November 28, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: Planned Neglect

Brother-Aaron-236x300Vance Havner said, “Patrick Henry asked, ‘Give me liberty or give me death,’ but modern Americans simply say, ‘Gimme!’”  How true!

As Christians, we often deal with people who expect, no, demand something from us.

On at least two separate occasions this week I have counselled with people who have been emotionally drained by the ministries and people they love.

The truth is that in ministry, as in life, we often have relationships that literally suck the life out of us.

The secret to staying Spiritually and emotionally healthy is, while not neglecting those who need us, to surround ourselves with people who add value.  As an old friend of mine used to say, “Preacher, if your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep will be your downfall.”  He was speaking of finances.

However, it is also true in ministry and in life.  Insuring that our income is greater than our outgo, in all areas of our life, doesn’t happen by accident.  It has to be intentional on our part.

As humans, and especially as Christians, I believe our default position in life is to be givers.  And if we’re not careful, we’ll give until there is nothing left to give.  Therefore, I believe it is imperative that we learn to balance our outgo with our income!

Marianne and I have some wonderful “pastor and wife” friends who live in Huntsville, Alabama.  On occasion, Marianne or I will communicate with them and say, “We need some Henry and Patsy time,” or they will contact us and say, “We need some Aaron and Marianne time.”  We will then plan a rendezvous for some rest, relaxation, and recharging our batteries.

It’s a time where we “on purpose” unplug from the daily drain and recharge.  But again, it doesn’t happen by accident.  We have to be intentional.  (And the Good Lord knows I’m preaching to myself right now!)

The online ministry “Daily Devotions” states, “In her book, A Practical Guide to Prayer, Dorothy Haskins tells about a noted concert violinist who was asked the secret of her mastery of the violin. The woman answered the question with two words: ‘Planned neglect.’ Then she explained. ‘There were many things that used to demand my time.

When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted, and did whatever seemed necessary. When I finished my work, I turned to my violin practice. That system prevented me from accomplishing what I should on the violin. So I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice period was complete. And that program of planned neglect is the secret of my success.’

Most of us would not need much encouragement to neglect housework, but here is a secret to life. You can’t do everything! Most of us need to focus on a few things that really matter to our Christian walk and excel in those.”

If you have ever flown in a commercial jet then you know the drill the steward or stewardess gives during the preflight checklist.  One of the things they tell you goes something like this, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will deploy from the ceiling above your head.  Remain calm (Yea, right!  Like that’s really gonna happen.  I’ll be screaming like a girl!) and place the mask over your mouth and nose.”

Then they say something that seems strange at first.  They say, “If you have a small child with you, place the mask on yourself first.”  That seems strange until you think about it.  A drop in cabin pressure is what causes the masks to deploy.  A lack of cabin pressure means a lack of oxygen.  A lack of oxygen causes you to lose consciousness.  So, if you’re passed out you can’t help anybody.  That’s why they tell you to make sure to take care of yourself first.

It doesn’t mean you don’t love the child that’s with you.  It simply means that unless you, on purpose, place your needs ahead of theirs for a moment, then you won’t be able to meet their needs.  (Reread those last two sentences and ponder on them.)

Huuummnn!  Planned neglect!  I think there is a Spiritual and a life lesson in this column somewhere for all of us!

Hey, if you haven’t attended church lately, this would be a great Sunday to plan some neglect of the things that distract you from church and go and worship the Lord!  You’ll be glad you did!


Brother Aaron


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