“Well done, good and faithful servant.” These are words we long to hear. But developing a life of focused faithfulness doesn’t happen automatically. How can we live with intention and God-glorifying purpose instead of being driven by the chaotic and mundane details of our days?
The natural rhythm of my life tends to be driven by endless to-do lists that never seem to get done and a calendar that fills up with things I hadn’t planned to do. Days turn into weeks which turn into months that all seem to happen apart from my own intentions.
I flip-flop between feeling as though I’m being tossed around aimlessly and feeling like I’m stretched so thin I might snap.
My heart is burdened by countless things I want to accomplish, people I want to connect with, ministries I want to be involved in, and activities I want to participate in. Somehow, no matter how full my days are, it never seems to be enough.
I’m weighed down by guilt over the relationships that have been neglected. I forgot my friend’s birthday. Didn’t I commit to having my pastor’s wife over for tea 2 months ago? I should be more attentive to the needs of my parents. When did I last spent time with my niece?
The worst part of it is that my relationship with Christ suffers. Busyness takes over and I realize I can’t remember when I last carved out some dedicated quiet time to read my Bible or pray more than a sentence or two. And I miss it. I yearn for the peace that comes from communing with Jesus.
I want to be faithful, not frantic. Can you relate?
Without intentional focus, our priorities become disordered, We become undisciplined, and the most important things get missed.
The Reason For It All
I am one woman. I have limitations. I cannot do it all. There is no end to the list of good things I could do each day. But, like everyone else, I only have 24 hours a day, 7 days each week, and 52 weeks each year.
God created time and He created you and me. He made us for a purpose and He has a plan for each life – yours included. So, His purpose and plan are possible within the limitations of the time we have.
If we’re not able to get everything done, we’re clearly trying to do too much. Not all good things are “God things”. Not all good things are part of God’s plan for your life. He created each of us to play a specific role in the Body of Christ. No one was meant to do “all the things”.
What is your purpose? It’s more than a specific job, role, interest or passion. It’s the reason for your existence.
After months of prayerfully studying what the Bible says about the reason we were created, I settled on a personal purpose statement. For the better part of two decades, this has been the framework around which I seek to order my life.
My Life Purpose:
To know and love Jesus Christ and to glorify God in every aspect of my life.
This is why I exist. It’s the reason for every one of my days.
Follow the Shepherd
What most influenced my personal purpose statement is Matthew 6:33:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (ESV).”
How do I live this out practically? What does this look like amid newborns and toddlers and homeschooling and part-time jobs and laundry and cooking and running errands and “all the things”? Is it actually possible to seek God first in the midst of the day-to-day stuff of life?
To seek God first is to keep my eyes on Him, to follow where He’s leading — like a sheep follows the shepherd. My focus must be Jesus, my Good Shepherd (Psalm 23:1; John 10:14). My aim is to do His will instead of my own. It is to live for His pleasure and glory.
So, the question is, “What is God’s will for my life? What does He want me to do today? Where is He leading me?”
Part of God’s will for our lives — how He orders our days and determines our steps — is clear by the roles and responsibilities He’s given us. These are unquestionable. We don’t have to doubt them or analyze them. We can be absolutely certain that we’re seeking Him first when we’re committed to faithfulness in these areas because we know they’re what He has called us to.
Who I Am
Your life roles are more specific than your life purpose. They’re things only you can do, specific to who you are and the plan God has for your life. My life roles are:
- Christian: I am always a child of God – no matter what. My relationship with Jesus is my top priority.
- Wife: The moment I married my husband, being a godly wife to him became a primary role.
- Mom: With the birth of my children, diligently caring for and discipling them in the ways of the Lord became another primary role.
Other roles have been temporary or changed with the seasons of life. For example, God has called me to various roles in ministry and work over the years.
One of the ways I decide if a role is God’s will for me or not is by determining how it fits within my life purpose and how it affects my other primary roles. If a job or a ministry opportunity prevents me from serving my family in the ways they need, or if it hinders me in my relationship with Christ, it is not my role to fill.
It was never my desire to work outside our home. Yet a perfect storm of circumstances required that I do something to help my husband provide for our family. To best help him and care for my children (indisputable calls God has on my life), I had to earn some income. While an outside job wasn’t on my heart, it was a necessary part of fulfilling God’s roles for me during certain seasons.
