I am reminded time and time again in Scripture that God is the Ultimate Initiator, creating opportunities for us to know and experience Him more. We don’t “make things happen” for Him. He makes things happen, and He honors us with the invitation to be a part of HIS perfect plans and to share in HIS story, insights, riches, connections, abundance, and faithful love.
So where does that leave me? I’m Learning to rest more and learning to quit carrying the heavy burden of making my goals and God-given assignments fall into place by my own initiatives and connections. This flies in the face of many things culture teaches us! Sadly, this even flies in the face of things I’ve been taught in Christian ministry culture too…
The philosophy of most industries, both secular and Christian, is this: If you will work harder than anyone- wake up earlier, stay longer, over-perform, be a “yes man”, exhaust your connections, and complete an endless checklist of “shoulds”- you will rise above the pack and succeed in your goals and dreams!
… As if there is no God influencing circumstances on your behalf. As if you must fill every hole, because there couldn’t possibly be a Savior standing in your gaps. As if God would call you to do something, then cease to open any doors nor orchestrate any opportunities.
My name is Elizabeth Whitley, and this is the story of the past year of my life.
I’ve always believed in God’s provision… but I’ve also fallen prey to some of the “self-made”, “self-help”, “get discovered” messages, which tend to over-state the value of our image and performance. They reduce friendships to “networking opportunities” and treat our callings like cut-throat competitions. Meanwhile, they under-state the importance of rest, breaks, and having a life. (Not every expert in this space does this, of course! The ones who do often lean on the side of motivational, big-picture, full-throttle thinking, and simply lack a sense of being practical, constructive, and realistic.)
I bought in. I adopted the endless list of duties I needed to perform and connections I needed to make in order to fulfill my God-given potential. I combined the overbearing instruction of others with my own anal sense of obligation to create a never-ceasing “course of action”… one that hung over my head, scolding me every time I even thought about taking a break, watching a movie, or enjoying a vacation! Because there is always one more thing I could be doing or connection I could be making in order to reach my God-given potential!
Though I am typically thought of as a well-balanced person, I looked at my life recently and realized that I’m ALWAYS on the go, but I NEVER feel like I’m doing enough…
Unfortunately, my belief in the power of my own performance and output left very little room for me to acknowledge this truth- My striving is next to insignificant when compared to God’s pre-purposed initiatives and unstoppable will to provide for the dreams and assignments He gives.
Perhaps you read this and think, “Yep, this is me! I too am a busyness addict.” You’ve believed the lie that your constant efforts are endlessly necessary.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of obsessive doing in a world of technology, where almost anything can be done at any time! We feel as though we have no excuse to NOT be doing, reacting, initiating, or responding. We can easily be reached, interrupted, and distracted by new ideas, plans, and pressing matters. Other people, and even our own flesh, can easily feel entitled to our most immediate attention and efforts.
Scripture supports and advocates hard work and initiative. Simultaneously, Scripture advocates rest and a peaceful, joyful dependency on God to work everything out.
When it comes to our “God-given potential”, remember this: God does not just give the potential and then abandon us to provide our own means of arriving there. Rather, He provides the potential PLUS divine appointments, connections, and resources needed to reach it.
I share my recent inner struggle because, like me, some of you may need to break ties with your addiction to busyness, your anal sense of obligation, & your frantic state of doing. If you need permission to let go of the things you can’t control and let God stand in your gaps, then here is your invitation to freedom…
May you and I commit to hard work by outlining reasonable expectations, challenges, and endeavors, and then leave the outcomes up to God! May we NOT waste our physical strength, emotional energy, and mental capacity on things we can’t control, but rather, reserve them for the things we can create and change. May we learn to truly rest and disconnect when it’s time, knowing that rest is just as important to our work as working is itself.