When Mike and I started out in ministry over 30 years ago, advice written for clergy families focused on surviving life in the fishbowl. Those were the days when pastors’ families usually lived in a parsonage or manse that was either attached to the church or located nearby.
Mike’s Aunt Alice has a hilarious story dating back to the years when she and her husband Russ lived in an apartment in the back of a Methodist church in rural Pennsylvania. A door behind the organ in the back of the sanctuary led directly into their quarters, and early one Sunday morning Russ forgot to relock it after he left early to prepare for the service. Alice was ironing in their kitchen wearing nothing but her slip when a parishioner walked in looking to borrow utensils. “I didn’t mind living in a fishbowl,” laughs Alice, “but I preferred to do it with my clothes on!”
In this century families live in blenders rather than fishbowls. The problem is not with others watching us; it has more to do with keeping up with ourselves. I am constantly meeting women who are exhausted from the continual whirl of family, ministry, and work responsibilities. Our lives are running on high speed and we have little hope of either slowing down or catching up.
How many of you have more than one email account to monitor? How about Facebook postings to peruse, Linked In networking requests to approve, or tweets demanding to be reTwittered? Even email doesn’t move fast enough for some. Want to get a response from your kids? Better learn to text.
Technology has blurred the boundaries between night and day, work and home. Think you’re caught up when you leave the office at 5? Not when colleagues desperate to empty their own inboxes dump documents and dilemmas on your virtual desk all night long.
When we live life at blender speed, is there any “off” button? With so many needs to care for, how do we tend to the needs of our own souls?
I have a 3D concept that works pretty well (kinda, sort of) much of the time: DECIDE, DELEGATE, and DELETE.
- DECIDE what’s really important. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?
Greek, the language of the New Testament, uses two distinct words for our English concept of time. Chronos (where we get the word chronology) is clock time. Each of us has the same amount: 24 hours in a day. Kairos is human time, the time we make and take for our purposes.
Chronos is a given determined by God, but kairos is a moral choice we make each hour of the day. Daily I pray, “Lord, help me use my time wisely and well.” (Eph. 5:15-17).
- DELEGATE. I know – easy to say and hard to do. We fear we’re imposing when we ask others to handle responsibilities, or we think the task won’t be done right if it’s done at all. When we’re living life at blender speed it can seem easier just to do things ourselves.
But if toddlers can be trusted with certain tasks, so can big people. Delegation is key to mentoring and mothering both. How do we do it? By providing others the opportunity to do a task, the authority to carry it out, the skills or training necessary, and the accountability that comes with faithful follow-up.
- DELETE. Remember the old saying about home organization: “If in doubt, throw it out”?
It applies to more than possessions. A schedule crowded with dawn-to-dusk commitments leaves no room for the spiritual formation that takes place in our inner being. In her description of living for a time among the Amish, writer Sue Bender commented, “The Amish often leave a space, a seeming mistake in the midst of their well-thought-out plans, to serve as an opening to let the spirit in.”
Is living life at blender speed making you a little nauseous? Even blenders have different settings and slower speeds. Decide what God would have you and only you do in this season of your life. Delete other activities; delegate the rest.
Life pulses with opportunities, but we don’t have to embrace them all at one time.
How about you? Can you share your favorite Decide-Delegate – Delete tip?