Lots of talk lately here about clutter. Friday night, I had a chance to talk to a group from Echo Ministries about it. Talking about clutter always brings me clarity over the places where I am feeling “stuck”. Once I’ve got that kind of clarity, it’s easier to find the path to “unstuck”. Further, the more I read Prov. 27:23-27, the more clear God makes two points to me:
- If I’m feeling stuck, it’s either God’s will or my fault.
- Freedom (unstuck) is just around the corner… often just a prayer away.
This passage refers to all of us – from “shepherds” to the human resource department to outside salespeople to entrepreneurs, even kings. Herds and flocks are equal to commitments – from projects at work to the honey-do list at home, ideas and creative whims, relationships, appointments and everywhere in between. If we read this proverb honestly, the bar is set high: to know the condition of your projects, relationships, and commitments and to give them careful attention.
Some sheep come and go, maintaining little of our attention – low priority, like an idea we don’t write down, replacing that light bulb over the stove, emptying our junk drawer. Others occupy large spaces in the field, consuming vast sums of feed, and producing commensurate waste (tension, stress, decreased mental bandwidth).
Question: how’s your flock? Giving it careful attention? Feeling “stuck” with too many sheep or too much field?
I was asked to speak on how clutter impacts the field, the flock, and the future of the shepherd in
charge. God gives us responsibility as both a temporal test and an audition for eternal rewards. (Note: salvation [entry into heaven] by grace, but rewards [position, treasure, glory] are based on performance and stewardship). Fields don’t become cluttered because God gives us too many sheep. And, sometimes, when we manage the flock poorly, God will take away sheep (or even field) for a time until we prove ourselves shepherds worthy of greater trusts.
Where Did All THESE Sheep Come From?
More specifically, from whom? There are only two reasons we have commitments:
A. God has presented us with a sheep and we have taken it into our field by saying “yes/amen”.
B. We have taken a sheep into our flock and have presumed that God will approve. A is praiseworthy and will be rewarded. B is idolatry. (If you can’t say “Amen”, you’d better say “ouch”!)
As a trustee over the flock and field, we are wise to frequently consider each and every sheep in our flock, asking of ourselves the same question asked of Peter and John in Acts 4:7:
“By what power or by what name did you do this?”
Well… By what power or name is this sheep currently in your field?
Moral of the story is this: it’s impossible for us to pay appropriate attention to the sheep God has given us while cluttering up the field with sheep He hasn’t given us. Too many sheep and the field will fail, the flock will die, and our stewardship gains us little or no eternal rewards… leaving us… stuck.
|Where did all of THESE sheep come from?!|
Getting Unstuck: Counting Sheep Wakes Us Up!
One of the practices I’ve highly recommended to everyone I’ve talked to on this topic is this: weekly review, weekly review, weekly review. A weekly review is a 90-120 minute appointment with self during which I take an inventory of all of my commitments and prayerfully evaluate the condition of each:
- Do I have capacity to move a May project up to April?
- Is there a commitment God once asked me to make that He now wants me to step away from for a time, a season, or for good?
- Did Mike ever get back to me on that thing I asked him about last week or do I need to send him a “nudge” email?
- Do I have unfinished business from this month that needs legitimate calendar time on next month’s (or next week’s) calendar?
- Did I pick up that adhesive goop yet at Home Depot that I needed to fix that thing my wife has been complaining about for three weeks? Is there anything that has “fallen through the cracks”?
In short, what is the condition of my flock? Do I need to thin the herd or is God asking me to take on more sheep? Having a regular reckoning, a “counting of the sheep”, alerts me to which sheep that have fallen through the cracks, wandered off the field, or immediately need more or less attention. By prayer, it also wakes me up to which sheep I need to which to pay more or less attention.
The enemy, the flesh, and the world all want us to either take on more sheep than we can sustain long term or keep us away from the sheep God has specifically placed in our care for His purposes in His timing. The practice of “be still and know that I am God” meshes very well with the practice of “counting your sheep” and “giving careful attention to your flocks”. It is more than wise to negotiate “flock time” into our schedules on a regular basis if we want to be stewards found faithful.