Did anyone else have Don't Tip the Waiter? The object of the game was to carefully pile plates on the waiter's tray without causing him to tip over. And if you do tip the waiter, you'll have to tip the waiter... you'll lose all your money and you're gonna lose the game... I was convinced that that game was invented just for my brothers to have another way to torture me.
These days, in ministry, it seems a lot of people are playing a game of real life 'Don't Tip the Waiter" - they keep adding one more thing and one more thing to their tray they are carrying around until they feel like they're going to tip over. I completely understand this feeling. I get accused of packing too many things into my everyday life much more often than I like.
So I really do have empathy for people who tell me they can't serve in church because they have too much on their 'plate'. I can't even throw one single stone. I do, however, want so badly to give them a tip...they're making a huge mistake.
You see, when we hear that whisper in our ear that says 'you have too much on your plate'- oftentimes it's quite true. On any given day, I have about 39 majillion extra activities jammed into my schedule and about a bizzillion of those are likely unnecessary. But the key to choosing the right thing to take off the 'plate' is not to just randomly cancel activities- or pick the ones that seem the easiest to back out of- or will make the most people happy- or will cost us the least to quit. Instead, we have to pray and ask God which items He'd have us cut back on or eliminate or even add because just shuffling plates around willy-nilly could cause us to topple over.
But how do you know what God would pick? Well, beside the obvious stuff- those things that are straight out sinful- sometimes we have to play a little game of 'Does this sound like something God would say?' That's when you take some time in prayer, and reading the Word & reflecting on the character of our Lord... and then you try filling in the blanks like this:
Does this sound like something God would say...
Your plate is too full, My child! What you need to do is stop serving me! I know you are overwhelmed, so why don't you just sit back, relax, and sleep that extra hour on Sunday morning. That will make ALL the difference! You'll have more time every single day! You'll be rested! You'll be perky! You'll have time to spare! ?
Or does this sound a little more accurate...
Your plate is too full, My child! What you need to do is limit your time on the computer! If you cut back just 2 hours a day, imagine how much time you could save! You could spend more time talking to me! You could spend time chatting with your kids after dinner! You could truly train them up in the way they should go! ?
I can't claim to speak for God, and I certainly would never want to put words in His mouth- and this certainly isn't meant to make anyone feel guilty about decisions they've already made... but I do think it's important that we take the time to discern who's talking when we're hearing a whisper in our ear.
Sometimes, God DOES call us out of ministry- and there are all kinds of reasons. Often (okay, really often) the things God tells us to do don't make a lot of sense, and so plugging them into a formula won't always work. But there is something that NEVER happens- God will NEVER ask us to do something (or not do something) that will contradict His Word or His character. They trick is to become very familiar with His character. And that means not just reading and praying when you have a decision to make... it means spending time with Him every day.
If God calls us to do something, He will provide everything we need to do it- and He won't ask us to quit before His appointed time just because things get rough. He tells us in the Bible to seek Him first- and He'll take care of everything we need. He'll carry us through to finish out our commitments, to run the rest of the race... and to find a balance to our proverbial 'plates.'
Be encouraged, my fellow plate balancers- God will guide you as you figure out what to put on (and take off) your plate... and when to do it. Don't worry about tipping over- just make sure you're looking Up!
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.