By Joe McKeever
So much of ministry is about choices.
We all make hundreds of choices every day. When we open the fridge, click on the laptop, or turn on the television, we begin making choices. When we enter a library, browse a bookstore, or open God’s Word, we start making choices.
In some ways, it’s like mining for diamonds. A representative of a South African mining company once said that for each diamond they find, they remove enough dirt to fill the Empire State Building. Lots of dirt, few gems.
There are so many books, but relatively few of them deserve our attention. So many television programs and movies, but not many stand the test of time.
The pastor of a large church once posted this plea in his newsletter: “I’m asking you to allow those of us on your church staff to choose which crisis we’ll respond to. We can’t meet all the needs of all this congregation, but we’ll do all we can.”
Sound familiar? The choices we make determine a thousand things about our lives, our ministries, our memories, our successes, and our failures.
Sometimes, we make a choice that turns out to be golden.
Larry Fields, a retired pastor from Knoxville, Tenn. illustrates this lesson for us:
It was Super Bowl Sunday, and the Fields family had gathered from far and wide to watch this game. They were ready with snacks, soft drinks, and comfortable seating. As a huge football fan, Larry prided himself on having watched every Super Bowl game since its inception in the 1960s.
The kickoff was about to take place, and the family sat tense and excited. At that exact moment, Larry’s four-year-old grandson Jake came downstairs and walked into the room.
Now, Jake was the only grandchild at that time and was the object of a great deal of love and attention. Jake looked around at the family, then settled on his grandfather Larry.
Granddaddy, will you come up to my room and play with the ‘Thomas Trains?'”
Larry was stunned. The game was starting. The room exploded with laughter as the family saw the look on Granddad’s face, feeling his pain. “I had to make a quick decision,” Larry said.
And he came through like a champion.
“I got up, took Jake’s hand, and went upstairs to Jake’s room. We played with his trains, read some books, played with other toys, and then I dressed him for bed and rocked him to sleep. Later, I learned the score of the game.”
“To be honest,” Larry writes, “I can’t tell you who played in that Super Bowl game and cannot give you a score for any of the other championship games, all of which I’ve watched. But I won’t forget the night I gave up my perfect record of watching every Super Bowl game to lie on the carpet and play trains with a little boy who’s now in high school and taller than me.”
Life is about setting priorities, making memories, doing things that last, and not giving in to the self-indulgent gene.
What Are Your Priorities?
Luke 10 gives us the unforgettable picture of Mary at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha busily prepares the meal for their distinguished guest. When Martha complained to the Lord, He made two statements about the choices made that day.
Martha was “worried and upset about many things,” whereas in spending an hour at the feet of Jesus, Mary had “made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her,” (Luke 10:38-42).
Church leader, take a moment to think about your day or even the week ahead. What’s scheduled? What do these things reveal about your priorities? Are you making time to simply be with Jesus? If you have a family at home, are you also making time to spend with them?