The Power to Think and Choose
Most Christians are familiar with the story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, who hosted Jesus and His disciples one day in their home (Luke 10:38-42). Martha demonstrated an action-oriented response of making all the preparations while Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to His word. Martha’s choice led to stress, frustration, and even a demanding spirit toward her sister, and toward Jesus. His words to her have echoed in millions of hearts over the last two millennia, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
All of us who know, love, and desire to serve Christ must make choices about how we are going to relate to Him. These choices have ramifications and not all choices carry the same eternal value. Misguided choices produce negative results like distraction, doubt, discontent, discouragement, and dilution of our efforts. The best choices secure well-being and fruitfulness along with eternally significant results.
Anyone in any role of leadership in the church soon learns that you cannot please everyone and you cannot do everything. It is not easy to say “no” to the expectations of people and the countless opportunities to do good things. Yet, “no” is a Christian word. I have learned that the power of “no” is in a stronger “yes.” Our “yes” commitments are the clear and vital priorities we embrace. One leader wrote, “A life in which anything goes will ultimately be a life in which nothing goes.”
Five Vital Priorities
Over the years of my pastoral journey the Lord helped me clarify five vital priorities that represented my “yes” commitments. Not only have these enabled me to say “no” to other demands but they represent the highest stewardship of my gifts and best expenditure of my efforts for the good of those I serve. If you are a pastor, yours may be different, but these might encourage you to find more clarity in your priorities. If you are not a pastor, let this guide you in praying for your pastoral leaders. And perhaps these will help you think deeply about your own priorities in life.
MAINTAIN AN EXEMPLARY LIFE – (1 Timothy 3:2–7; 4:12, 16; Acts 20–28; 1 Peter 5:3; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 4:9; Titus 2:7–8) This has to be first as I focus on my spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, marital, family, and relational health. Without it my credibility and ministry will fail. Example is my most powerful rhetoric.
MODEL A COMMITMENT TO PRAYER – (Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12, 9:28; 11:1; 22:39; Acts 1:14; 6:4, Romans 15:30; Colossians 1:3; 4:2) The prayer level of any ministry never rises any higher than the personal example and passion of the primary leader. I cannot point the way. I must lead the way if the church is to become “a house of prayer for all nations.”
MASTER THE STUDY OF GOD’S WORD – (1 Timothy 4:6, 13–15; 5:17; 2 Timothy 4:1–2; Acts 6:2) This conviction to “study to show myself approved” ultimately results in a depth of life that makes my message authentic. John Wesley said, “God’s word sets me on fire and people come to see me burn.” The Lord’s word to Ezekiel shapes this commitment: “Son of man, let all my words sink deep into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Then go to your people…” (Ezekiel 3:10-11, NLT).
MULTIPLY LEADERSHIP WITHIN THE CHURCH –(John 17:6–20; Acts 20:17-38; Ephesians 4:11–2; 2 Timothy 2:2) Leaders don’t just fall off trees. Spiritual leaders are only developed through intentional, biblical, and transparent equipping of their hearts and minds. I must be intentional and consistent in spending time investing in current and future leaders of the ministry, challenging them to grow, and providing meaningful interaction with God’s word and practical wisdom.
MOBILIZE THE CHURCH TOWARD MISSION – (Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 16:15; John 20:21; Acts 13:1-3; Philippians 3:12-17; 2 Timothy 4:5–8) “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Because “the Holy Spirit is the ‘how-to’ of ministry”, I must seek His mind, will, and direction for the work of Christ. I must involve others with me in extraordinary prayer, fasting, and full surrender of the future of the ministry to Him. As I lead this effort of discovering His mind and obeying His will, the Lord’s blessing will rest on our efforts.
The renowned management expert Peter Drucker said, “The two most important things anyone can do are to think and then do things in their order of importance.” Each of us must think biblically and clearly about the commitments that matter most. Each day we must order our efforts according to the best priorities for our unique identity, purpose, and calling.
It has been said that nothing is dynamic until it is specific. Get specific about your commitments. Write them out. Share them with the people who live, work, and minister with you. Choose the best things that will not be taken away from you in eternity.
Bernard Baruch wrote, “Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in private and public life have been the consequence of action without thought.” Let us be thoughtful, intentional, and focused in how we serve our Lord and His mission in this world every day.
Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.