The Reality of Intentionality
Last week I had two of my good friends contact me within a day of each other. Ironically, both needed to discuss the very same issue. Now, these two friends do not know each other and do not live in the same town, or even the same state. Unfortunately, I have unsuccessfully dealt with the very topic they needed to discuss too many times myself. Here’s the dilemma and I’m writing about it because it may be yours on a regular basis too.
Both these friends are very busy men. Both work in demanding ministries, both have leadership roles in their churches, and both have more people than they can please in a given week vying for their time. Sound familiar yet?
One friend was convicted that something had to come off his plate right away, while the other had someone trying to force something onto his plate and even using Scripture to manipulate him to accept it. Scenarios are a bit different, but end result is the same.
So, what do you do? What is the best approach? How do you do the right thing and not offend someone or even hurt someone? When everything you’re doing is good and appears to be God stuff, what goes?
Here’s some counsel that I hope will help:
1. Write down everything you are involved with—on one piece of paper, so you can see it.
So often for us as guys, we have all these things in our heads and on our calendars, but we never really look at it all together. You may write down what you’re doing regularly and see immediately why you’re overwhelmed. But lay it out, so you can see it for yourself.
2. Hand over your list to God.
Give it to Him. Ask Him to speak to you and tell you what you press into, what you give up, and what you scale back on. Only He has the balance for your life and only you can hear His answer.
3. After you’ve heard from God, it’s HCT—Hard Call Time.
Getting ourselves overcommitted is actually quite easy these days; it’s getting out of things and getting balanced again that is really hard. But it has to be done for you to stay effective.
4. You’re going to have to disappoint some people.
Especially if your over-commitments have disappointed your family and friends, it’s time for balance. Our culture breeds over-commitment and people-pleasing, so telling someone no or that you’re pulling out is going to disappoint. It could even make some mad. Someone might go so far as to question your character. It’s okay. They’ll get over it. So will you. You have to keep the focus on balance. Help people understand all you can—communicate—and help find a replacement or offer a plan of action for your absence—compensate, but stay true to your decision.
5. Above all, please your Heavenly Father.
Read the Gospels some time from the standpoint of people’s expectations of Jesus and what Jesus did, how He responded. Jesus got blamed for some things. People tried to manipulate Him to do things their way. People tried making Jesus feel guilty for not being somewhere, or even somewhere at the time they thought he should be. It really will amaze you when you look at the Scriptures through that lens of how, even in that day, people placed selfish expectations on Jesus, but it is equally amazing how He always stayed true to the Father’s plan. As always, a perfect Role Model.
To close, don’t do good things for the wrong reasons. Don’t let others dictate what your life is about. People will come and go, causes will come and go, programs will come and go. And your life will come and go too, so be intentional with your time. In the end, you and God will be pleased with that.
But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. —Matthew 6:33 AMP
But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well. —Matthew 6:33 CEV
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. —Matthew 6:33 MSG