More than a feeling, part V: Give away an increasing percentage of your time without compensation

Yes, the worker deserves his wages. And yes, those who preach the gospel should earn their living from the gospel.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is also the International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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8 Responses to More than a feeling, part V: Give away an increasing percentage of your time without compensation

  1. Carol Ann says:

    Hi Eric – dropped in to check on your blog today and LOVED this post. One word to sum it up – AMEN! If most of us put this into practice, imagine the impact!

  2. 란다 says:

    Pastor Foley, did you serve in a place where Dr. Foley and you did not already have those skill sets? What did you learn about God’s character?

  3. 란다 says:

    You have a lot of divergent skills and so does Dr. Foley. You know a lot of people, and so does Dr. Foley.

    In this blog you recommended, if I understood it correctly, to give away time outside of our own organizations, to give away time NOT for networking, and to give away time outside of our own primary skill sets.

    And the reason for doing this is one, “that we are called to be comprehensively formed in the likeness of Christ,” and two, “It reminds us that God’s passions are broader than our own organization.”

    Maybe the question is better stated, “How did someone[s] who knows a lot of people and who has a lot of skills find a skill you did not already have and a place to serve others, ‘anonymously, where only God can see it’, with those skills?”

    And this isn’t any clearer….so please disregard and have a wonderful wintry week.

    • tseongyosa says:

      Have you tried this out, 린다 자매님? How did it go?

      • 란다 says:

        I did!
        Thank you.
        The place located was not a place where I could be anonymous. It was, though, a place with a mission that was different than skills, interests, abilities, my own organization and without compensation.
        There were many lessons learned in the experience.
        It gave me a new appreciation for staying in the Word and doing the Word and doing that, and only that, over and over and over.
        Because in my experience, the serving I did was incomplete. The non-profit that allowed me to serve did not have as it’s primary goal to proclaim the gospel of the kingdom.
        So, when this exercise is repeated, another comment will be posted!

      • tseongyosa says:

        I will happily await your experiments, experience, and thoughts.

  4. 란다 says:

    P.S. After reading this blog and attempting to put it into practice, I heard D. Brogden describe “a tithe of me”. He called it a black martyrdom.

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