The art of letting things slip through the cracks

I missed the deadline. I probably could have reached it. I most certainly had content that I could push out there that would have been mildly entertaining, slightly informative, and might be worthy of a share. However, I could not. Wednesday night, Thursday morning, and as the day progressively carried on and the deadline passed further and further into the distance, my mind and body couldn’t bring itself to type a single word.

Flashes of the Youtuber who lost a million followers when he didn’t post a video one week went through my mind. I was ignoring the advice of some of the most respected voices in the blogging world, voices like Michael Hyatt, who says you must post often and consistently. The gong of advice inside my head couldn’t compel me to persevere.

Why?

Well, I’m glad you (and I) asked.

I’m tired. 

Over the last four months, I feel as though I am going at an insane pace. My everyday life consists of my job as a pastor of a church plant, father, and husband. What this means is that I am studying and producing a sermon every week. We have a small church, so it also means, I lead all the music, I do the youth, and run the programs and admin. There is some help here and there, but it up to me to get it done. I have four young kids. They need to be read with, put to bed (which is an ordeal consisting of a plethora of prescription drugs that would make a pharmacist salivate), and have family and one on one time. It’s a worthy investment, but as any parent knows, it can leave you dried up and tired.

On top of that, I have a relationship with my wife to maintain. She is blogging, watching kids throughout the day, and teaching conversational English at night. After I put the kids to bed, while she works, it is our only time together (as we try and make our way through the Marvel chronology). 

Now we need to add up all the additional things that we add into our lives. I am trying to write my second book, I’m studying to be a personal trainer, I am working out three hours a day to be in shape, so I can be a personal trainer (four years of injuries have taken their toll), and blogging twice a week.

I’ve kept up the pace. Thursday, I just couldn’t. Something had to give. I just hope I don’t lose a million followers (as if I could).

I believe we all have deadlines, goals, and priorities we need to let slip. We have to ask ourselves what are the primary responsibilities that we have.

For me, husband, father, and pastor (in that order). We then have secondary responsibilities. Again for me, studying to be a physical trainer and exercising so I look like a physical trainer. Even though I love to do it, writing has to fall into a third category. Yes, I may not sell as many books, get as many hits, or raise my social media platform (which has been suffering a lot the last few weeks), but it is not worth sacrificing the former two categories to be prolific in the later.

What I have yet to mention the uncategorically most important, my spiritual life. I need time for prayer, study, scripture, worship, meditation, and sabbath. I cannot even come close to achieving anything on the priority list with even half an ounce of “average” unless I pour into myself. It’s like the picture a flight attendant might show us how we put our mask on first before we help anyone else. 

After all, isn’t this what Jesus did? Sure there weren’t social media or blogs (although I’m sure he would if they had). Even though Jesus didn’t have all the noise of modern society around him, Jesus still had to deal with pressure, family, friends, and yes, even his own spiritual life. We see him waking early and retreating, he goes to temple, he goes to pray with a few friends, and he even says no to people requesting his assistance. 

Jesus needed to set the priorities, so do you and I. We have to be willing to let some things slide. What is vital, though, is that we don’t let the most important things slide. We must not let our spouse or kids fall through the cracks of our busy lives. It might mean we disappoint a few people when a post doesn’t come or the deadline isn’t reached in time, however, as Jesus once said, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” We must not lose our soul, the essence of life, in the process.

Today, give yourself permission to let something, that’s not all that important, slip through the cracks.

Eminem, Joseph, and the Christmas story

Why? I truly don’t know. Somehow I stumbled across a music video by Nick Cannon, where he was doing a dis-rap of Eminem. To be honest, it was kind of like a gruesome car crash. You know you should look away, you know that you will be offended if you look, but you cannot look away. That was this song. It was so bad I couldn’t turn my ears away.

Within the song, Cannon dissed Eminem because he’s raising someone else kid. I’m not entirely sure why that’s a dis. In fact, I think it is honourable.

It may be surprising, but this caused me to think about Joseph, Mary’s husband and the Eminem of the Christmas story (not because he can spit rhymes).

While the Magi, Shepherds, Angels, and Mary are important side characters in the story, we also must not forget about Joseph. Just like Eminem, he was raising someone else’s child.

Joseph, who is betrothed to Mary, discovered that she was pregnant. He knew the baby wasn’t his, but out of love for her, he decided to divorce her quietly. Luckily Joseph had a dream, and while he didn’t believe Mary when she said that this child was conceived of the Holy Spirit, he did believe the Angel that appeared to him. As he slept, the Angel said,

“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:20-21

While rumours flew in later years that Mary might have been impregnated by a Roman soldier or some random man, Jesus grew up with a swirl around his head. It wasn’t some cutesie story. In John 8:19, the religious leaders picked up on this when they said to Jesus,

“Where’s your father.”

