Lasting Keys to a Fruitful—Not Busy—New Year

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Have you ever had words stick with you? Maybe it was the encouragement of your father or the sweet words of a grandparent before they passed away. However, what about those words that remain in a negative way? They can serve to motivate or destroy.

I never forget hearing these words as a young man: "You don't want to work; you're too lazy." In high school I was student council president, captain of the track team, band member and worked as well. "Lazy" wasn't in my vocabulary. However, these words stuck with me, driving me to achieve, but also leading me to an unhealthy place of workaholism.

At times people say the same thing about pastors. The conversations usually go like this:

"Pastor, I wish I had your job."

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"Why is that?"

"Well you know, you only work one day out of the week, right?"

There have been many times I have worked to prove and achieve instead out of my love for the Lord. Busyness does not equate to fruitfulness or godliness. The lifestyle of busyness leads to unwarranted stress, anxiety and an identity that is wrapped in what you do, not who you belong to.

I often wonder is the root of most of our anxiety, stress and worry simply coming from trying to prove to everyone what we can achieve and how we can perform? Remember Jesus' words to us in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing." Our source of life comes from the Lord and without his life flowing through us we have no life at all. The truth is, the people we are trying to prove the most to, most likely aren't thinking about us. People think the most about themselves. If the Lord has only asked me to abide, and rest and trust in Him, who am I to try and do more than that?

This is not a call to sit on our hands, but one that says instead of working our fingers to the bone, we can rest. In this rest, our work then overflows out of our love for the Lord. As we go into 2018, here are several things we can do to break this cycle of approval.

Just Say No

For some of us, "no" needs to become our favorite word. If I am honest, I say yes more than no, and many times my family and I suffer for it. Now I am not saying you never say yes, but are you truly utilizing your time to focus on those things that are important or simply immediate? Saying no will allow you the freedom to set boundaries for your time and allow you to then prioritize those things that are important instead of immediate.

Plan Time Off

I am guilty of "sort of taking time off." One Thanksgiving, I scheduled a week off and still planned meetings with people. This was such a bad example for my wife and kids, with whom I should have been spending planned time. Do we believe it is indeed God's church and He will build it?

Ask for Help

Even Superman had the Justice League. Yet, we often try to go this ministry journey alone. We become the media, set-up, prayer, and preaching teams and wonder why we are so frustrated.

When was the last time you asked for help, first praying to the Lord and then seeing who He has placed around you? We must be careful that in our desire to serve the Lord, we don't allow others to join us on the journey. I don't think we are often honest when we say there is no one who can help. It may not be the people you most desire, but great leaders use who the Lord provides.

Find Your Identity in Christ

If God in his providence led me in a different direction and I found myself no longer pastoring, life would go on, and I would have to as well. Our identity and worth can't be found in our vocation or achievements. The one constant in our lives as followers of Christ is the new life He has given us. According to Ephesians 2:10a, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works." For some of us, it could be our finances, education or position. However, only Christ will last. Let us find our value, worth and identity in Christ alone.

As we head into 2018, could it be that doing less is actually doing more? Instead of trying to prove that you are not lazy, abide in the Lord, work from a place of rest and trust. We have nothing to prove, only a God to serve, who loves us as His children and desires to see us live fruitful, not busy lives.

This article originally appeared at lifeway.com.

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