The first woman had been in ministry for five months. The second was in her 20th year. Both were feeling the exact same way. Overwhelmed.
I haven’t been able to get these two women out of my mind.
It’s probably because overwhelmed would be a good descriptor for most people I know (not just people in “ministry” or the guy writing this blog post).
…an overwhelmed parent?
…an overwhelmed pastor?
…an overwhelmed teacher?
…an overwhelmed employee?
…an overwhelmed executive?
Feeling overwhelmed is not the exception these days. It’s the rule. (Heavy sigh.)
In the last week since these conversations took place, I’ve been pondering what leads to the overwhelmed-ness that seems to mark our lives.
The longer I ponder, the more clearly I see the direct correlation between how much I believe three lies and how overwhelmed I feel. (This is certainly not an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.)
Lie #1: You will never do this as well as _____ .
This lie is rooted in comparison.
Fewer words in the English language are uglier – or more destructive – than “comparison.” We know it, and yet we do it all the time.
The problem is, we almost always compare our worst moments with someone else’s best moments. You see someone else’s current success, and in the very next moment, Satan reminds you of your past failure.
It’s a lie.
Here’s the truth: You were made exactly as God wanted you. You are equipped with the exact talents and tools for the situation He has put you in. He is not using you as a placeholder until the “right” person comes along. You are the right person. The people He has surrounded you with need you. Not someone else. You.
You and I would do well to internalize Psalm 139 (and say it out loud in the mirror every day). Here’s a taste from verses 13-14…
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”
Or how about this one from Colossians 3?
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Lie #2: This is just a “busy season.”
This lie is rooted in time prioritization.
The first time I typed the previous sentence, I used the words “time management.” I don’t think that cuts it.
When I hear “time management,” I think of making sure I’m spending this amount of time at work, that amount with the family, this amount with prayer and Bible reading, that amount with exercise and play, etc.
Maybe it’s just me, but time prioritization feels different. It’s less about creating a calendar with time slots, and more about looking at what is truly important and devoting I-am-fully-present time to each thing.
Time prioritization takes more thought and greater intentionality. It also leads to more focused time – with family, at work, and with God.
Don’t hear what I am not saying! I understand there truly are some busy seasons, or jobs that are cyclical in nature. I’m not talking about that.
To get where I’m coming from, let me ask you one question: Has your “busy season” lasted way longer than you thought it would? (Maybe weeks, months, or even years longer.)
Too often we believe the lie that things will slow down on their own. That leads to unintentional living. To time management without prioritization. To living reactionally rather than purposefully.
Here is how the New Living Translation translates Ephesians 5:10…
Carefully determine what pleases the Lord.”
Carefully determine. Sounds pretty intentional don’t you think?
Lie #3: There is so much more I should be doing.
This lie is rooted in achievement.
The conversations I referenced in the opening paragraph occurred during two coaching sessions at the National Children’s Pastors Conference. Both of the women said (in almost exactly these words), “I am overwhelmed by how much I’m seeing here that I could be doing in my ministry back home.”
Sadly, most of us see what we could be doing and immediately change the word could to should in our minds.
Once again, this is in no way limited to “ministry” work.
“I would be such a better parent if I…”
“My work would be so much more profitable if I…”
“My ministry would reach so many more if I…”
“My relationship with God would be so much deeper if I…”
The problem is not that we say these sentences. The problem is that we end them with way too long of a list!
It is so hard to discover something that would be beneficial – for you, your family, your ministry, or your work – and make the decision not to implement it immediately. Because all these things are good, we think we should do all of them.
I will tell you what I told them (and what I have to keep telling myself daily):
What is the “next thing” God is calling you to? Pray about it. Process it with your spouse, your kids, or your team at work.
Then put the rest in the “maybe later” pile and focus on the next thing. Work hard at it. Do it well.
It might be helpful to jot down Proverbs 4:25 and tape it to your computer monitor, mirror, dashboard or wherever your eyes frequently gaze…
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
I wonder how much more productive – and joy-filled – our lives would be if you and I would stop believing the lies and start believing the truth.
The truth that you are exactly who God made you to be and where He needs you to be.
The truth that you living with intentionality will always be better than living reactionally.
The truth that God isn’t calling you to do everything. He’s calling you to do the next thing.
Believing these truths is one thing. What I call “leaning into the truth” is another. Lean into these truths my friend. Today.
[reminder]Which of these lies is the loudest for you right now? What is another one that’s not on this list? [/reminder]