Avoiding Injudicious Prodigality

Sometimes, the frantic pace of being a pastor, husband, father, and grandfather makes me think that there’s just not enough time in the day. The past week or so has been especially taxing, and more than a few times I’ve dreamed of a day with nothing on my plate. Those days are quite rare indeed, as I am sure they are for you also.

I remember attending a conference for pastors many years ago, and hearing a noted speaker say something I’ve never forgotten: There’s always enough time to do God’s will. In other words, as busy as our days may be, God will never require more of us than the time of our life requires. And, if there’s anything that gets in the way of us living our lives in God’s will–if we’re too busy–then those things need to be eliminated.
We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and God has a plan for us to steward the gift of life He’s given us. Those of us who seek to be all things to all men–and do all things on all days–will quickly find out that we just can’t do it all. Thankfully, we were never intended to do so.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share a letter I came across this week that William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, once received from his wife Catherine when he was on a long and tiring ministry trip. The letter included these words:
Your Tuesday’s notes arrived safe, and I was rejoiced to hear of the continued prosperity of your work, though sorry you were so worn out; I fear the effect of all this excitement and exertion upon your health, and though I would not hinder your usefulness, I would caution you against an injudicious prodigality of your strength.
Remember a long life of steady, consistent, holy labour will produce twice as much fruit as one shortened and destroyed by spasmodic and extravagant exertions; be careful and sparing of your strength when and where exertion is unnecessary.
Remember that William Booth was out doing good things, not wasting his time. His wife was not telling him to turn off the TV, quit surfing the web, or stop playing video games. This was in the mid 1800’s, and he was engaged in giving himself to a ministry that was quite fruitful then, and would go on to impact millions in generations to come. But even then, the caution was to “be careful” and avoid an “injudicious prodigality of his strength.”
We would all do well to heed the words of Catherine Booth (if we can understand them!), and seek to live “steady, consistent” lives submitted to God, instead of burning ourselves out trying to cram too much in our day. As someone once said, sometimes you have to stop and “sharpen the saw.” You’ll find you get a lot more wood cut when you take a break from sawing and make sure your saw is sharp.
My prayer for each of you in these busy times is that you would manage God’s gift of time in a way that will maximize the fruit you bear as you live in the center of His will each day. May He be honored in all our lives as we live for Him.
What a privilege it is to be your pastor. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.
–Ken Letson
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