No one is immune to the many demands of life. Everyone has a busy season.
You would think the more active we are the more we would rely on God. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. When the demands of ministry, work, family, and more weigh on us we often lean more on our own understanding.
This is why groups are absolutely vital for spiritual growth. Who else is going to reflect our priorities back to us? How else are we to get an accurate measure of how we are living life? It is only the power of community that can support us in this way.
At the time of this article’s writing we are quickly approaching Christmas. It seems like this time of year is everyone’s busy season. Are your group members holding each other accountable for clinging to the values of Scripture in this busy season?
Below is a helpful resource for group leaders and members to hold important conversations about these Scriptural principles. How are you doing in these three areas? How are your church’s groups doing in these areas? Consider sharing this resource to begin a dialogue.
When something is important we often have the funny tendency to speak more than listen. During a listening exercise in our church’s marriage ministry a husband told his group, “This is the first time I’ve fully listened to what my wife was saying without thinking about the next thing I was going to say!”
There are important times for us to speak. God’s word invites us to share our testimony, encourage others, pray to Him, etc. However, we cannot afford to lose the value of silence. Only in silence can we wait for God and truly hear Him as He intends. Psalm 62:5 proclaims, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
We also have a tendency to get ourselves in hot water when we speak too much or too soon. Unfortunately, busy seasons invite these practices. Scripture warns against the overuse of words as in James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” How often we get it the other way around when we are rushed! Silence affords us protection against hurdles like this. Even if our heart is in the wrong place, it is often wise to err on the side of silence since, “even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Proverbs 17:28).
When faced with a challenge or struggle we often reflexively rely upon our own judgement and abilities. Eve ate the apple when tempted. When walking on water, Peter looked away from Jesus before sinking. Similarly, we tend to grasp at our own conceived solutions without God at times. How are you doing at following the wisdom of Psalm 127:1-2? “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” The bread of anxious toil is no good. It cannot sustain us like the bread of life.
In busy seasons it seems paradoxical to surrender. We want to advance, win, and tie up loose ends. The world tells us to go, go, go, but James tells you to, “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). When we stop charting our own course, He will show us the one we should really be on.
Probably the hardest value to uphold in a busy season is stillness. Most hectic seasons are busy for good reasons. Celebrations, grand openings, transitions, moving on, and moving up all take time and effort. We become misled into believing more action means better outcomes. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes we would do well to listen to the Psalmist who says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The Israelites, filled with fear probably wanted to run or fight. But Moses encouraged them, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14). Can you imagine how conflicting that must have felt? And yet it was key to moving forward.
Sometimes we stop out of fear. Sometimes we stop out of exhaustion. However, God wants us to stop out of worship. He told Job, “Stop and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:14). The living God who created the universe has moved heaven and earth and ransomed His only son. He did it to be in relationship with us. Whatever busy season we face pales in comparison to what He has done for us.
These values look good on paper, but they can seem counterintuitive in the moment. Community is vital in supporting values like these in the midst of a busy life. Continue to give and receive support to follow God’s plans for our lives.
This post was originally written for smallgroupnetwork.com on December 13, 2016.