Can you pencil me in? -Sincerely, God
A couple of years ago my mother bought me a planner called the “Do it All Mommy Planner.” I have used a planner since as far back as I can remember. In fact, where most people tend to have social media memes to share how they can’t function without their favorite coffee or latte, I literally can’t function without my planner. And please don’t try to write in my planner because I will find the necessary superpowers from somewhere to zap you.
It’s my life, it’s where I balance our sometimes hectic schedule, create my grocery lists, write important notes, and input things I need to follow up on. A month ago, my 2-year-old toddler discovered my planner and thought it was a great idea to create a scribbled masterpiece of art through the whole month of August. Yes, I could have zapped him. But it was in that moment I realized that is exactly what our schedules and ministry meetings look like to God when he is left on the side lines vying for a place to be penciled into our everyday lives. Scribble.
God is Greater Than your To-Do List
Most of the time my life seems hurried and somewhat mundane. From seeing our son off to school, preparing class materials for our toddler, running an online boutique, scheduling meetings, coordinating family time, cheering at soccer games, bringing dinner to family get-togethers, trying to secure a viable renter for our home in Kentucky to finding time to spend with God alone. Many times, our calendars get filled, and our devotional time with the Lord gets sacrifice or minimized. E.M. Bounds says it best, “We are all in danger of substituting church work and a ceaseless round of showy activities for prayer.” One must realize that our to-do lists can’t be sufficiently accomplished without an ardent devotional life with the Lord.
Luke 10:38-42, gives us a great example of how valuable our devotion is to God. In this scripture, we find two sisters Martha and Mary who opened up their home to host Jesus. One was distracted by all of the things on her to-do list to create the best dinner party she could have for Jesus while the other was unconcerned and captivated with sitting in His presence and listening to Him talk. Martha, obviously frustrated because her sister Mary was not getting anything done or helping her with the preparations, asked the Lord to step in and do something. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40). The Lord tells her He is not going to interrupt Mary’s time with Him because in His eyes her sitting at His feet is greater than what is on the to-do list.
Devotion is a Personal Pursuit
I believe God desires to restore the hearts of His chosen leaders to be hearts of steadfast devotion. Devotion is not a corporate experience, it’s a personal pursuit. There’s so much to be gained when God is allowed on your calendar. What once was scribble becomes direction, strategy, strength, and grace for the task at hand. God gives wisdom and discernment during times of devotion that keeps our hearts grounded on what He has called us to do. Devotion leads our wayward and overwhelmed hearts right where they belong sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Whether it’s developing a study habit of reading His Word, setting a consistent time to pray and commune with God or fasting to usher your heart back to a place of devotion. Just Do It! Because God says it’s greater than all of the other things on your calendar.
"Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)
Larincia and Hervera Hambrick are the Lead Pastors of Real Life Church in urban St. Louis along with their two sons Josiah and Gabriel. Real Life Church will launch in 2018. Along with being a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God, Pastor Larincia is the successful business owner of I am Destined to Reign Boutique. Larincia founded her jewelry boutique in order to connect women with the latest fashion trends and provide resources to help them grow spiritually with the Lord. Larincia is also in the process of writing a book titled, ” I am Destined to Reign” which is expected to be released in 2018. This article was posted by SMD Church Planting and Development in September, 2017.
Correction vs. Criticism
I walked away from that conversation completely broken and hurt. 2 situations handled 2 different ways. One life-giving; the other one crippling. Discipline can be difficult to maneuver, whether you are giving it or receiving it.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained in it.”
As followers of Christ, we are called to gently correct (2 Timothy 2:25) and gently restore (Galatians 6:1); we are not called to criticize and accuse. Harsh criticism is destructive; gentle correction is empowering.
Here are some ways to offer discipline gently:
1. CHECK YOUR MOTIVES.
Phil 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” Is your motive to discipline someone self-serving or team-affirming? Is it to make you look good, and prove that you’re the leader and they’re not? Is it to prove you’re “Parent of the Year” by disciplining your kid in the middle of a meltdown at the grocery store, or is it to help shape your child’s heart and character? Before we correct someone, let's make sure it's to help shape their success and not simply to expose their faults.
2. COME FROM A PLACE OF HUMILITY.
Proverbs 22:4 says, “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” The best leaders don’t lead from pride of a title, they lead from humility of a servant’s heart. Phrase your words in a way that makes the other person feel encouraged, not discouraged.
3. CHANGE IF NEEDED.
Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Are the results of your discipline positive or negative? If the person you disciplined seems like the wind has been knocked out of them…find out why and improve the situation. If they seem like they have fresh wind in their sails…you did it well. When I discipline my children with anger and accusations, they walk away defeated with temporary behavior modification. When I discipline my children in love, they walk away with good attitudes and a true heart change. The same applies in the workplace, ministry, and relationships. Let's be wise and kind, not reckless and mean.
If you’ve been broken or hurt from being disciplined harshly, I am so sorry. Here are some ways to turn that criticism into something positive:
1. CHOOSE TO NOT CARRY OFFENSE.
(I know; easier said than done.) Proverbs 12:1 says, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Even if you were incorrectly or unjustly criticized, choosing forgiveness allows healing and restoration. Turn the harshness that was meant to destroy you into a platform designed to empower you.
2. CHOOSE FLEXIBILITY.
Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” If someone flags an area where you can improve, listen and take action. Redirect the destructive comments against you into constructive results for you.
3. CHOOSE TO LEARN FROM IT.
Proverbs 15:32 says, “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Improve your leadership skills by not repeating your mistakes.
Mishandling discipline by either criticizing or carrying offense can cripple our purpose and calling. Let’s be leaders that create and foster healthy environments versus toxic ones. Let’s be leaders that encourage and challenge others to be the best they can be. Ultimately, it’s all for the advancement of God’s kingdom and the demonstration of His love through our lives, relationships, careers, and ministries.
Karen Harmon is a wife, homeschooling mother, and physical therapist. She is active in her church serving in worship, small groups, and media. You can connect with Karen on her website, Instagram, or Facebook. This article was posted at Propel Women in January, 2017.
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