In recent months, I’ve been on trips to North Carolina (twice), Florida, Tennessee (twice), Oklahoma, and a few other places that I can’t recall at the moment. Most of these trips have been by car. In April, I put enough miles on my Acura to have to change the oil after only 16 days.
Add to this a $5.3 million stewardship campaign, the responsibilities of being President of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference and not one, but two, book deadlines.
I sometimes don’t know if I’m coming or going. My calendar has gone from dates to just writing down directions. I feel like the girl who traveled with a Christian group in the 1990s. She was a great singer, but she didn’t quite get it in geography. They told her on the bus one day they were singing in Chicago, she thought it was a state. She didn’t know it was a city! Some days, I am not sure what city I’m in.
All this on top of the responsibilities of pastoring a church and preparing sermons. I don’t think I’ve had a “do nothing” day in five months. I’ve got so many punch lists, I feel punch drunk. Somebody stop hitting me — I just need to get to my corner and sit down.
When I started out in ministry, I wanted to write and speak. I knew I didn’t want to be a pastor. Well, God has a sense of humor. He called me to pastor and to write, travel and speak. Add to that radio and print interviews for our new movie Fireproof (www.fireproofthemovie.com) and it’s pretty much dawn-to-dusk around here.
I talk about golf and I love golf. I just never get to play golf. Back in December of 2007, a friend of mine and I were paired up with two men we had never played with before. One was a pastor of a Mega church in the Chicago area and the other was one of the most successful publishers in Christian literature. Both of them were scratch golfers. My friend and I were scratching our heads trying to figure out why God would humiliate us in this way. I had played six times the whole year. Believe me when I tell you it showed in my swing, my putting and on my scorecard. I haven’t played since. I haven’t had the time. I need to make the time.
Which brings me to my point. All of us are busy. We want God to bless our ministries. We want to be used of Him in significant and eternal ways. But there are cautions that should be taken.
1) Be careful what you ask for. Are you ready for it? Can you handle it? Are you disciplined enough to multi-task and keep all the plates spinning? If not, you’ll succeed in one area and miserably fail in another.
2) Take time for what’s important. Time in the Word. Time with your family. Time alone. Where we speak and what we write will most likely be forgotten. Few, if any, of those folks will show up at our funeral. What matters and what is eternal is the Word of God and your family. Be a good steward of your time.
3) Life has seasons. Right now, mine is reaping a harvest of seeds planted through the years. Some seasons I’ve sown and seen little or no fruit. It is not my responsibility to produce fruit or open doors. It is my responsibility to abide and remain faithful. I am to keep my hands to the plow. When God opens doors, I should walk through them. I should never try to push doors open.
I won’t always be this busy. The campaign will soon end. One book deadline has already passed. The newest book, Fireproof Your Life, will be released this summer by CLC Publications. I believe I’ve been tested on every chapter in that book just in the last year. That being said, I understand it’s a busy time. My responsibility is to pace myself, not kill myself over all this.
4) Don’t compare yourself to others. What God has called you to do is different from what He has called me to do. Different is not the same as less than or more than. It’s just different. There are no small and insignificant ministries in the mind of God. All you do for Jesus is valued. It matters not the size of the church or the crowd. What matters is the heart of the minister that is available for service. God knows where you are and what He can trust you with.
5) When God opens doors, give Him glory or you’ll start taking the credit. Make sure it’s God and not ego. I heard of a famous preacher who sat through a long introduction prior to his speaking. The person introducing him went on and on about this man’s greatness and value in the Kingdom. When he finally got up, the preacher said, “Lord forgive him for saying so much and forgive me for enjoying it.” It’s not about you, it’s about Him.
6) Take a deep breath and enjoy the air. I’ve met some great people during this hectic time. I’ve met other authors, famous filmmakers, other pastors who I would not have met otherwise. I’ve been able to travel with my wife and we’ve both been able to do some teaching and ministry. I’ve been to The Masters and seen the beauty of that golf course. I’ve spent time in fellowship with old friends I don’t get to see enough of. It’s not all hectic.
7) Don’t take yourself too seriously. After you’re gone, they’ll find someone else to speak. If you can’t come, they’ll find someone else. When you resign, they’ll get another pastor. Keep perspective. Don’t get caught up in your resume’. Remember, you are just dust. You are a vessel in the Potter’s hand. You are not the Potter, you are the clay. As Howard Hendricks says, “God uses plain old peanut butter jars for His glory.” If God spreads your ministry to other places, just remember you may be the peanut butter but you still need the bread of life and the honey of the Spirit to be tasteful and appealing.
Copyright 2008, Michael C. Catt
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.