February, 2016 - I had just completed my first event in ministry. I can remember the event wrapping up, and I was finally able to go home. I got back to my apartment and just fell face down on my bed. I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had failed. The event was much smaller than I had anticipated, and the lack of planning showed itself throughout the overall programming of the event. It was a horrible feeling. I tried to go to bed that night but could not stop tossing and turning. I was going back and forth asking myself what felt like a million questions: “Ty, did you do enough on the front-end of the event?”, “What if the entire event was a massive failure?” and “Should I even keep going?”
All night, I restlessly fought with myself. It was exhausting and painful.
Have you ever asked yourself questions like: “Am I doing enough?” or “What if I am not doing this right?” If you have, you are not alone. I cannot count the sleepless nights I have spent asking myself those same questions. It starts with a small feeling of discouragement that ends up in questioning why you are in ministry altogether.
These nights usually result in looking for answers that I think will magically settle my restlessness. I want someone to give me a guide, showing every event to plan, every sermon to preach, every small group to create, and every other ministry decision that seems to need to be made. right. now. You think I am joking; I’m not. I would be totally okay with someone giving me a cheat sheet to ministry. Ministry would be much easier if all the difficult decisions were simply made for me.
Have you ever been there?
I think many of us who are young and new to ministry wrestle with this often. I have had a refreshing revelation recently. Are you ready for it? It’s two words.
Most of our restlessness stems from trying to get too far ahead of ourselves. In our desire to be further ahead, we cripple ourselves from being effective today. Restlessness is really just being discontent with where we are today and trying to escape our current situations. It’s a serious problem.
I have struggled with this for the past year. I have wasted countless days talking about the great things I want to do years from now, without realizing that I was missing who I could be today. For example, I have missed opportunities to love my students well today because of my discontentment . Discontentment in the form of restlessness is toxic to our ability to be good leaders. We cannot lead well if we are not content with where God has us placed.
Slowing down can help us combat restlessness. Instead of living in discontentment, we can choose to slow down and focus on completing the tasks in front of us today. Slowing down does not mean you are sacrificing that crazy, cool vision you have for the future. In fact, slowing down can help you achieve that vision.
Slowing down, in this context, simply means focusing on today, focusing on being your best in this very moment.
This week I have several small tasks that I need to complete. I know that it would be easy to focus on the vision I have for 2018, but I will not achieve the 2018 vision if I fail to complete the tasks of today. It seems so simple, and yet, it is. We usually don’t do the simple things well.
Slow down. The future will take care of itself. Be your best today and watch where that takes you.