The main street at Old Cowtown, Wichita, KS

Doing the one thing you’re called to do

When you have three good paths you can walk, how do you choose the best one? Has anyone else ever been there? I seem to end up at an intersection of competing opportunities every other day, and being the perfectionistic people pleaser I am, I always try to do everything for everybody.

But you can’t do that forever. You can’t always say yes. I mean, you can, but sooner or later, you’re going to crash and burn. Because you’re not superhuman. You have to sleep and eat and take care of your health at some point, whether you believe it or not.

The main street at Old Cowtown, Wichita, KS

The main street at Old Cowtown, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a familiar story. Most everyone probably knows it, and it’s probably been used in more Sunday school lessons and sermons than anyone can count. I know I’ve heard this story all my life.

So why do I keep trying to make decisions like Martha?

Martha’s heart was in the right place. She wanted to use her gifts to serve Jesus, but she was trying to do too much. She weighed herself down with too much responsibility, and then when she saw her sister sitting and listening, doing one thing (no matter how important it was), I’m sure she got irritated.

I would have been. But Mary had the right idea. She had the opportunity to do one thing–listen. And I think we all usually end up in that same place. We have the chance to do many things or we have the chance to do one thing, and if you’re the sort of person who can manage lots of multitasking, you won’t want to stop with one thing.

And it’s not bad to multitask. If you’re a “ten-talent” servant, make the most of what you have. Use your gifts and your abilities for God, and He’ll multiply them exponentially. But remember even the ten-talent servant started out with five talents. It was God who doubled them. He didn’t take ten and try to make good on the investment on his own.

What has God called you to do? Do you know? Some people know specifically. Other people have a sort of vague understanding. But whatever it is God has called you to do, just do it. And just do it alone.

Don’t do anything else. Don’t try to add to it. Don’t try to supplement it. Don’t try to enhance it.

God has created you for a specific task, and maybe you’re one of those people who can handle multiple tasks, but I’m willing to bet they’re probably all related to each other in some way.

Everything I’m good at has to do with words. Everything God has gifted me in has to do with words and communicating. When I try to do anything other than that, I can do it, and I can do it well, but it’s difficult for me. It’s not my gift. And most of the time whenever I agree to do something outside my gift, it’s to please other people.

Not always, of course. When I have the time and I can help set up chairs or work outside and pick people up and drop people off, I’m so glad to do it. But when it comes to efficiently managing the time that God has given me, saying yes to tutoring someone in math would be a horrible idea, no matter how much I want to make them happy.

Get serious with God. Get close to Him. Get to know Him. And the more you get to know Him, the better understanding you’ll have of what He wants for your life.

Ask Him, and keep your options open. Be willing to do what He asks you to do, and you never know where you might end up.

The old schoolhouse in the blowing snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Chasing the wind is hard work

I’ve always been told I’m a responsible person. Even from a very young age, adults always told me I was responsible, and that’s great. I guess I am. But sometimes being responsible is a pain in the neck. Why? Maybe you’ve never experienced this, but being responsible means you get things done. Being responsible means you perform above and beyond expectations. Being responsible means you never let people down. Being responsible means you run yourself into the ground trying to do too many things at once, and before you know it, you’ve said yes to so many people that you’ve become irresponsible on account of having too many responsibilities. How messed up is that?

Being responsible is a good thing. But having too many responsibilities (coupled with a natural control freak propensities) is a recipe for nervous breakdown.

The old schoolhouse in the blowing snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The old schoolhouse in the blowing snow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ecclesiastes 4:6.

“Better to have one handful with quietness
    than two handfuls with hard work
    and chasing the wind.”

Before I go too deep into this, I just want to mention that Ecclesiastes is a really strange book. It’s a wonderful book, full of great wisdom and really painful truths, but you have to be careful not to pull verses out of context. Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s ruminations about the meaning of life, and sometimes I think he gets a little sarcastic in there. Ecclesiastes is a book you kind of have to take as a whole, not just a piece at a time. But this verse stood out to me because I’ve come to appreciate how true it is.

I like being busy, but more than that, I like being useful. I crave usefulness. And in my desperate need to be useful, I often take on too much. And at the end of the day, all of those responsibilities and things that I say yes to don’t really add up to much. I’ve spent a lot of time working on projects and doing things that haven’t mattered, that haven’t made a difference, that haven’t left one bit of legacy.

Chasing the wind is hard work. If you’ve never tried, you might not know, but it is. It’s exhausting because you can never really keep up, and you never know where it’s going to blow next. Oh, you may have some success. You may get promoted. You may get more responsibility and more respect and more fame. And there’s nothing wrong with any of that. But aren’t there some times when you long for quiet? You can have both hands full of busyness, chasing your tail, chasing your dream, chasing the wind, pulled in so many directions you don’t know which way is up anymore. And is that enough? Does that satisfy you?

I’m not saying we’re supposed to settle. I’m a dreamer, remember? And I dream big. And I’m going to keep dreaming.

But before you act on your dreams, you’d better make sure those dreams are coming from something bigger than you. You can chase your dreams all day long with both hands full of responsibility, and you’ll never catch them. Even if you catch up, you won’t have a hand free to grab them with.

Be true to your word. Be responsible. But be responsible enough to know when you’ve had enough. And don’t let your control freak perfectionist mentality take over your common sense either. If you’ve got work in front of you that needs to be done, do it. God will honor it.

If you’re going to chase the wind, chase it with one hand free. Don’t grab hold of so many things that they slow you down. If you can chase your dreams with one hand open, maybe you can actually catch them.