“Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord.”
“We must clean the lens of our hearts to see the state of our souls. However, too often the former is too dirty to even know that the latter exists.”
Craig D. Lounsbrough
There are many differences between the games of football and basketball, but there’s one difference that really stands out. In basketball the play is fluid, with both teams going back for several and forth without taking a break for several minutes. In football, the teams take a break after every play! And what happens during those breaks is what’s known as a huddle: a short meeting to (1) make a plan for the next play and (2) make adjustments and corrections so as to play the game with more effectiveness and efficiency.
Due to being quarantined for the Coronavirus, a lot of us feel like our lives have been put on pause. Some of us are probably chomping at the bit for life to return to something we consider useful and productive. But have you considered that perhaps the Lord intends us to use this time to stop, reflect and re-evaluate our lives and ministries? Maybe God wants us to use this season to huddle with us about how we approach life and ministry when we begin to re-enter society.
One thing we’ve talked a lot about as a ministry staff is taking this season of “pause” to strongly evaluate our ministries. Why? Because when life is buzzing along, we typically struggle to find the time for serious introspection and evaluation. Even if there are aspects of our ministries we feel aren’t helpful or are unproductive, we plow ahead. We feel the pressure to stay busy. But taking time for assessment is vitally important.
When we dare to evaluate, we sometimes discover our life or ministry could use some big changes. In some special cases, the need is for a complete overhaul! Other times it may just be some fine tuning. But here’s the deal: if we never stop and consider the effectiveness of our ministries, we may be needlessly wasting time and burning up a lot of energy.
Writer Alannah Francis writes:
As Christians, self-assessment becomes an increasingly important part of our faith as we grow and mature spiritually. Just as periodic checkups with doctors and dentists help us take care of our physical health, regular reflection on how we’re performing in accordance with our faith and what steps we need to take to remedy any areas of weakness helps us become stronger spiritually. It also enables us to tackle problems before they become out of control.
Organizational trainers often talk about something called “mission drift.” The idea behind mission drift is how, at one time, an organization had clear goals, succinct objectives and distinct targets. But over time, other interests and activities come along and push our prior goals and targets to the side. Simply we put, we’ve come to a place of missing the point and losing the plot!
When we enter a time of evaluation, we once again revisit our purpose. Why do we exist? What are we supposed to be doing? What am I shooting for? These questions act as powerful tools to help get us back on track. And a believers, we must run such questions through the grid of scripture.
A simple approach to evaluating our lives and ministry is to ask three simple questions:
- What needs to start? (implementation of new ideas and activities)
- What needs to go? (elimination of anything that is unhelpful, ineffective or inefficient)
- What needs to continue? (maintaining what is working well and worthy of continuation)
Paul revealed an attitude of ministry focus and purposefulness when he talked about his approach to evangelism and ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Using the analogies of a runner and a boxer, Paul shared that he wasn’t satisfied running in circles wildly swinging his arms. Paul’s goal was to cross the finish line and land a blow against his opponent. I appreciate Paul’s strong sense of focus and mission!
Examination and evaluation of our lives isn’t always easy. Sometimes in order for change to be made in a positive fashion, we must force ourselves to look unblinkingly at painful realities and seek the courage to make changes.
We are in the midst of what may be the most historic event of our lifetimes. Wouldn’t be a shame to emerge from such a dramatic, life-altering season not having learned anything? This lockdown has provided us plenty of time to so some spiritual sorting and reflecting. Let’s not miss a golden opportunity.
I encourage you take advantage of this pause to look into your life as well as anything you do for ministry. Have you drifted from your mission and calling? Do your efforts produce the outcomes you desire? Is there anything that needs to go to make room for something more effective?
“I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”