“When we get through Easter, I’ll have more time for my family.” “Things are crazy busy… but it’s just for a season.” “If we just had more staff I could spend more time in prayer”. In my years as a local church pastor, I have played the “victim card” many times.
There have been times when I was playing the victim card and my wife would stop me in mid-sentence. She would say “it never changes. There is always another season.” Even when I would defend myself, deep down I knew she was right.
There is a passage of Scripture that has been helpful to me in my struggle with over-commitment and a heavily-scheduled calendar.
In Deuteronomy 30 the chapter begins by Moses challenging the people of Israel to return to God and the life of blessing that awaits them if they would turn back to God. Moses declares the hope and promise of prosperity, peace, and spiritual life if they would repent.
Then Moses makes an interesting statement. He says, Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it (Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NIV).
It’s not too difficult. It’s not out of reach. It is near. There is hope in those verses. We have access to it. No matter what your background or life circumstance, this life of blessing is available to you. One of the best days you will ever have is the day you take responsibility for your own life and the health of your soul.
It’s not up to my spouse, it’s not up to my elder board, and it’s not up my best friend. I can’t blame it on society, my past or how I was raised. I am responsible for my own life and health (physial, emotional, and spiritual).
We live in a fast paced, 24/7 world. It doesn’t matter if you are in a small church or large church, small town or big city, the pace of life has continued to accelerate. It can be both intoxicating and toxic at the same time.
In my own journey I often made choices that damaged my soul, my health, and my relationships. It has been easy to blame those choices on my circumstances, season of life, expectations or even good opportunities.
But the truth is, NO one was holding a gun to my head. I had choices! Even if it meant disappointing a church member or not getting something done, I had a choice. Linger over this for a few moments. Are you playing the victim? What choices are you making that are self-destructive?
Later on in chapter 30:19 Moses will say to the people of Israel “now choose life.” It’s a CHOICE. It seems like a no brainer. But how often do we choose ways that are destructive and damaging?
You must take responsibility to manage your soul and take care of your physical and emotional health. You have one life. As you plan your month, don’t forget the words of Moses “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”
Lance Witt is the founder of Replenish Ministries, an organization devoted to ministering pastors to help them become healthy, holy, and humble. He also serves as the Pastor for Strategic Development at Thomas Road Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. replenish.net