This weekend I've been thinking an awful lot about priorities and how I divide my time. On my 10 miler yesterday, I listened to Mumford and Sons, and the song, "Awake My Soul" , my favorite Mumford song, came on. There's a line in here that reads, "Where you invest your love, there you invest your life..." The truth of this lyric hits me every time I hear it.
Then today at church, our pastor's sermon was titled "Obstacles in the Midst of Growth;" he preached out of Acts 6:1-7. If you're not familiar with it, Acts describes the birth of the Christian, New Testament church. In this portion of Acts, the disciples experience a huge increase in the number of believers...the text doesn't say exactly, but our pastor likened it the growth to going from 500 to 8,000 believers in a matter of months. His sermon focused primarily on how the church should respond to obstacles presented by growth. In this particular instance in the New Testament church, the number of believers increased so rapidly that other things were being neglected, namely helping widows and preaching the word of God (Acts 6: 1-2). So, the leaders of the day suggested that they choose seven wise men who were filled with the Spirit to carry out these deeds. The body commissioned these men by praying for them, and the text tells of the results: "And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7).
Our pastor pointed out that growth requires an element of change without changing our principles, just like the apostles decided in the situation above. They knew they had to adjust things in order to keep their principles alive. I kept thinking about this in terms of my own life--as my family grows and as I grow as a teacher, there are more demands on my time. Sometimes I slip into survival mode; our pastor described this by saying we get so busy doing things right that we don't stop to reflect on whether or not we are doing the right things. My survival mode doesn't always maintain my principles. When I'm entrenched in this mentality, I trade my Bible time for grading time. I spend more time working than with my family. I eat crap food instead of healthy food. My principles get shoved aside in survival mode.
The leaders of the early church had things figured out. When they experienced the obstacles of growth, they didn't slip into survival mode. They spent more time praying than planning, they studied the word, they relied on the power of the Holy Spirit, and fellowshipped with other believers. This is what allowed their growth to be successful (Acts 6:7). It's a great template for how to manage our own obstacles as we grow in our families and careers.