I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand busy work. I hate being given a task just for the sake of having something to do. I see it as a waste of time rather than a time filler. Nothing truly productive comes from it. I’d rather save my energy, brain power and time doing nothing rather than doing meaningless tasks. Whether it’s at work, home or wherever, we’ve all been given busy work since we were kids.
Sometimes doing things for God feels like busy work. I can’t see the purpose behind doing what He’s asked, so it feels like busy work. Whether it’s busy work or not, I obey because it’s God who is asking. Many times it’s simply to go somewhere, pick someone up, say something to someone, serve at an event or something like it. When I don’t get to see the impact or reason, it can feel like busy work to me.
I was discussing this with one of my pastor friends recently. Then I recalled a couple of events that I could barely remember doing, but the people I helped acted as if I had saved their life. The “busy work” on my part had a significant meaning to the person God was directing it toward. It was a great reminder that often what we do for God may feel like busy work at times to us, but to others, it’s life changing stuff.
Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:58, “Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless” (GNT). If you’re feeling like God has given you a lot of busy work lately, take heart. Nothing you do for Him is useless. It’s not a waste of your time, talents or resources. Often you’re changing lives without even knowing it. God doesn’t give out busy work to keep us occupied. He gives us work that we’re to stay busy at because eternity is at stake.
Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but around here construction has been booming since Covid started. New homes are being built as fast as they can, existing homes sell the day they go on the market and remodels are happening everywhere. That’s created a couple of problems. The first is that supply and demand has driven the cost of materials sky high. The second is that there is a shortage of workers to do the work. Construction companies are begging for workers. With the lack of workers, jobs aren’t getting done as quickly as they should and people have to wait for months to get their projects done. Every day people are praying for workers so they can complete their jobs.
Not long after Jesus started His ministry, crowds started showing up. They would search for Him early in the morning and stay until late in the evening. He could barely get any rest or time alone. Some days He was so busy He didn’t get to eat. Instead of being overwhelmed at the crowds, He had pity on them. His heart was filled with compassion because of their great need for salvation as well as physical healing. In Matthew 9:38, as He looked at the crowd, He turned to His disciples and said, “Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest” (GNT). He and His 12 disciples were busy every day with the work of God’s Kingdom so much so that John said if all the miracles Jesus did had been recorded, all the books in the world couldn’t contain their stories.
This is where you and I come in. We have two parts in this. One, we are to pray for workers to gather in the harvest as Jesus commanded us to. The other is to recognize we are the workers. Ephesians 2:10 says, “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing” (MSG). Each of us were created to work in His Kingdom, but few of us are doing the work. He didn’t mean that we should all work at the church. He meant that everywhere you go, and especially at your job, there is a harvest that needs to be brought in. Instead of just praying for workers, we should be like Isaiah and say, “Here am I send me.” There is a harvest ready to be brought in right now, and God is looking for us to step up and do the work He’s called us to.
I’ve been in the workforce for almost 30 years now and have worked for several companies. No matter where I’ve worked there have been some hard workers who go above and beyond. There have also been some workers who were doing the bare minimum just to collect a check. Then there were those who did their job and nothing more. I’ve heard of an 80/20 Rule that states 80% of the work is done by 20% of the workers. I don’t know how accurate that is, but I’d have to say it’s pretty close based on what I’ve seen. Most workers find excuses not to work hard. They don’t like their boss. They don’t believe in the company’s mission. They’re on,y doing this until something better comes along. Those attitudes are reflected in their work.
There are several times in the Bible that you and I are referred to as workers in God’s Kingdom. I wonder if we allow those same attitudes to affect how we work for the Lord. Are we doing the bare minimum of what’s required of us? Do we care about the souls of other people? Are we doing things that impact the lives of those around us or just our own life? Have we as Christians succumbed to the 80/20 Rule? In one Parable, Jesus spoke of the need to keep going out and getting workers all throughout the day. There is much work to be done for His Kingdom, but the workers are few. We each need to be asking Him to show us what needs to be done, and to offer ourselves to His service.
Here are some Bible verses on being a worker.
1. Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 NLT
2. Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”
1 Timothy 5:17-18 MSG
3. Heal the sick, bring the dead back to life, heal those who suffer from dreaded skin diseases, and drive out demons. You have received without paying, so give without being paid. Do not carry any gold, silver, or copper money in your pockets; do not carry a beggar’s bag for the trip or an extra shirt or shoes or a walking stick. Workers should be given what they need.
