How to Lead Successfully at Work, Home, and in Ministry
There's this targeted ad that keeps popping up in my Instagram feed. I won't name names, as hating on this guy and his program isn't helpful and frankly I don't know enough about him to run my mouth. But the gist is that he will teach you how to unleash the warrior within so you can successfully run your life like a boss.
I'm not sure if the algorithms have heard the questions pinging around in my head or if it's just so dang obvious that people in my demographic are struggling, but somehow this ad keeps showing itself again and again. I do know one thing - many of us are overwhelmed, and it isn't just men. It is outright bewildering to live in today's world, with the heartbreaks of the globe running a ticker tape with your phone going off and what do we do with social media and racial divisiveness and gender identity and mass shootings and how to raise a child in this world and political correctness and -
You get the point.
This problem of overwhelm is not a new problem. Take a young parent with a career who is somewhat involved in their church from the 1950s. Same problems, different context. Same root, different symptoms.
At the core of our worldview that we can juggle a bunch of plates and run every facet of our lives with excellence is a little word called sin. And its right hand man arrogance. And its enforcer named fear. We want to be God, we think we can be him, and we're scared to death because we aren't him. That's the problem, and it's as old as the human race. So our first problem is a broken worldview, which causes us to look at our life through a broken lens, which leads to all kinds of stupid and erratic behaviors. We have to fix our worldview first before we do anything else.
We need to rid ourselves of our God complex first and foremost and submit to the truth that we aren't God. Furthermore, we must acknowledge that if we were God, the entire universe would be in big trouble because we lack the righteousness, power, and mind to hold things together for a millisecond.
So with that in mind - if we can agree on the aforementioned - what is our approach to handling the many facets of modern life?
I don't mean sit around and meditate your identity into thin air. I mean forego your time, talents, and treasures for others.
Pour yourself out for your spouse and seek his or her needs at the expense of yours.
Invest in the mission of the company you work for and stop worrying about who gets the credit.
Offer yourself to your church and let God decide if you're a hand, a shoulder, or a toenail in the body of Christ.
The way to balance a busy and overwhelming life is not to try to balance it. It's to leave everything out there on the battlefield of life. It's to hit the pillow at night with red eyes and creaky joints because what you did that day was big enough to wring you out and it mattered to someone somewhere. It's to honor Christ by emulating his modus operandi to use himself as the vehicle of change.
But there is one more problem. We can't effectively do this alone.
Self-sacrifice without hope of reward sounds really high and mighty, but each of us knows what economists know, and that is that we are motivated by our own self interest. This isn't a theory, it's a fact. If you don't know this about yourself, you don't know yourself at all. But here is a little secret: God knows this. He designed the world in such a way that things work beautifully when in line with his plan. So as you empty yourself for others, you will get something in return. You will get joy and fulfillment. Be careful that this isn't your goal, but you will find that others care about you and that your influence will grow. Your loved ones will flourish.
This is not a bait-and-switch. We must act in love out of the great love with which Christ loved us. It's an alien love working in us which allows us stop trying to climb atop the ladder of life so we can start actually living in the moments we've been given. Though we are to abandon self, our self-interest is already cared for by our Father. God has thought of everything, of course.
If you are overwhelmed, you are not alone. The only people who don't feel overwhelmed have no responsibility or are so delusional that they can't feel the weight of responsibility sitting on their shoulders. But if you stay overwhelmed, it is by your choice. Take each day as it comes, trusting Jesus to care for your needs while you lay down your pride and comfort for the good of others. God has given you certain fields to tend. While you cannot make it rain, you can plant seeds. While you cannot cause the sun to shine, you can pull the weeds.
As you go, remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 16:25)