A Community That Challenges...and Fills.
“Many people are good at talking about what they are doing, but in fact do little. Others do a lot but don't talk about it; they are the ones who make a community live.”
In last week’s blog I talked about the tension we all feel as we exhaust ourselves by filling our schedules, while still needing to find intentional space to give of ourselves completely to our communities.
The balance I am looking for is somewhere between doing what we are called to do each day with excellence, while also making sure we are not holding back from our communities because we are exhausted from all the excellence we have accomplished in the week. (Some days I wonder why I don’t just write about “4 Signs Your BFF is The Best".....)
What I love about community is that everyone sees it differently. Each individual in a community brings a unique understanding and approach to life. Without that person the community would lose that unique perspective and continue to function, but with less overall fullness of character. So when we think about how to balance this tension there will be very different and unique answers. The goal in this thought exercise is not to find ways we all agree upon, but to find ways that are meaningful to each of us and help us all lead God honoring lives.
One way we can balance this tension is by scheduling ourselves less during the week. I heard an anecdote the other day that said 85% of what we do, anyone could do...so 85% of what I spend my time on, any one of you reading this could do just the same. Another 10% of what I do, anyone with a little more training could also do. That last 5% of what I do only I can uniquely do. If you're like me, you're automatically skeptical when percentages are thrown your way but I think it represents something well - how much time am I devoting to that 5% versus the 85%? The 5% is where I am going to maximize what God has uniquely called me to. Within that 85% there are things I need to learn to say “no” to. Things that I have somehow convinced myself I have to do or no one else will.
Another way we can balance this tension is by reevaluating what our time looks like as a community. In other words, are we being intentional when we do get together? I’m not suggesting that every time you get together with your friends you should have a Bible study...but how often do we sit around a living room and have conversations with no substance? Or watch a game with little interaction other than talking about the game? Listen, I get it, these moments are part of what makes having a real community great: You can be yourself, you can watch a game and it not have to mean something. However, I wonder how much of our hearts often long more for things that do mean something and instead we fill it with white noise.
Lastly, I think we have to constantly take stock of the rhythm to our lives. I can’t tell you how many weeks I look at my schedule and shrug my shoulders thinking “well, it all has to get done so I guess this week I’ll just not have any margins.” Soon enough that becomes my baseline rhythm. Instead, I should be looking at my week and seeing the planned breaks in the rhythm - breakfast with some guys I meet with regularly to challenge and grow together...slow Sunday lunch with my wife...a two hour block during the week where I turn my phone off and spend time in scripture...the designated night (or two...or three…) where I get in bed at a reasonable hour...All of us read a list like this and think “if only!” and then do nothing to figure out how to make it happen (me included...some of the things I listed I haven’t made time for in the past month!) But these breaks in the rhythm help shake us out of what we are draining ourselves over, and filling us with the life that comes from being intentional and devoted to others. It starts when you sit down and schedule it.
I’m writing this because I need to remind myself of it as much as I want to challenge you in it. Help me grow by challenging me to balance this tension. Help me grow by living as an example and loving those around you well while protecting your own heart, soul and body.
What decisions can you make this week to better balance the tension of investing in those around you while protecting yourself from doing too much?