Matthew 10:8-10 GNT
4. For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:9 AMP
5. He released them with these instructions: “The harvest is huge and ripe. But there are not enough harvesters to bring it all in. As you go, plead with the Owner of the Harvest to drive out into his harvest fields many more workers.”
I’m sure you’ve seen Newton’s Cradle on someone’s desk somewhere. If you’ve seen it, you’ve pulled back one of the silver balls and let it go. The ball you pulled back and let go smashes into the first ball, which doesn’t move, but transfers the energy to the next ball and so on until it reaches the farthest ball. That ball then swings out like a pendulum and returns to start the process over again. They’re a lot of fun to play with, but they also represent so many of us in our faith.
When it’s just sitting there on someone’s desk not being used, it’s just for show. It might get used every once in a while, but more often than not, it just collects dust. So many people show up to church and sit there collecting dust. They don’t move, they don’t transfer energy or shine. They go for nothing more than to see and be seen. They feel that they’ll get to Heaven because they went to church or that their kids will learn good morals. A church should not be a place to collect dust. It’s a place to knock off the rust, and send you out into the world with kinetic energy that moves other people.
There are many Christians who are like the picture above. They have been pulled back and are ready to be released to do God’s work, but they’re afraid to let go. That’s nothing more than wasted potential. I understand the need to be in control. I’m a control freak myself, but if you are ever going to do anything great for God, you have got to let go and let God work through you. Psalm 37:5 says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
You’re committed when you let go because you take your potential out of your hand and place it in God’s. He is the one who will accomplish the work. It’s easy to be frightened by looking at what our potential is in God’s Kingdom. We pull back the ball to start the chain reaction, but hold onto it out of fear. We never release ourselves fully into God’s control. So much of what God wants to accomplish is thwarted by our inability to let go and trust Him. We look at our strength and our abilities instead of His.
Phillip Brooks, who was an Episcopal bishop in the 1800’s, said, “Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” It’s time we quit looking at our potential energy in the Kingdom and released ourselves to do God’s work. It’s time we quit talking about what God has called us to do and started doing it. Until we let go, we will not release others to do what they’ve been called to do. Remember, when you let go, you engage others and release them to move in God’s Kingdom. It’s not just about your potential, but about releasing others to meet theirs.
*The concept and training of motivating people from their potential energy to their kinesthetic energy belongs to Trinfinity. Used with permission.
I was recently speaking with a high school student about their college plans. They said they didn’t know what they were going to study yet because they were waiting to hear from God. I encouraged them to at least enroll in the basics and begin the process of college. I explained that with the Great Commission each one of us have already been called to go into all the world. It honestly didn’t matter what degree they chose because God would use them in whatever field they went into. Plus God requires that we take the first step of faith before He moves.
So many Christians sit around their whole lives and waste decades waiting to hear from God before they do anything for the Kingdom. The truth is that if you’re doing Kingdom work, God will bless it. He can’t give an increase unless you sow some seeds. In the parable of the sower, he was throwing seed everywhere hoping some would stick. The ones that fell in good soil produced a hundred times what was sown. Imagine if he had waited on God to tell him where to throw. Those seeds may have stayed in the bag forever.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out. (GNT)” You have to make plans before you can commit them to Him. You cannot sit and wait for God to give you plans. Make them, commit them to Him and then ask Him to bless them. This is another example in scripture where we act first and then God moves. We make the plans and then the Lord blessed them. We carry out the plans and He makes them successful. The verse clearly says, “You will be successful in carrying them out.”
We can spend a lifetime planning and waiting, but God is looking for those who will carry out their plans. So much potential goes unrealized because we are waiting on God when He is waiting on us. He already gave us the command to go. Why do we then sit and wait for Him to tell us exactly where? You can pretty much go anywhere, spread the seeds of the Gospel by doing whatever for the Kingdom and God will bless it. All the world includes your job, where you live and the people you interact with. It doesn’t have to be to so where on the continent of Africa.
Not everyone is called to go to a foreign country, but all of us are called to go somewhere. Not all of us will be in full time ministry, but we are called to be ministers wherever we go. Not all of us can preach, but all of us can say something about what God has done. Don’t let waiting on God become an excuse that keeps you from doing something for God. Don’t sit around wasting your life waiting to hear from God for exact directions. Abraham was told to go and then he would be told where. It’s the same for you and I. If you step out, God will provide the direction. He can’t guide and direct you if you’re not moving though.