing,” even as we are pulled in too many directions…

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Even as I write this, I am being pulled to twelve other things. The house needs to be cleaned. I’ve got things that need to be packed and mailed. There’s ironing to do, and quite frankly, the show on rescuing sea turtles in Hawaii looks really interesting…

This is an experience common to us all. No matter what we are doing, we often feel like we need to be, should be, or want to be doing something else.

We live in a culture where we are lauded for our ability to “multi-task.” The more you can accomplish at once the better. Aren’t we amazing?

Recently, however, I read an article explaining that multi-tasking is a misnomer. In fact, it’s not even possible. Our brains do not allow us to engage in more than one activity at a time. In actuality, when we think we are multi-tasking, we are just switching rapidly between tasks: back and forth, between two or more activities. None of the tasks get our attention for more than a few minutes at a time, and, as a result, the quality of what we produce is significantly reduced. In other words, we may accomplish several things, but none of them will be done to our full potential.

“Jack of all trades, master of none.” More and more, I see this is not a good thing. It might be OK if we are talking about home-improvement skills. But, it is not the way to live our lives.

In our jobs, our relationships, our spiritual commitments… are we trying to do it all, and failing to do any of it well?

At one point in my life, I was leading a young girls’ Bible study, leading worship, heading an intercessory team and sitting on the governing board at my church. And that was just my church life… never mind the rest of it! I was prone to guilt and said ‘yes’ to just about anything anyone asked me to do. It wasn’t long till I was worn out, disheartened and even resentful.

Even in the ‘smaller’ tasks of life, am I frustrated with myself if I can’t cook dinner, do the laundry and catch up on emails all at once? Too often, yes.

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Now, there are practical applications here. Make lists, prioritize, focus on one thing at a time. Be careful what you say “yes” to. Minimize your commitments. Know what you are good at, called to and equipped for; then do that, and do it with your full heart and total attention.

But I think also of our spiritual lives. I know I can get frustrated because I need to feed the hungry, clean the church, minister to the hurting, lead a bible study, bake for the bake sale.… the list goes on and on. Please don’t misunderstand me… there is a need and a place for all these things. But Jesus calls us to ONE THING (Luke 10: 38-42). One thing? Really? With all there is to do? What is that ‘one thing,’ anyway? We do get a few clues:

Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27).

One thing I do… setting aside what is behind, I look forward to the high calling of Christ… (Phil. 3: 13-14)

Only one thing is necessary, and Mary has chosen the better part (Luke 10:42).

Seek first the Kingdom of God… (Matt. 6:33)

It seems that once the ‘one thing’ is in place, everything else will fit in as it should. I think the way you live out your one thing and the way I live out mine will look different. But the motive, the drive, the heart behind it, should be essentially the same: Jesus first.

Father, today I ask you will show me clearly what my “one thing” is to be. May I do it heartily, as unto you. By your grace, I will do and be what you ask me to do and be, and set all else aside.

Let it be so, for all of us!

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