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You Should Be Cheating Part 2

So, a couple weeks ago I started a series here called You Should Be Cheating.  You can read Part 1 to catch up.  The heart of this series is simply challenging leaders to consider the fact that we have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of resources, and when we live like we have more than we actually do we end up burnt out, overcommitted, or sacrificing the people we love for the sake of productivity.

I referenced Andy Stanley’s great little book called Choosing to Cheat, and began to lay out five principles that I think pave the way for healthy rhythms and rest and an ability to “cheat” on the right things in life.

The second principle of healthy cheating is simply this:

Live like Jesus owns your time, because he does.

There’s this passage of Scripture in Luke 6.  Jesus is carrying out his ministry in a culture that deeply understands rules, rituals, and expectations for productivity.  The Jewish world has a deep awareness that God set up rules when it came to Sabbath, and these rules spelled out a whole system that had been turned into legalistic assumptions.

So it’s in this world where we find Jesus making two conscious choices on the Sabbath–to eat grain they had just picked and to heal a man with a crippled hand.

Now, in my mind there is a certain beauty to these stories.  Imagine being in a small group with Jesus, taking a walk through the fields and grabbing a handful of grain kernels to eat and continuing your journey.  Then, imagine a man whose hand has been shriveled with deformity, and all at once Jesus asks him to stand up and stretch out his hand.  And it is healed.

And Jesus is criticized, by the religious elite, for breaking the Sabbath.  He utters these simple words:

“The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Now, I don’t live today with a set legalism to my periods of rest.  I don’t mind doing yard work or cleaning up the house on my days off.  But you know what I do?

I live like my time is owned by me.  I live, week in and week out, as if my productivity is dependent on my management.  I stress when there isn’t enough time and I worry that I can’t get it all done.  I pursue efficiency and avoid interruption and run myself ragged until “rest” becomes a consequence rather than a condition.

The Son of Man is still Lord of the Sabbath.

In reality, our time does not belong to us.  It is not owned by us and we do not even deserve it.  We can continue to live and function as if our way of doing things is the best way possible and the only way things will work out; and time and again we will crash, burn out, and wear out the ones around us who matter most in this life because of our constant pace.

So, in choosing to cheat we must learn to learn to live like Jesus owns our time.

Because he does.

What would it take for you to surrender your time?  What would it mean for you to lean on his rhythm rather than your own?  What would happen if you reoriented your schedule to truly enjoy a period of Sabbath each and every single week?

As I’m sitting here, there is a beckon to stop blogging and return to what I was doing.  You see, in about 3 weeks I have my comprehensive exams for the PhD program I’m pursuing.  And in this pursuit, the beckon to keep reading, keep studying, keep driving is more endless than anything I’ve ever studied.  But this choice to reflect, to read the stories of Jesus and let him remind me that he’s in control of my time, has brought a greater deal of peace than I’ve had in weeks.  So for what it’s worth… my own shriveled hands (or over-studied brain) has suddenly found a bit of healing on this somewhat quiet morning… simply because I chose to cheat.

When Delicious Sits Right in Front of You

There’s this moment in this wedding I performed a few weeks ago.  I’m sitting at the reception, at a dinner table with the family of the bride, waiting for one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten.  I didn’t know it was going to be an amazing steak, I just knew my duties in the wedding were over and as with most people who go solo to a wedding I was wishing my wife or kids were there, because then I’d at least have someone to sip wine or dance with in these long silent moments waiting on food.

But then this moment happened.

Truth be told I was kind of at the family table and kind of at the kids’ table.  To my left and right were each seated a four-year old.  One boy, one girl.  Both four.  Me in the middle.  Then, a couple grandparents and the bride’s mom and dad.

And this moment.

It happened to my left.  The four-year old boy.  I caught him out of the corner of my eye.  He was staring down the plastic-wrapped gourmet candy apple that the family had decorated each place setting with.  And I’m not kidding, it was gourmet.  Big and round and drizzled in three kinds of chocolate with nuts and goodness.  This kid was licking his chops like Jaws at the Golden Corral.  And he had no idea what was happening around him.

He missed the first dance.
And the clinking glasses calling for romantic kisses.
And the epic city lights sparkling down over the mountain as these friends and families shared a magical celebration in the life of this young couple.

He saw none of it.

But he saw the deliciousness right in front of him and he knew his grandma had told him he wasn’t allowed it to eat it until tomorrow and he realized the sun was no longer out and it felt later than he’d ever stayed up and the city was bright and the night was dark and so he uttered these words that no one but me heard…

“Is it tomorrow yet?”  

Is it tomorrow yet?  What a brilliant question.  This little guy with the ruffled shirt and loosened tie had had a long day and lost the concept of time as he knew it, but he never lost sight of the deliciousness in front of him.  And it kept him going.

The great tensions of leadership we all face can cause us to drift away from the deliciousness in front of us.  The wrestling against time, pressure, conflict, team struggles, burnout, balance, and more can pull our eyes off our plate and into the sweeping city of tension around us.

But the deliciousness is still there.

The vision, the momentum, the next steps… they never disappear, we just lose sight of them.

So what about you?  What’s the deliciousness you see?  Or the deliciousness you used to see?  What would it mean to forget what’s happening around you and reconnect with that big, juicy apple that’s already on your plate?

Because guess what, it’s almost tomorrow.