Sermon from 1998
One writer has written, “I never cease to be amazed at the incredible paradox of seeing many unhappy people in a world that has so much to offer. What surprises me even more is the sight of so many Christians who have succumbed to busyness, unhappiness, tightness, and boredome. Many suffer from a nagging sense of guilt that no matter how much they do it is never quite enough.
Words like wonder, joy, rest, and freedom have become fake replicas of what Christ taught. Time becomes a tyrant instead of a friend. Joy becomes something we will do later. Play becomes something for children…. Wonder is just the name of a bread, and imagination doesn't make enough money to be worthwhile.” (Tim Hansel in When I Relax, I Feel God)
With those words, Tim Hansel captures the tension felt by many of us who love the church and wish to serve faithfully, but who must balance church responsibilities with our responsibities to family and career. Maintaining the balance is a constant struggle.
I. What I must do!
A. Have perspective
Accept pressure as a sign of vitality. Have the right attitude toward pressure and find the balance.
Rather than viewing the tension created by competing demands on our time as a problem, we can view it as a sign of vitality in our lives. The desire to be active and involved is healthy. It shows a zest for life, a desire to participate fully, to use the talents and gifts we've been given to enrich the lives of others and ourselves.
As one wag observed, “The only people completely free from stress are the dead.” Putting it less dramatically but more practically, an active layman said, "If I ever get to a point of feeling comfortable, it would probably be an indication that I'm not stretching myself enough."
Jesus Christ was a man who was constantly under pressure and stress. There were demands on His time. He was very alone. He rarely had any privacy Himself. He was constantly interrupted. People misunderstood Him, people criticized Him, people ridiculed Him. He had enormous stress that would have caused any of us to cave in. But, as you look at the life of Christ, you discover very quickly that He remained at peace under pressure. He was never in a hurry. He was always at ease. He had a calmness about His life that made Him handle enormous amount of stress.
B. Get your children and spouse involved in your ministry when possible
By combining commitments, it's possible that rather than competing against each other, our various responsibilities can actually complement one another.
One father who wants to spend time with his son and also have an outreach to the community for example. A friend from DTS took his children downtown Dallas to feed the poor.
Another mom and dad asked to teach their daughter's Sunday school class. Unn at Hjørdisi’s Primary school in Scotland
A mother volunteered to be a helper in her child's school classroom.
Numerous youth workers have brought their small children into the youth-group activities to the delight of all concerned, at the same time modeling healthy family life for the young people.
And many parents who operate some kind business from their homes have found ways to involve their kids, including doing light office work, chearing up helping to make a product or perform a service.
Unn and I premarital counselling.
Get others involved. Many times, other people can help us meet our responsibilities. Delegation helps us keep our lives in balance, and it also gives who share the work an opportunity to develop their abilities.
C. Be accountable to others
By being open and accountable, we can let others help us recognize when we've gotten out of balance. People who know us well and observe our lives on a regular basis can usually tell us when we're getting out of balance better than we can for ourselves. For this to work, however, we need to give clear permission to those whose help we seek.
My “men group.”
D. Get your priorities right
I use the “traffic light” system.
Red – Always no
Yellow – Let me think about it
Green – Always yes.
E. Learn to manage your time
Listen to sermons or Bible on tape or CD
Use your waiting time to pray
Use train/bus/ferry time for communication, reading or working. So you do not have to go the office to work when you come home.
F. Give up perfectionism
The feelings may be genuine, and conscientious workers may feel that the only alternative to doing a job perfectly is not to do it at all. But perfectionism can become an excuse to avoid responsibilities that someone is going to have to take - overburdened or not.
A balanced view, however, recognizes that God calls us to tasks in each area of life, that no one area can command all our time, and that we probably can't do the very best of which we're capable in any one area because of the many demands we must meet.
Further, when God blesses our feeble efforts, we're more easily able to recognize his grace and be thankful for it.
II. What the church must do!
A. The church must not be meeting based but ministry based
I’m afraid that the church is guilty of laying more stress on families than there already is by requiring it’s members to be at almost every “meeting” of the church.
We only have three “all-church” meetings a week. Two Sunday morning and one Tuesday evening.
B. The church can help practically
C. The church can organize families working together
D. The church must give up perfectionism
We are in a spiritual battle. “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stad firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Eph. 6:11)
Satan called a world-wide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said, "We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from conservative values. But we can do something else. We can keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience In Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"
"How shall we do this?" shouted his angels. "Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life and invent un-numbered schemes to occupy their minds," he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Convince the wives to go to work for long hours and the husbands to work 6 - 7 days a week, 10 - 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work."
"Over stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, VCR, CDs, DVDs, MDs and their PCs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."
"Fill their coffee table with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services, and false hopes."
"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week.
Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts, and movies instead." "And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion."
"Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause."
It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.
Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge.
Give your pressure and life to Jesus Christ
“Come on to Me all you who…”