But we Christian workers employed by churches and nonprofit ministries face a subtle but very real temptation when it comes to our time, namely:
We’re willing to work endless extra hours without compensation for our own ministry or cause…
…but what about donating our time to organizations and causes other than our own?
“Well, yeah, but…” we want to splutter and mutter with every fiber of our overworked beings. “The last thing I need is to spend more time doing ministry. I need to spend more time with my family, and relaxing, and…”
Oh, agreed. Absolutely. No worries–I’m not talking about us adding more hours to our days.
I’m talking about us transferring part of our precious limited daily allotment of minutes away from the ministry jobs we get paid for…
…and toward ones we don’t.
Just as the Sabbath reminds us that God gets along just fine without our labor when we rest one day in seven, giving away an increasing percentage of time without compensation outside of our ministry orgs means that God’s gotta step up and fill that irreplaceable gap that is us when we’re not there.
That was sarcastic, by the way.
Freely offering God our time in the causes that move His heart other than the cause to which our own ministry is called does two other very important things:
- It reminds us that we are called to be comprehensively formed in the likeness of Christ…not simply well-trained (and well-paid!) specialists committed to one organization.
- It reminds us that God’s passions are broader than our own organization. It’s a healthy thing when we realize that our own church or organization isn’t the center of the universe and doesn’t deserve the idolatrous devotion of our time and money.
So just as with the other disciplines we’ve discussed in this series, start small. Calculate the amount of your time you give away…
- completely outside of your own organization;
- completely without compensation (and remember, one form of compensation is networking for better career opportunities);
- completely outside of your primary skill set;
…and make a plan to increase that percentage annually, reallocating it where necessary away from our paid ministry gigs.
Where should you spend that reallocated time?
Just as you develop an Eternity Portfolio for your money, do the same thing with your minutes. Take a look at the two axes…
- Location: Local, regional, and global
- Allocation: Reaching (evangelism), teaching (discipleship), and ministering to needs (mercy)
…and see where you’ve got holes. Then make a plan to donate time in those “holey” areas, because they are, you know, holy.
Now, no fair starting a new ministry in your church and donating time there, or spending time at a friend’s nonprofit. Remember what we talked about yesterday: give anonymously, where only God can see it. Especially with your time.
It will do you good to rest your preaching voice and instead wash dishes at the local rescue mission without any of your coworkers or church members around.
Did wonders for Brother Lawrence, y’know.