If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, or if you’ve heard Regi tell his story, you know that when he was a young buck, his primary focus was on what he could accomplish at work. He wanted to go as far as he could, as fast as he could. It wasn’t until the wake up call from his wife that he realized how foolish that was. Having nowhere else to turn, he turned to God, who shifted his focus from accomplishment to relationships . . . with his wife, with his kids, with his friends and most importantly with God.
Since I started working at Radical Mentoring, I’ve heard him tell that story countless times. And I’ve seen it click for countless guys who are ‘heat seekers’ like him. It’s undoubtedly a powerful story, but I used to have a hard time relating it to my life. I’m not a workaholic trying to go far or fast . . . I work for Radical Mentoring and my focus is on accomplishing things for our organization, for the church, for God, not for myself. Hold on. Lightbulb. There’s the connection.
For much of my mature life, my focus was on living a life of significance. Doing things that matter, that make a difference. Much like Regi, I was focused on accomplishment, it was just a different type, and mine seemed more socially acceptable . . . at least in ‘Christian world.’
But also, much like Regi’s old perspective, this posture totally misses the point of following Jesus. I was reminded of this recently as I reread some of Skye Jethani’s book With: Reimaging the Way You Relate to God. Jethani calls this way of relating to God, “Life for God.” People who relate to God this way place the mission of God above God Himself . . . they place doing things for God above spending time with God.
Think back to the story of the prodigal son. We so often think of that story as the story of the ‘bad’ son who came back to his father, but we forget about the other son. I find that son much more relatable. He stayed behind, serving and obeying his father, but he was as equally uninterested in a relationship with his father as the son who left.
Growing up in church and being a leader at church, this “Life for God” posture was subconsciously incorporated into my thinking. For years, I desired to accomplish things for God and was disappointed in myself when I failed or didn’t try. I used to pray, “God, make my greatest fear living an insignificant life.” My intentions were good, but my prayer should have been, “God, make my greatest fear missing out on You.”
It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially for those in positions of leadership in and around the church. We get so busy doing things for God, we forget that what He wants most is for us to know how much He loves us and for us to be with Him.
Our mission is important . . . it’s absolutely from God. But it isn’t most important. God Himself is.
Jethani reminds, “[The apostle] Paul could be filled with joy in prison while not accomplishing anything tangibly for God.” Even though he undeniably accomplished a lot, Paul’s purpose wasn’t found in what he was accomplishing, as he tells us in Philippians 3:8, it was found in knowing God. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
If you’re all wrapped up in doing things for God, pivot. Redirect. Decide to first be with Him. From His presence in you, you’ll be renewed in your strength to pursue what you’re doing for Him.
Scripture: Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
Mentor Tip: Mentors, I can’t recommend highly enough that you read and use the book With with your guys. I would do it in the early months, help them identify which posture they most live from and then throughout the rest of the season, model for them and point them towards a life with God.
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