Making the decision to go to work was hard. I didn’t want to do it, but by keeping my life purpose and my roles in perspective, I was able to step outside my comfort zone and lay aside my own wants to walk in faithfulness to God’s call on my life.
Through the jobs God led me into, I learned skills that opened the door for me to eventually work from home. Now I’m able to live my dream of helping my husband, being there for my children, and using my abilities to serve others all without leaving the house. God’s timing was perfect. And His ways are much higher than my own (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Our life purpose and our roles are sometimes too broad for the degree of focus required for day-to-day faithfulness. We need to translate them into practical, day-by-day responsibilities to help us steward our time and energy well.
Within each role, we have both general and specific responsibilities. These can be broken down into several categories: Personal, Family, Work, Social, and Ministry, etc. Within each category, I’ve listed a handful of focus areas and tasks that are my responsibility. Here’s a sampling of the first two categories to give you an idea:
- Spiritual Health: Bible Reading, Prayer, Christian Fellowship, etc.
- Physical Health: Exercise, Diet, Rest, etc.
- Marriage: Helping My Husband, Quality Time, Communication, etc.
- Mothering: Discipling, Life Skills Training, Quality Time, etc.
- Home Keeping: Laundry, Cleaning, Meals, etc.
- Financial Stewardship: Paying Bills, Budgeting, etc.
- General Management: Coordinating Schedules, Errands, etc.
A regular review of our life purpose, roles, and responsibilities keeps us focused on faithfulness. It prevents us from being swayed by our own desires or people-pleasing. It helps us manage our schedule in a way that reflects our priorities.
Ask three main questions for each area of responsibility:
- What’s going well?
- What needs improvement?
- What are my next steps?
I’ll use spiritual health as an example.
My spiritual health is benefiting from involvement in a midweek church small group, actively pursuing fellowship with godly women for discipleship, and meditating on Scripture. These activities are going well.
My Bible reading, Bible study, and prayer have been inconsistent lately. These are areas I need to work on.
Improvement in these areas begins with understanding why they’re a struggle. Why have I been inconsistent with Bible reading, study, and prayer? Maybe I’ve been wasting time on social media or spending my entire evening in front of the TV. Maybe I’ve been opting to sleep in frequently.
Knowing what’s going well and what needs improvement, I adjust my current routines and schedule to accommodate necessary changes. I might choose to go to bed earlier so I can actually wake up when the alarm rings. Or block off a slot in my calendar every afternoon for some one-on-one time with Jesus.
Often, as I’m evaluating each responsibility, I notice a theme in the areas of weakness. A general lack of self-discipline is a common one. Other times I’ve recognized an inclination to isolate myself. Pinpointing these things makes me aware of my natural tendencies and helps me actively seek focused growth and accountability.
Impossible Without Him
Does this seem overwhelming?
One of the benefits of these self check-ups is the reminder of who I am and who Jesus is. More often than not, my roles and responsibilities seem much bigger than me. My inadequacies and weaknesses stare me in the face and I’m tempted to shrink back or give up.
The truth is: I can’t do it all. Neither can you.
It’s an incredibly freeing reality. Accepting this truth forces us to adopt two life-changing practices:
- Say “no”.
- Let God be God.
Saying “no” is a necessary part of a life of faithfulness to God’s will. Because we can’t do it all, we have to say “no” to some good things because they’re not “God’s things” for us at the time. Revisiting our life purpose, roles, and responsibilities on a regular basis reminds us of what God has called us to during this season of life. It empowers us to say “no” without guilt.
That frantic pace and chaos I was talking about? It can be driven by fear — fear of what people think of me, fear of failure, fear of things falling apart. And that fear comes from thinking it’s all up to me. It’s a prideful perspective, relying on my own ability to handle everything.
Letting God be God is an admission that we are human and we need Him. We are not God, and He is. That means we don’t have to do everything. We can’t control everything. And the things we can do are impossible without Him (John 15:5).
When we’re clear about what He has called us to do, we can trust Him to give us the strength and wisdom we need to do it.
“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24, ESV).”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5, ESV).”
We can’t be faithful on our own. As we abide in Him, intentionally pursuing His will and the call He has on our lives, it is His faithfulness that produces fruit in our lives. Faithful fruitfulness is a product of a life lived by His Spirit and for His glory (Galatians 5:22-23).
It simplifies things, really. When we seek Him first, set aside the details and just focus on faithfulness to Him above all things, He takes care of the rest.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33, ESV).”