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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.

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You Should Be Cheating Part 1

Andy Stanley wrote a great book called Choosing to Cheat.  In it, he makes the assumption that we all cheat certain things in life to achieve other things.  We don’t necessarily think of it as cheating, but we do.  For instance, when we avoid desert in order to lose weight we are cheating our appetite.  When we choose to not spend money on something we want, we are cheating our desires for the sake of our budget.  In his estimation, the large majority of people are often cheating their families by giving more to work than it deserves.  We are overworked, tired, and often completely out of balance.

Another writer says it this way:

“Workaholism is the most rewarded addiction in our society.”

Not long ago, I heard someone make the following statement:

“Often, if things are good at work we feel like they’re not at home.  And if they’re good at home we feel like they’re not at work.  We always feel like we could do better somewhere.”

For leaders today, a great tension exists in finding a balance between work life and home life.  It can be taxing to try to keep everything moving, achieve success, drive an organization forward, and still be home for family dinner.  Believe me, I get it.  I love the work I do; the problem is, there’s just often too much of it.  Leading a church, coaching and consulting, writing and studying, and working with a Community Development organization are just a few of the things that I pour into and that give me life.

The problem is, sometimes I allow the things of work to become my life.  And so I come home at night too tired to fully engage my family.  I start to shut down when I hit the couch instead of the bed.  I may be in one place, but my mind is in another.  And the result?  I cheat those around me that shouldn’t be cheated.

So, we all feel this right?  We all recognize the need for balance and health and time management?  But what do we do about it?  I want to take a few posts to spell out five things that I believe can help us learn to cheat in better ways.

1 – BE, don’t DO.

Simply put, the first way we learn to cheat in healthy ways is to recognize that we are human beings, not human doings.

This is perhaps the most difficult element of bringing healthy balance to our time and energy, because we live in a culture that bases our worth on what we do and not always on who we are.  I constantly fight the pressure and feelings of inadequacy based on my own performance and status.  Here are just a few of the lies that build a “DO” mentality in me rather than a “BE” mentality:

  • If my church is bigger, I’m better.
  • If I make more money, I’m worth more.
  • If my kids don’t have any problems, I’m a successful dad.
  • If I work more, I’ll produce more.
  • If I hold it all together, I’m building a legacy.

The reality is these are just what I said–LIES.

We are made, created, and designed to BE.  God never in Scripture says He judges the worth of his creation on its ability to do stuff.  Instead, he calls us children, sons and daughters adopted and loved… embraced and healed to embrace and heal.  And we cannot DO these things as long as we’re caught up in our own doing.

The thing is, none of this is probably new thinking for you.  Most of us have heard this conversation before.  The question though, is how do we do it?  How do we rest in our being and not our doing?  Here are a few ideas I’m trying to build into my own life…

  • Let Sabbath become a rhythm and a discipline.  I’ll say more about this in coming posts, but the discipline of rest is a reminder that this world will go on without you.  You can’t learn to BE if you don’t learn to REST.
  • Play well.  Right in line with the idea of rest is an idea of play.  Find things you love, things that bring you joy, things that you can laugh at with your family, and make time for those things.  Yesterday I wandered the woods hunting for deer with a gun in my hand.  I didn’t stress, I didn’t plan, and I didn’t worry.  Because I was playing just like I did when I was 8 years old with a toy rifle in my hand.
  • Turn things off.  Disconnect.  Turn off your e-mail, your texts, your calls, etc.  I set my phone on do not disturb from 10 pm to 8 am, and the simple knowledge of that allows me to rest more than I usually do.
  • Invest in relationships.  Spend time and money with people.  Find ways to share meals with friends.  Learn to slow the pace of life by inviting others into it.  When you do this, you’ll be allowing other messy people to mess up your schedule and slow down your production, and while it may be stressful at first, somewhere in that journey you’ll realize you were made for mess and life is more full because of this slower pace.

I’m praying for you this week.  And I’m praying for me.  Praying that we all may learn to BE a little more than we DO.