Becoming Intentional rather than Additional

My life is busy. I know, I know, everyone says that. But currently I'm pastoring a growing church, my wife is in the process of starting her own counseling practice, and we have three young kids. Between those three things, it doesn't leave much time in our schedules for much else.

I'm sure that many of you reading this can relate. This is the world we live in - busy, busy, busy, go, go, go, more, more, more.

As a pastor, I'm regularly engaging with people whose lives are already full, if not busting at the seams. As I listen to them talk about their sincere desire to grow in their faith, frustration abounds. They often say, "I know that I should be doing more, but I just don't have the time."

On the one hand, I could respond with, "Well, we're all allotted the same amount of time each day. No one gets any more than anyone else. It's your job to prioritize how you use the time you have." But to someone who has a sincere desire to grow, and is feeling maxed out, that response isn't very encouraging or compassionate.

I can remember a time in life when I could start my day with a full ninety minutes of uninterrupted time. Now I'm lucky if I get fifteen minutes before my four-year-old rolls out of bed asking to do puzzles and play "monster." And that's at 5:45 am!

One of the practices in this season of life that I've been trying to employ is to be intentional rather than additional. Sometimes we believe that to grow spiritually we need to tack on more and more "spiritual stuff" to our already full lives. We say things like, "I'm gonna try to pray more, read my Bible more, serve in the church more." But since we don't have the capacity for more, we quickly get discouraged and quit.

Perhaps we need an expanded spiritual imagination. Maybe we need to understand that all of life is spiritual and that God is always present and at work in our lives. Instead of feeling the need to add extra "spiritual activities" to my life I need to see mundane everyday activities in a new way.  

One of my household responsibilities is washing dishes. I probably do ninety percent of the dishes in our home. I’m curious to know exactly how much time I spend standing in front of the sink each week. Recently my wife stuck a little card on the windowsill above our sink that says, "Trust God to provide all you need." I'm not sure if she just happened to put that there, or if she specifically put it there for me because she thinks I need to trust God more. Either way, it has been a catalyst for me to pray, practice gratitude, and meditate on all the ways that God has provided for our family in the last year - all while doing the dishes.

This has been one small way that I've been able to become intentional with a responsibility that I do every day, rather than feeling the pressure to add an additional discipline to a full life.

While I fully believe spending concentrated and focused time in spiritual disciplines is a good thing, it's important to be reminded that it's not the only way that we grow spiritually. God is always present and at work, even in the everyday things like dishes, sweeping the floor, laundry, commuting to work, walking the dog, and parenting our kids. If we bring just a little intentionality to the things we're already doing, who knows the possibilities of how we might grow?