I have long been a student of productivity. I don’t remember making lists of things to do growing up, but I had not been in ministry long before realizing there were many things to remember that would be forgotten if not written down. I collected numerous ideas, way, way too many to accomplish in any one day and so there had to be a way to prioritize them. I learned a method that involved writing out a new list every day. That was cumbersome. For a class in seminary, trying to get better at this, I chose to write a paper on the subject of time management, but turned it in one month late! I wish I was making that up.
Eventually software became available for managing tasks. After acquiring such software, I learned I could type new tasks and ideas out quickly and didn't have to re-enter them every day. But there is a tremendous downside to this. You can quickly collect hundreds of things to do, which is ridiculous. No one can focus on that many things to do. More than once I’ve grown a list like that only to give up in frustration and start over because there was no way I could focus on that many things.
I don’t want to ever give up on trying to get better at this. I’m encouraged at having set some targets for the first three months of this year. I’m going to run in a 10k for the first time at the Monument Avenue 10k in April. Getting ready for that is keeping me on track physically. I’ve long had aggressive reading goals because I need the challenge reading provides. This week I read a book called The Forgotten God by Francis Chan. Reading that book about the Holy Spirit provoked an old question: How can a person rely on the Holy Spirit to empower them to effectively serve God, against the expectations they or others place on themselves to get a lot of things done? The short answer is we both totally rely on the Holy Spirit and we work hard. We must learn to be aware, to trust, and to call on the presence of the Holy Spirit within us to empower us. We also have a responsibility to work with all diligence, offering our best, and sharpening the skills we need to do our work, our serving, and our caring.
Sunday’s message at Bethany Place from Revelation 3:7-13 will also provide an opportunity to probe this dynamic between relying on God and overtly exerting effort to follow Him. I can’t wait to share what God is drilling into my heart this week from this passage. I hope to see you there or that you can listen online when that becomes available. You can see the text and the initial outline below.
Are We There Yet
Ear Training Part 6
1. Find encouragement in Jesus regardless of opposition
Revelation 3:7–9 (ESV) 7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 “ ‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.
2. Maintain the unique perspective that hardship brings
Revelation 3:10–11 (ESV) 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
3. Develop a longing for what God has promised
Revelation 3:12–13 (ESV) 12 The one who conquerrs, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’