Each year, we find many opportunities to take on more responsibility. Some of our resolutions are good and reasonable: take a spiritual retreat, attend prayer meetings, invite others to our home, and practice hospitality. Others may be less feasible: invest more money, take more trips, or learn a new skill.
The Problem with More
When I take on too much, I find myself hurrying from one project to the next, never making time to slow down and to accept the limitations that God has placed in my life. Hurrying leads to errors in judgment, or worse. I will:
- miss opportunities to minister
- fail to focus on important issues
- say things I regret
- shortchange relationships
- react instead of act
More importantly, I grow weary and fail to meet with God and see God at work.
Dallas Willard once advised Pastor John Ortberg that to serve his congregation he must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from his life. Leading others from a place of peacefulness and contentment only comes from a lifestyle of unhurriedness.
Pastor John Mark Comer says one way of understanding Genesis 3 is that Satan tempted Adam and Eve to step outside the boundaries God had given them. With so many productivity tools available, and the rush of adrenaline that comes from checking off another task, we may miss the warning signs that we’ve taken on too much.
What the Bible Says
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:5–6)
As we consider the lines and boundaries of our lives, this passage reminds us that our limitations come from God Himself, therefore they are pleasant and beautiful.
We will always find more work that needs to be done and more people who need care. While we might think we are being noble to take on more and work faster, our motivation may not be God-centered. Do we hurry because
- We are afraid to fail?
- We fear rejection or anger of others?
- We are proud and think that no one else can complete the work?
- We find our identity in our work rather than in the Lord?
God’s word gives us the antidote to the hurry disease we face.
Meditate on God and His Word
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)
Rising early in the morning for a quiet time of prayer and Bible reading is one way of being still and focusing on God and what He has done.
Surrender to Christ’s Authority in Your Work
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30)
Some responsibilities are not ours to accept; only the yoke, or work, that Christ assigns will be light. If you are experiencing deadlines and anxiety, you can find peace by releasing the work that is not yours to do.
Embrace His Boundaries
But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. (2 Corinthians 10:13)
Instead of bragging about how busy I am, how many emails are in my inbox, and how many deadlines I face, I should rejoice in my faithfulness to His calling for me.
Practice the Sabbath
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.” (Exodus 20:8–10)
The practice of completing work in six days and taking a day away from normal activity is essential for physical and spiritual restoration.
Accept the Gospel
So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9–10)
We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day and remind ourselves to rest in Christ’s finished work on the cross.
Life often feels like a series of deadlines. The more we get done, the more we fall behind. Rather than rushing from one task to the next and ending the day with disappointment, frustration, and anxiety, let us “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Today, with so many opportunities to do more, God might be calling us to do less.
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[Nivine Richie is a women’s Bible study author and teacher in Wilmington, N.C. She is the author of Enduring Faith: An 8-Week Devotional Study of the Book of Hebrews. A university finance professor, she is actively involved in the Christian faculty association on campus. Nivine has participated in and taught many small group studies over the years, and she seeks to help others launch their own small groups. She loves the coast, camping, and a good cup of coffee. Find her at www.unfoldinghisword.com.]