While the story of Mary speaks to us about important issues like teen pregnancy or children born out of wedlock and how we are to think of them as Mary, the lesson from the choice that Joseph makes is essential also. In a world where boys and girls are growing up not knowing their fathers—where men run away from responsibility, are unable to cope, don’t even know they have a child, whose visitation rights are taken away and cannot be apart of their kids lives, or are in the picture but are despondent toward their offspring—we need men like Joseph… and perhaps Eminem… to step into kids lives and be a father to the fatherless.

Though this child was not his own, Joseph stepped up to the plate. When he did, he demonstrated what God is all about. in Psalm 68, it declares,

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”

Psalm 68:5

Throughout the Scriptures God, the Prophets, Apostles and Christ himself implores us to care for one another and to be his Kingdom. I like how N.T. Wright puts it when he says we take on the vocation of the Kingdom. Christmas is about the beginning of a new kingdom. One where God is King. The message to us, live out this vocation by caring for one another.

love, joy, peace, hope; these things are celebrated themes at Christmas time. Why? Because it is what we see in the Christmas story—we see it in Joseph who didn’t abandon his wife to be when she was found to be scandalous. Instead of abandonment, Joseph exemplified the character of his Eternal Father and showed love, joy, peace, and hope.

Eminem, Joseph, and the Christmas story teach us something important.

We need men to step up, not just this Christmas season, but all year round and be fathers to those who have none.

Check out the resources used in this blog

3 ways you can know God’s will for your life

As a pastor, this is one of the biggest, hardest, and most common questions that I’m asked, “How can I know God’s will for my life?”

Pastors let’s be honest, it is one of the biggest, hardest, and most common questions we wrestle within our lives. We can sometimes frame it, “What is God’s will?” or “Where is God leading?” It all boils down to the same thing, we don’t know what we are doing.

I guess that’s why we call it, faith.

I believe that there are three ways we can know God’s will for our life. However, before we get into that, I need to point two things out.

1) As Christians, our primary goal has been spelled out in Matthew 28. We are to go telling of the Good News, making disciples, and teaching them to obey. That means it doesn’t matter what you do, whether a sanitization worker or the Pope if you are making disciples you are not outside of God’s will.

2) God isn’t trying to trip you up. He isn’t waiting for you to make a mistake so he can charge you with a demerit as though he is some corporal camp counsellor. God isn’t angry when you make the wrong decision. Hurt? Sad? Yes! Just as I am disappointed when my kids do the opposite of what I tell them. Are there consequences? Yes, but they don’t lose child status. As you try and discover God’s “will” for your life, remember to do your best and invite the Holy Spirit to help you.

Now that we have those two points prefaced here are three

1) You prayed, and it feels right to you.

You have prayed, and you feel at peace. You may not think it is the best idea (or maybe you do), you may not even feel that you’re qualified (which you may not be), but that never stopped God. Look throughout the Scriptures, and you will find a motley crew, both men and women, who God used to change the world in big and small ways which were not qualified and often God’s plan for them was anything but logical.

It’s not a question of whether it makes sense or that you’re qualified, or whatnot, it is a matter of inviting God into the process and allowing Him to give you the peace and strength you need.

2) Test in Community

Even the apostle Paul brought what God had called him to before others. We need trusted people in our life who we can share what we believe God is saying to us. These need to be people who have shown that they, in faith, have followed God’s will for their lives. They need to be people of wisdom. They need to be people who aren’t going to blab (loose lips sink ships), and you need more than one.

How do you know it’s not some crazy idea you concocted yourself? How do you know it wasn’t the leftover pizza you ate last night. Community is a resource in this area. As you seek God’s face together, you can ask the Holy Spirit to speak to each of you regarding the situation and compare notes.

These two steps are incomplete without the third, and vis versa.

3) Test with the Scriptures.

We have the blessing of ancient wisdom that God inspired. The book of 1 Timothy, Paul, tell us it is “God-breathed.” The church has wrestled with what that means exactly, but what we know is that the Bible is essential, it’s vital, and it presents incredible wisdom.

When it comes to testing where God is leading with Scripture, we need to ask ourselves, is this contradictory to what the Scriptures say?

The big mistake is when we use Scripture alone. When you read and apply Scriptures within the silo of you, you can make it say anything you want (i.e. the Crusades, local immigration enforcement). However, if you invite others into this process (remember step two), you have dramatically increased the intelligence in the room.

These three steps, never working alone but functioning as a unit, they are vital steps to help you make the best decisions when trying to live in the will of God.

Are there other steps? Let me know some of your principles in the comments below.