AVOIDING THE ‘RAT RACE’ & SERVING CHRIST
Reverend Bryn MacPhail / August 2002
On your mark . . . get set . . . GO!!! Doesn’t September feel like the beginning of a race? In July and August, we take time to rest; we take time to get away, and then September returns with all of its demands and responsibilities. And, unfortunately, what sometimes suffers is our Christian commitment. Finding time for loved ones—family and friends, is difficult enough without adding our responsibilities to service in Christ’s Church on top of that. As a new father, I’m feeling this pressure more than ever. How do I balance serving Christ and this congregation with being a husband and a father? On a practical level, I’m still working this out. On a philosophical level, however, I have a theory. One the one hand, I am a Christian and a minister of the Gospel; on the other hand, I am a husband and a father. How shall I balance this?
I maintain that being good at the one thing will make me good at the other.
I think this is what Jesus intended when He commanded us, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”(Matthew 6:33). It is not as if Jesus wants us to shirk our responsibilities to our family or employer—I assure you, He doesn’t (Eph.5:22-6:9). Our trouble is that we naturally “seek first” the wrong thing. We care for the needs of our family first, and then, with our leftover time, we serve the Church. Yet, this clearly contradicts Jesus’ command to “seek first the kingdom”.
‘What about my family? What about those who love and depend on me?’
I answer that the best thing you can do for your family is renew your commitment to Christ and to His Church. Being good at the one thing (being a good Christian) will inevitably make you good at the other (being a good spouse/parent/child).
‘And how shall we have the energy for all of this? Won’t serving Christ in the Church tire me out?’
I answer that service to the church can either be exhausting or energizing. Which of the two it is depends entirely on your fuel for serving. If your fuel for serving comes from within, service to the church will soon exhaust you. However, if your fuel for serving comes from above, service to the church will both energize you and bring glory to God.
This is what the apostle Peter writes, “If anyone serves, let him do so with the strength God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen”(1Peter 4:11).
Life does not have to resemble a race. Service to Christ’s Church is not meant to exhaust us—it is intended to bring us joy; it is intended to give God the glory.
Do not let duty be your fuel. Don’t simply ‘pull up your boot straps’ and expect to succeed. Seek first the kingdom of God—for your family’s sake. Serve the church with the strength God provides—for Jesus’sake. Amen.