Monday, March 1, 2021

Losing Leverage

I am learning to spot my patterns of thought. I am constantly working to turn things to my own advantage. Any object, situation, relationship, or circumstance could be an opportunity for me. I can harness it, build something out of it, network with it, preach about it, or share it with a friend. A sunny day needs to be leveraged for outdoor stuff. A new acquaintance builds my network of friends. A fallen tree is firewood or building material. A cancelled meeting gives me time to catch up on my reading. My mind is bent on maximizing every opportunity.

 That is a matter of stewardship, of course. Paul tells the Colossians to make the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:5). But this way of thinking also becomes a burden. I even feel like I have to maximize my times of quietly sitting in the Lord’s presence. What did I get out of that 20 minutes? Could I have gotten more?

Working to leverage everything becomes tiring. It keeps me from purely enjoying the moment—its depth, wonder, beauty, peace, simplicity. I miss out because I have to make sure that I don’t miss out. I’m focused on myself, not the Holy Spirit.

At some level I feel the pressure of Jesus’s parable in Matthew 25. You probably know it. That’s the story of the man who plans to go out of town. Before leaving he entrusts sums of money with some servants. He apparently expects them to invest the money and make more. When the master returns, some of the servants had doubled the money. The master praises them, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” The servant who failed to invest his money is treated harshly and called “wicked” and “lazy.”

I want to be a “well done-r,” not a “wicked lazy-er.” That creates a relentless drive to maximize every opportunity. That drive can get us out of sync with the heart of God. We can work so hard for his commendation that we lose sight of his love. We want to make ourselves look good, especially in comparison to others. So we turn the work of God into competition. And we lose the joy. We actually miss opportunities to express and share the love of Christ.

I want to stop leveraging every opportunity to make myself look good. It’s not about me. I can stop engineering circumstances to my advantage. I can enjoy the beauty of a day or a flower without stressing over how I can use it. I can welcome friendships as opportunities to love others, not enrich my network.

I never really feel like I measure up to the, “well done” commendation. Maybe if I truly seek to love God and to love people... maybe that will be doing well. Jesus seems to say so.