No one is completely independent

“Me do it meself.”

That was my mantra as a child, and not much has changed now that I’m a grown-up. It’s certainly not bad to want to be independent. Actually, that’s pretty much the American dream. But you have to draw some realistic boundaries. No one is completely independent.

People need each other. Even if you’re the most antisocial person in the world, you still need other people in your life. Maybe we don’t all need the same people, but you can’t live life on your own. Sometimes you need help.

woman-cliff-balance-yogaToday’s verses are Acts 6:1-4.

But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” 

This is a story from the early days of the Church. The way it worked back then was very much community-focused. The members of the early Church shared everything, and as the Church grew and more and more people became Christ-followers, the Church founders (the 12 Disciples) had more and more work to do. It got to the point where they were so overwhelmed with everyday tasks that they couldn’t focus on what they’d been called to do.

Prioritizing is a struggle for me. It’s hard for me to narrow down what I’m supposed to be doing on a daily basis because I want to do so many things, but just because I want to do a good thing doesn’t make that good thing a necessity. Yes, it’s a good thing. Yes, I’ll be blessed if I do it. Yes, it’s something God’s commanded us to do. But now may not be the right time for me to do that thing.

And honestly? I may not even be the best person for the job anyway. God may want me to have the humility to accept that I can’t do everything and let someone else have the blessing of that task graciously.

The early Church did it. It wasn’t that distributing food to people wasn’t important. It’s hugely important. But the Church Leaders had other things to focus on. God had called them to a certain job, and they didn’t have the capacity to do that job and another job at the same time. So they chose other leaders within the Church and asked them for help. And God was perfectly pleased with that. He blessed the Church Leaders, and He blessed the seven new folks who were running the food program. The same is true in our own lives.

What has God called you to do? That’s the question, isn’t it? It’s a difficult answer to find, but God will tell you what He wants. You just have to ask. And then you have to listen. And then you have to do it, regardless of what anyone else around you thinks. Do that one thing. And, sure, if you have time to let other things in, do those too, but don’t let the little stuff take away from that one big thing you’re supposed to be doing. And when the little things get too big, give them to someone else. Let them go. Because you can’t do both.

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Help each other, but do it yourself

I’m great at making lists and plans and schedules. What I’m not so good at is sticking to them. Do I have any brothers and sisters out there? It’s not difficult for you to see everything that needs to be done, and you don’t even have to fight to get them into a somewhat-reasonable schedule. But when the day comes to actually follow the schedule, other priorities have popped up. People ask you to do things you didn’t plan for. Life happens.

And you have to adjust your schedule accordingly. But then you’re faced with a dilemma, because the new things you’ve added into your schedule prevent you from having enough time to do what you planned originally. So you push everything back. And then by the end of the week, it snowballs, and you’re completely buried.

I struggle with this so much because I have a hard time accepting that my plans and my goals are more important than the plans and goals of other people. And that’s where it gets tricky, because you can’t very well put yourself first and still follow Jesus, can you?

0D9BF61E08Today’s verses are Galatians 6:2-5.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. 

On first glance, this passage almost contradicts itself, doesn’t it? One one hand, we are to share each other’s burdens, but we’re supposed to be responsible for our own conduct too. Can those two statements exist in the same sentence? Help each other, but do it yourself?

Every Christ-follower has something to do that God has designed them for. It’s a unique and individual task assigned to every believer. And you should never ever undervalue that fact. What God has called you to do matters, and you shouldn’t set that calling aside lightly.

But, sometimes life does happen. Sometimes the people in your life need your help, your support, your love, and when that happens, you have to be willing to do what’s needed. Because you’re called to help your brothers and sisters in Christ just as much as you’re called to fulfill God’s destiny for your life.

But there’s a difference between helping a brother or sister who needs you and constantly putting out fires. Helping someone with a burden isn’t the same as doing your own work, and if all you’re doing is carrying other people’s burdens for them, you’re going to wear yourself out, you won’t accomplish what God has called you to do, and you’ll prevent your friend from learning a lesson God needs to teach him.

So what does this paradoxical approach to scheduling your life even look like? Beats me. It’ll be different for each person.

Once you figure out what God wants you to do (and that’s a whole different blog post in itself), you need to do it. You need to get your life to the place where you can do what God tells you to do without delay or excuse. Then, you have to DO it. That’s another step. It’s one step to find it. It’s another step to plan it. It’s a huge step to take action, but you must. Don’t just sit there. Do it.

My problem is that I don’t see my calling as equally important to someone else’s. I know I’m called to do something important, but if someone else comes along and needs help, I put more value on their calling than on mine. And that’s not necessarily wrong. I mean, who knows, maybe your calling is to help others achieve their callings. Anything’s possible, and the Body of Christ has many parts.

But if you know for sure what you’re supposed to be doing for God, don’t let anyone else tell you it doesn’t matter. That means if it’s important enough to put on your schedule, it’s important enough for you to do it, and it’s important enough for you to turn down other projects for it.

Don’t be hard-hearted about it, of course. And if life happens (as it so often does), stop to help. But ask God about it first. Ask God’s permission to step away from your calling in order to do something else.

Maybe you don’t know what your calling is, and that’s fine. Don’t give up until you find it. Ask God to reveal it, because you have one. Everybody does. Sometimes it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s a goal. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like a calling. But you’ve got one.

What you are doing for God matters. Period. And, yes, it’s important to help other people. Yes, it’s important to encourage your brothers and sisters. But don’t treat your calling as dispensable. God designed you for a purpose. There’s nothing insignificant about that.