In every career, there is a temptation and tendency to highly prioritize climbing the ladder of success and promotion. Growing, developing and taking opportunities are not a bad thing. We should all want to become better at what we do. But that’s not really what I’m getting at.. (read on!)
We all enjoy connecting with others that are like minded and do something similar to what we do. It helps us get better and think better. Since I’m in ministry, I often connect with other pastors and ministry leaders. I’ve noticed something though. Questions like these are often not the topic of conversation: “How’s your family? What hobbies are you enjoying lately? Read any good books lately? What’s God teaching you these days? Where is your next vacation going to be?” I feel like I have to often force them in, sometimes awkwardly – genuine conversations that aren’t about work and “ministry”.
Of course not everyone is like this, but I’ve noticed it more often than not. I’ve also been guilty of it! It’s not until the past couple of years that I’ve drifted away from wanting to talk about my job all the time and I just want to simply be and enjoy someones company. I enjoy my job, but is that really the ultimate thing?
I’m trying to learn to exist apart from the things I do, and just be me. This is very difficult. We are consumed with lots of clutter.
I called a friend the other day to talk about this. He listened well and then provided some wise feedback, saying something like this (my paraphrase):
“Matthew, at the end of the day when it’s all said and done, the prize we are moving towards is just Jesus. That’s it. There’s nothing else. Everything else pales in comparison to knowing and being with Jesus. Now and forever. No promotion or opportunity can provide anyone anything like Jesus can. He’s enough and He’s it. Plain and simple. So yes, do not center your whole life around work (or anything else outside of Christ). Put Jesus in the middle of everything you do, and live a wholistic life with Him. Don’t forget that your identity is not in your job, it’s in Jesus.”
Wow! The words jumped off the phone to me. In a culture of stress, work addiction and busyness, this was incredibly refreshing to hear. God wants us to work hard and glorify Him in all we do, but He also doesn’t want us to prioritize what we do and where we’re going over who we are and simply being with Him.
…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
I’m still processing and praying through this, but here are a few thoughts I’m learning and striving to apply:
- Find your identity in Jesus first, nothing else.
Truthfully, all my other roles can be taken from me in an instant. But the one thing that can’t be taken from me is my relationship with the Lord. Jesus shouldn’t be a part of my life. He should be the center of every part of my life. If my foundation is in temporary things, I will not sustain. Jesus is our firm foundation.
*Check out this song that’s been encouraging me
- Have an abundant life outside of work.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I once saw someone put something like this on social media: “Create a life that you don’t have to escape from.” In other words, don’t depend on vacations to get you through the year. Cultivate a way of living that is healthy and honoring to God. Some seasons are harder than others, but I do like this as a general goal.
Pete Scazzero from Emotionally Healthy Discipleship says, “We should work from our rest, not for our rest.” That’s the importance of rest, Sabbath, silence and solitude. When we are always in communion with God, our work overflows from that. We aren’t always trying to catch up.
Our work is a gift from God, but you also need hobbies, friends, rhythms, moments, experiences and fun. Learning to be present is also key. A huge pet peeve of mine is when I’m spending time with someone that we both scheduled, and they keep checking their phone. That’s quite the opposite of being present. We have to learn to take in each moment that’s before us.
- Pursue intimacy with Jesus above climbing the personal ladder of success.
This is a tough one, but it’s true. If we become millionaires, yet forsake Jesus, we ultimately have nothing.
“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
The physical will die, but the spiritual will not. Jesus will give you what you need in this lifetime and also exceed what you can do on your own ability.
So, what’s the summary? It’s just Jesus. He’s the goal. He’s the prize. He’s the reward. He’s enough.
When we put Jesus in the middle of it all, we don’t have to worry about the future or be consumed by cultural pressures. When we learn to find our identity in Him and not our job, we can simply BE. We can truly enjoy all the gifts around us. This is easier said than done, but may God give us wisdom and strength to move in this direction!
I’m also planning on writing a follow up blog to this!
2 thoughts on “It’s Just Jesus”
Thanks for the encouraging word. -from Germany
“plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did” 1 Cor 2:2 (The Message)