“I don’t have time for that”. “Let me check my schedule to see where I can squeeze you in”. “I’m so tired, I can’t do another thing”. “Nope. Sorry. I am way too busy to be able to do that”. Perhaps you’ve said some of those things. A friend of mine literally said this to me yesterday: “I’d love to do that but I’m too busy. I can’t fit another thing on my plate.” Perhaps you wrestle with guilt about having to say no to certain things. How did we get to this point? Busyness is an epidemic in the Western World. The problem is that we think that with all the societal technological time saving advances we’re saving time, but the reality is we’re busier than ever because with the “extra time” we keep adding more things to our plate!
Last Sunday we looked at Acts 6:1-7. Here we see the apostles dealing with a time management problem that has arisen. Before when the church was 120 people, or even 3000 people after Pentecost, they seemed to have the capacity of doing everything themselves. But as the church had continued to multiply explosively and reached probably somewhere in excess of 10,000 people (Acts 4:4 counts 5,000 MEN), they had come to the crisis point where it became obvious that they couldn’t provide leadership over all aspects of ministry anymore. The problem that had arisen pertained to daily food distribution to widows (Acts 6:1). How do the apostles respond? They welcome the involvement of more leaders to take over that aspect of ministry. Doing this will permit them to “spend [their] time teaching the word of God”(v.2). They repeat it again, that the development of leadership is crucial so that “we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word”(v.4).
What can we learn from their example? The first application I want to raise pertains to every follower of Jesus, not just those in leadership. It is too easy to allow the tyranny of the urgent to squeeze out time in the Word and prayer. Like breathing to the physical body so is prayer to the spirit. It is essential. Reading Scripture regularly to allow God to speak to us afresh and apply his truth to our situations is also essential. The sooner we learn those truths, the sooner our lives will be grow in Kingdom fruitfulness. From a human perspective spiritual disciplines can seem mundane and irrelevant. But the supernatural mystery is that as we step into them we experience joy and power and wisdom we never dreamed possible.
The second application I want to make applies to leadership, but also in another sense to all followers of Jesus as we believe everybody has a ministry and is called to exercise the faith and gifts that God has given them. It takes time to know with reasonable assurance what our gifts and calling are, but when we do know I believe that God expects us to build our ministry schedule around them. Just as the apostles realized they had to set aside the good for the best, so we too need to be vigilante and ruthless to manage or time and calendars. May the Lord grant that we be known as focused instead of busy.