Last week was a really good week for me in language. I felt like I remembered a lot more and I could get more out during my lessons. But to be honest, something felt off. I just couldn’t be super happy about my “good” week.
As I look back on last week’s activities, I realized I didn’t take full advantage of this great language week (that may or may not continue) by talking a lot more in the community to meet new people and further relationships. As I reflected on this, I, who hate excuses, did exactly that: made excuses. And as a result, I honestly don’t have much to show for my week. So here are 3 of my excuses and why they really aren’t plausible excuses.
[In My Head] Learning a language and living where it’s hard to communicate because you don’t know the language is very draining. Plus I have a couple projects going on. I have meetings at work and to be honest I was just too tired to go out and try and meet new people and go out of my way to talk a lot to the ones I do know.
[In Reality] This is the wrong attitude. I should be looking at the people as a life and death situation. Because really, that’s what it is. Life and death. Eternal life and death. So what if I’m a little tired and feel like I need a nap. Minister first; nap second. There’s always time for rest after dark when no one is out (especially since the sun is setting earlier).
//Being tired didn’t hold me back. Resting at convenient time for me held me back//
I don’t have time.
[In My Head] I’ve been pretty busy this week. Between work, meetings, and language study, I feel like I didn’t have much spare time. Yet somehow, I managed to find the time to read, play a few games with my housemates and make a quick video for the blog.
[In Reality] This problem comes down to priorities. I was putting myself ahead of others. I was filling my time with things I wanted to do or liked rather than filling it with people that need me to show them who God is and the love and hope He has for them.
//Not having time didn’t hold me back. Failing to set my priorities held me back//
I’m not that kind of person.
[In My Head] Let’s face it. I’m an introvert. I hate initiating conversations. This is hard for me in English so just think how hard it is for me in a language I don’t speak well. The only thing I hate more than going up to strangers is going up to strangers and trying to start a conversation with them. I’m just not the kind of person who can do that easily and I just couldn’t do it this week.
[In Reality] Really, I’m not that kind of person. But that’s who I have to be. I’m not the one who should be labeling who I am. God is the one who defines me. And I should be looking to Him to see who I should be. And that’s who God wants me to be right now – an extrovert. So I need to just suck up the boundaries I’ve drawn for myself and go talk to someone I don’t know. When I draw the boundaries, I am only limiting God and how much He can use me. I’m not the one who should be labeling who I am. God is the one who defines me.
//The problem isn’t that I’m not “that kind of person,” but forgetting that is who God is calling me to be right now held me back//
These are three excuses I made this week that kept me from having an awesomely productive week in ministry. As I look at them though, I feel like they are common excuses that I’ve heard myself and other people make numerous times, whether we are ministering to people overseas or in North America. But I feel like all excuses (including these) boil down to one thing that keeps us from being 100% productive 100% of the time. Focus. Where is your focus?
As I reflect on last week, I realize my focus was on myself. What I was feeling or who I thought I was or what I wanted to do with my time. I was being selfish and only thinking of me. I wanted to rest when it was convenient for me not for others. I wanted to fill my schedule and time with me in mind, not the lost around me. I wanted to fall back to my introvertness where I am most comfortable instead of me being the uncomfortable one and helping others to be comforted in Christ.
My focus should have been on God. If it had, I would have
–seen that He would have provided rest for me as He saw fit.
–set my schedule according to what He wanted to accomplish through me.
–focused on and pursued His desire for me to be an extrovert as I reach out to the community.
As I begin a new week, I want to do better than last week. I want to be super productive in working for the Lord. And I challenge you to do the same. As we intentionally reach out to friends, family, and strangers around us this week, each morning, ask yourself:
Where is my focus? It is on me? Or is it on God?
If we keep our focus on God, we will lose our excuses and find productive days, weeks, months, years, and lives instead.
Don’t let tomorrow slip away. Work for God today. If we let tomorrow slide a little, it is so easy to let the next day slide a little more and the next and the next. You don’t want to get to the end of your life and see that you lived it for yourself and followed God’s will only when it fit in to what you wanted and how you felt.
Like Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say,” I used everything you gave me.”
Where are you going to put your focus this week? On yourself? Or on God?
Learn from my mistake: Don’t be selfish. Focus on God.