Years ago I heard a motivational speaker named Charles “Tremendous” Jones speak. One of the lines from the speech that has stayed in my mind for some forty years now since hearing him is “Your sidelines usually become your slidelines.” It doesn’t matter if you are talking about a church, a business or an individual one of the greatest challenge is to stay on the primary task or work of that group.
When Paul wrote Timothy the two letters to guide him in his ministry one of the primary challenges to Timothy was to stay on the right course. In 2 Timothy 2:1-5 he pleaded with him to not become entangled in the affairs of this life so he wouldn’t displease the one who called him as a soldier of Christ. In I Timothy 5:1-16 he talked especially about the whole work of the church and its mission. He warned that the church couldn’t do everything that people needed it to do. Sometimes our job is to encourage the family to take care of their own instead of stepping in to do what they can for themselves. The church needs to wait to help those widows who don’t have anyone else to take care of them. In Verse 16 as he concludes the whole point he said “If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.”
This whole thing reminds one of Jesus story of the sower, the seed and the soils as he said that one who had a heart like the thorny ground would receive the word and it would be choked out by the worries, riches and pleasures of this life. The entanglements of life often choke out the very things that make the most difference for good.
I suspect that when you look at the life of both Jesus and the apostle Paul it is the singleminded determination to fulfill their mission in the world that made both of them accomplish so much. Jesus ministry only lasted 3 and a half years yet he changed the world. He did it from a small area with a message that turned people’s lives completely around. Every time people tried to get him off course to do the things they wanted the result was he left their desires to do what God had called him to do. He would say over and over again, “I didn’t come to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” Even in the Garden of Gethsemane with the cross looming in the background, he prayed, “If it is possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done.” How often are we willing to go even to the cross God has for us to fulfill the mission God has for us?
With Paul the clear declaration from Philippians 3:14-16 was “This one thing I do. Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching toward what is before, I press toward the mark of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
What is that powerful mission God has for you? Are you so busy here and there that you can’t find the time or energy to do what is your real calling or mission? Most of us need to get rid of a few dozen side issues in life to be able to do what really matters. If we can learn that lesson for ourselves it will be amazingly more in reach for the church or business we are part of. The truth is for all of us the mission should be, “Not our will but His.”